Widely bred and easily reared, goats have long been a nomadic animal that carries great worth all around the globe.
As one of the first dairy products known to man, goat’s milk, and more recently cheese, has been produced for thousands of years, although falling out of popularity as the greater yielding cow’s milk became increasingly more financially profitable.
Goats milk products, and particularly cheese, has seen a recent surge in demand as people have come to realise its digestive benefits over cow’s milk. Lower in lactose, and with a higher amount of medium-chain fatty acids, those with lactose intolerances and allergic tendencies have found solace in goats milk products.
Tangy and slightly sour in flavour, goats cheese has long been recognised as a corner stone to any French cheeseboard, with France being the largest producer in the world, producing well over 100,000 tons of Chèvre every year. However, as the agricultural tide turns in preference to small scale farming on our shores, these easy-rearing, comical animals have become extremely attractive to the British indie-farmer.
Seeing the health benefits of this wonderful product, many UK producers opt for using unpasteurised, un-homogenised milk, making for not only a superior tasting cheese, but one full of nutrients, vitamins, beneficial bacteria and probiotics.
As a highly versatile ingredient and one vastly ranging in texture and flavour, goat’s cheese can be used for anything from spreading on bread, to grating over pasta. Ranging from soft and creamy to hard and lemony in flavour, we’ve selected our favourite goat’s cheeses from curd to crumbly.
Curd – soft and spreadable:
Greenlands Goat’s Cheese, Hereford; produced from the beautiful milk of their grass-fed, free-roaming goats, this young family from Hereford has produced a deliciously spreadable, fresh goat’s cheese curd ideal as a spreadable sandwich filling, as a primary cooking ingredient or as base to many a sauce.
Made from hanging the curds for 24hours, this cheese is lovingly made using only vegetarian rennet, sea salt, organic herbs and whole milk to arrive at a creamy, subtle tasting, super-soft goat cheese.
Why not try this delicious ‘Goat’s Cheese on Toast’ recipe with sweet, slow-roasted garlic.
Soft – creamy and decadent:
Using raw, unpasteurised milk, production is seasonal ensuring the welfare of their goats. Their cheeses are made using the evening and morning milk. The evening milk is ripened overnight with specific cultures and, once combined with the morning milk, is fed down to the dairy by gravity to minimise agitation. They use traditional animal rennet in all of their cheeses.
Stawley is dense and smooth in texture, with a delicate breakdown under the rind. The flavours range from milky and lactic to floral and honeyed depending on the seasons. Stawley sits confidently on any cheese board as well as ideal for adding to many a warm salad dish.
Little Wallop, Alex James Presents; The brainchild of both Alex James Presents and Somerset cheese masters, White Lake, Little Wallop is a soft goat’s cheese gutsy and complex in flavour.
Washed in Somerset cider brandy and wrapped in vine leaf, Little Wallop has a nutty, creamy palate with a decadently pliable texture and lingering brandy and citrus undertones.
This cheese adds great depth of flavour when used in cooking; mixed with a more subtle cheese such as ricotta makes for a rich delicious sauce for pasta such as this Cannelloni Dish.
Semi-Hard – firm yet creamy:
Petite, Woolsery, Dorset; Making cheese since the early 90s, Woolsery are seasoned-pros in the world of goat’s cheese making. Naturally handmade from their picturesque farm in Dorset, Woolsery have developed an extensive range, but their semi-hard variety is something special.
Otherwise known as ‘Petite’, this mild goat’s cheese has a firm yet soft texture that makes it ideal for slicing and grilling. Smooth and spreadable, this cheese’s robust flavour is massively enhanced through heating, so popped under the grill and warmed until melted is how it is best enjoyed.
This cheese matches perfectly with the sweet and earthy flavours of beetroot and thyme – we like this deliciously simple, Autumnal Tart.
Aged/Hard – melt-in-the-mouth:
Wellesley, Hill Farm Dairy, Somerset: With a firm, crumbly texture, hard goat’s cheese develops a sweet, yet sharp palate as it progresses through the ageing process. Hill Farm’s Wellesley hard cheese, is a goat’s cheese of beauty. Hand-rolled in a salt crust and left to mature for 6 months, the cheese develops a nutty, sweet flavour with a delicately firm texture.
It’s a cheese that works brilliantly well with nuts, try this nut-baked goat’s cheese salad. Simply take thick slices of Hill Farm’s delicious hard variety and follow this recipe as indicated.
Words by Helen Upshall