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Cow's milk and goat's milk have similar overall fat contents. However, the higher proportion of medium-chain fatty acids such as caproic, caprylic and capric acid in goat's milk contributes to the characteristic tart flavor of goat's milk cheese. (These fatty acids take their name from the Latin for goat, capra.)
Goat milk is often consumed by young children, the elderly, those who are ill, or have a low tolerance to cow's milk. Goat milk is more similar to human milk than that of the cow, although there is large variation among breeds in both animals. Although the West has popularized the cow, goat milk and goat cheese are preferred dairy products in much of the rest of the world. Because goat cheese is often made in areas where refrigeration is limited, aged goat cheeses are often heavily treated with salt to prevent decay. As a result, salt has become associated with the flavor of goat cheese.
Goat cheese has been made for thousands of years, and was probably one of the earliest made dairy products. In the most simple form, goat cheese is made by allowing raw milk to naturally curdle, and then draining and pressing the curds. Other techniques use an acid (such as vinegar or lemon juice) or rennet to coagulate the milk. Soft goat cheeses are made in kitchens all over the world, with cooks hanging bundles of cheesecloth filled with curds in the warm kitchen for several days to drain and cure. If the cheese is to be aged, it is often brined so it will form a rind, and then stored in a cool cheese cave for several months to cure.
Goat cheese softens when exposed to heat, although it does not melt in the same way many cow cheeses do. Firmer goat cheeses with rinds are sometimes baked in an oven to form a warm viscous form of the cheese.
List of goat's milk cheeses by country
France produces a great number of goat's milk cheeses, especially in the Loire Valley and Poitou, where goats are said to have been brought by the Moors in the 8th century. Examples of French chèvres include Bucheron, Chabis, Chavroux, Clochette, Couronne Lochoise, Crottin de Chavignol (largest produced goat cheese AOC), Montrachet (Burgundy), Pélardon, Picodon, Pouligny Saint-Pierre, Rocamadour, Sainte-Maure de Touraine, Chabichou du Poitou, Valençay, and Pyramide.
Spain and Portugal
- Mató is a Catalan fresh cheese made from cow's or goat's milk.
- Castelo Branco is a Portuguese goat's milk cheese.
- Garrotxa is a firm goat's cheese originally from Garrotxa in northern Catalonia.
- Pantysgawn is a Welsh goat's milk cheese.
- Capricorn is a Somerset, UK goat's milk cheese.
- Gevrik is a Cornish goat's milk cheese. The word gevrik meaning 'little goat' in the Cornish language.
- Tesyn is a Cornish smoked goat's milk cheese. Tesyn means 'cake' in the Cornish language.
- Kunik is a goat and Jersey cow blend, mold-ripened with similar properties to Brie. It is produced in Thurman, NY by Nettle Meadow.
- Brunost, which means brown cheese, is made in Norway. It is often sold in the USA under the name Gjetost, which means goat cheese.
- Tullyboy goat cheese is a hard mature cheese made from pasteurized milk.
- Buche Noir is a fresh pressed goats curd covered in fine vine ash from the Sydney region.
- In Venezuela, specifically in the states of Falcón, Lara and the population of San Jose de Turgua in Miranda state, many types of goat cheese are produced using traditional methods. The most common type is Pasta Firme. A variety of artisanal cheeses are manufactured by smaller producers.
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- "Capric acid," Chemical LAND21.com. Accessed 26 June 2008.
- "Get your goat you've pulled...", Impressions Magazine, n.d. Accessed 26 June 2008.
- "Gevrik Cheese," practicallyedible.com. Accessed 26 June 2008.
- Idalia De León. "Estampas". El Universal.
- Goat Dairy Foods from the University of California, Davis Dairy Research and Information Center
- National Public Radios covering of a local news case from Norway: Burning Cheese Closese Norwegian Road For Days