June 16

Goat Cheese – Everything You Need to Know

Written by: Caitlin Clark

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Few cheese styles evoke such strong reactions as goat cheese. Pungent, wild-smelling, and slightly chalky, goat cheeses push some consumers into fits of near ecstasy while inspiring others to keep their distance.  

However you may feel about it, goat cheese is some of the world’s oldest and most versatile cheese. Below we've created a thorough guide to everything goat cheese.

Enjoy!

What is Goat Cheese?


Goat Cheese Types

“Goat cheese” indicates any cheese made from the milk of a goat. Most often, this refers to the soft, spreadable, rindless version usually sold as logs, more accurately known as “chevre.”

However, goat cheese may also be aged to develop a rind (the famous Californian cheese Humboldt Fog is an example of this style).

It is important to remember that many world cheeses, such as Halloumi or Cabrales, are traditionally prepared entirely or partially from goat’s milk.

Finally, some cheesemakers produce well-known styles usually made with cow’s milk (such as Brie or Mozzarella) from goat’s milk just for a fun twist on the original!

Different Kinds of Goat Cheese


Different Kinds of Goat Cheese

Although many types of cheese can be made from the milk of a goat, it is typical to find goat’s milk cheeses in two forms: Fresh and Bloomy Rind.

Fresh:
Fresh goat’s milk cheeses are typified by chevre. They are rindless, soft, and redolent, with a barnyard character balanced by a dairy creaminess.

Bloomy:
Bloomy rind goat’s milk cheeses are formed by aging the fresh curd with yeast and mold cultures that toughen the outer layer into a rind in much the same way as observed with Camembert or Brie. When you cut into a bloomy rind goat’s milk cheese, you will often encounter a soft white center surrounded by a layer of partially liquified curd just inside the rind.

Other:

Goat’s milk is sometimes used to prepare other styles of cheese, from blue cheese to alpine types. The goat’s milk confers a recognizable tang and fatty creaminess to these well-known styles.

How is Goat Cheese Made?


Goat Cheese Making

Chevre, the most common style of goat cheese, is eaten fresh (without aging) and is incredibly easy to make. Goat milk is heated and acidified, which causes large, cloudy curds to separate from the liquid whey. 

A cheesemaker strains the liquid away from the solids until the curds are dry enough, at which point the tart curds can be flavored.  

Chevre is a versatile cheese, and some cheesemakers choose to enjoy it plain, while others add salt and herbs. Others flavor it with honey or flowers. Then, the cheese is shaped, often into logs or pyramids. 

Goat Cheese Substitutes


Goat milk confers a unique tart and gamey flavor to a cheese for which there are no real substitutes. However, cream cheese or ricotta mimic the texture of goat cheese, although not the taste.

What Does Goat Cheese Taste Like?


Goat cheese has a taste and texture that are instantly recognizable. Cheeses made with goat milk generally have a bright acidity, a gamey undertone, and a cloudy white appearance. 

They are often described as tart, earthy, mousse-like, and cooling.

Goat Cheese Pairings


Goat Cheese On Toast

What goes well with goat cheese?

Because it is both acidic and creamy, goat cheese pairs well with an extensive variety of flavors. The most common pairing is with fresh, juicy fruits such as grapes or stonefruit. It also combines with flavorful salami such as loukanika or cured meats like longaniza, lonza or coppa.


How to use goat cheese

Goat cheese doesn’t need to be dressed up. Try it on a cheese platter accompanied by a pot of honey and a stem of grapes, perhaps with a few slices of prosciutto or jamon serrano. You will also love it crumbled onto a pizza or as a salad topping!

Best Goat Cheese Brands


It is generally agreed that excellence in goat cheese is achieved by highlighting, rather than disguising, its characteristic gamey flavor.

It should also have a mousse-like texture and a pleasant, not overpowering tartness.

Montchevre, La Bonne Vie, and Cypress Grove are three brands of chevre that are highly rated on multiple platforms by these standards.  

Where to Buy Goat Cheese


Logs or crumbles of chevre are available at most supermarkets. Many grocery stores sell popular house brands (such as Whole Foods’ 365 Organics brand chevre), but your local supermarket or cheesemonger may offer different brands or even imported options.

If not, fast shipping does allow for the purchase of chevre and other goat cheeses online. Amazon, iGourmet, and a number of online specialty markets like Saxelby Cheese make the world’s goat cheeses available to every audience.

How Long Does Goat Cheese Last?


As a fresh cheese, chevre has a shorter shelf life than many hard or aged cheeses. It may last a couple of months in the fridge in an unopened package, but once opened, it will begin to deteriorate quickly.

Chevre’s high moisture content makes it susceptible to mold within two weeks. Check out our article on how to freeze goat cheese to find out how to keep it longer. 

How to Make Goat Cheese


New England Cheesemaking Supply Company offers a guide to making bacterially-acidified chevre and also sells the necessary equipment. 

If you prefer to achieve results even faster, several blogs and websites have recipes for direct-acidified chevre. This refers to cheese acidified with lemon juice or vinegar instead of fermented with bacteria; it is faster, but it will lack the depth of flavor.

The Spruce Eats has produced a guide with helpful pictures and instructions for beginning home cheesemakers.

FAQ:


1) Is feta goat cheese?

Traditionally, Feta cheese is made with sheep’s milk or a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk. Today, especially in the United States, it is more commonly made from cow’s milk. Some Greek cheesemakers still make Feta from sheep or goat dairy.

2) Is goat cheese dairy?

It definitely is! 

Although it doesn’t come from a cow, goat cheese is made from a type of milk. “Dairy” refers to the milk of any mammal, including cows, goats, sheep, camels, horses, buffalo, yak, etc.  

All of these animals produce milk that is collected and converted into cheese or cheese-like products by one or more cultures around the world. Products made from or including milk from any mammal are also considered “dairy.”

3) Can You freeze goat cheese?

It is safe, easy, and practical to freeze goat cheese! Check out our article on How to Freeze Goat Cheese to get all the info you need on how to get the job done.

Conclusion


While everyone isn't a fan of stinky cheese, it's a fascinating subject. We hope this article was helpful in exposing some of the unique intricacies of goat cheese.

If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to leave a note below!

Cheers!

Caitlin


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About the author

Caitlin is a Ph.D student and chocolate researcher at Colorado State University. Her research in the Food Science program focuses on chocolate fermentation (that’s right, it’s a fermented food!) and small-batch post-harvest processing techniques. When she is not acting in her capacity as resident chocolate guru, she researches other fermented foods and beverages like beer, sausage, and natto. Caitlin was drawn to fermented foods while living in rural Spain for six years, where she was exposed to traditional, time-honored practices of food preservation. At home, she practices Bollywood dance for fun and is followed everywhere by two small pet rabbits.

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