If you’ve ever wondered how goat cheese is made and why it has that delicious taste and texture, we have prepared an in-depth article that will explore all the secrets of this irresistible dairy product. Furthermore, we also have a number of buyer’s guides on products that can help you milk your goat safely and properly such as the customer-favorite goat milking shed.
The process of making goat cheese
Goat cheese tends to draw mixed and strong reactions since some people absolutely love it, while others don’t want to go anywhere near it. People that love the unique taste and texture of goat cheese can choose between an almost endless variety and each one has its own unique flavor and texture.
No matter the type of goat cheese that you enjoy, the production of it follows most of the same basic steps found in other types of cheese. First, there’s the gathering of milk and many cheesemakers prefer to source the milk from nearby farms that they can trust. Others own the goats and do the milking themselves.
Then, the milk needs to be pasteurized. Not all types of cheese are made with pasteurized milk but in the United States, the cheese made with milk that has not been pasteurized needs to be aged for at least 60 days before it can be sold. Thus, fresh goat cheese that is aged less than 60 days and sold in the U.S is always made from pasteurized milk.
The acidification process is when the starter culture is added to the milk in order to change the lactose into lactic acid and alter the acidity level of the milk. This is the process that leads to the thickening of the milk into curds. Afterward, rennet is added to encourage the formation of curds even further. Separating the curds and whey is the next important step and for very soft cheese, such as the fresh goat cheese, the curds can just be wrapped in a special cheesecloth and hung until the whey drips out.
For most types of cheeses, though, the curds are cut with a tool that resembles a rake, or with a knife, if you are making it at home. Cutting and then pressing the curds encourages them to expel the excess whey.
For soft cheeses, large curds are cut while for harder cheese the curds are cut into small cubes so that they can lose as much moisture as possible. Once enough of the moisture has been eliminated and the cheese reached the desired texture, the salting process begins and cheesemakers add salt which gives the cheese flavor and also acts as a preservative.
Now it is time for the cheese to be put into some sort of form and get its specific shape. The form can either be a basket, ring, mold, or anything that the cheesemaker wants. While semi-hard and hard goat cheese is often sold in wheels, fresh goat cheese comes in a wide variety of shapes such as logs, crottins, pucks, pyramids or sold unformed in a container. The final stage is the ripening which can be as short as a few days or weeks for fresh goat cheese to months or even years for other dairy products.
How to make homemade goat cheese
Preparing goat cheese at home is no more difficult than making cow cheese, and all that you will need is a starter culture and rennet. You can also prepare fresh goat cheese by combining the milk with vinegar or lemon juice.
While you can find many recipes online for how to prepare different types of goat cheese, the process is more or less the same as the one we will detail here. First, you will need to heat one quart of the goat’s milk and leave it on the stove until it reaches a gentle boil.
You should then turn off the heat and add either a ¼ cup of white vinegar or lemon juice. If you don’t want to make fresh goat cheese, you should read the instructions on the packages of the starter culture and rennet to see how much you need to add for the quantity of milk you have available.
Afterward, you can let the content set around 10 minutes until curds form. Pour the curds into the cheesecloth, and press the cheesecloth around them and hang the bundle. Leave it to drip out for some hours, depending on how thick you’d like the goat cheese to be.
Once that is done, you can mix the curds with salt and any other seasoning of your choice and transfer it to a container and refrigerate it for a few days, or longer, depending on your preferences.
The types of goat cheese
While there are countless types of goat cheese that you can purchase from your favorite shops and it is almost impossible to keep track of all of them, they all fall into several categories.
First, there’s the fresh goat cheese which is also called chevre, the French word for goat. This category covers all the types of goat cheese that are soft and even spreadable like butter. As mentioned earlier, they can come in a variety of shapes thanks to their soft texture or be sold loose in a container.
There’s also a sub-category for fresh cheese made from goat’s milk named ash-covered goat cheese. This variety has a very thin rind that is colored bluish-gray and that is made of ash. The rind helps protect the cheese and it gives it a very appealing visual.
Some types of ash-covered cheese such as the Humboldt Fog have a line of ash right through the middle of the cheese.
The final category is the aged goat cheese and any type of cheese that has been aged until it reached a semi-hard or hard texture falls in this category. Cheese that has been aged tends to have a less tangy goat flavor, which is why many people that prefer cow cheese enjoy this variety as well. The flavors range from sharp to sweet or nutty.
The benefits of goat cheese
The primary benefit of goat cheese is that it is much easier to digest than cow’s milk and many people find that it is quite easy for them to switch to goat milk products. This is because goat milk has a different protein structure and it is naturally lower in lactose which is the main carbohydrate in the milk that mammals produce.
It is estimated that up to 70% of the world’s population has trouble digesting lactose which leads to symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Since there is less lactose in goat’s milk, products made from it are a better choice for people that are lactose intolerant.
Furthermore, goat milk contains a fatty acid profile that has been linked to several health benefits. Products made from this milk have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can even help decrease hunger making goat cheese more filling than other varieties.
Since goat cheese can help reduce hunger and increase fullness, it is a very good choice for people that want to lose weight since a diet that includes the correct quantities of goat cheese can help promote weight loss.