(This has nothing to do with goatse.cx. Seriously)

Goat cheese is a cheese made from goat milk, rather than either sheep or cows’ milk. And it's yummy!

On a hot summer's day, there is nothing more delightful to eat than a plate of light, gently warmed goat cheese, a sharp rocket salad, with some crispy toast and a couple of glasses of a dry white wine.

The flavour of the goat cheese is reminiscent of mown grass, and the acidic wine cuts through the fat of the cheese, while the crisp toast contrasts strongly with the soft cheese. Ahh! Bliss!

However, start looking hard at goat cheese, and it becomes as complicated as the wine business. The reason for this is that almost all goat cheeses (and there are hundreds of them—see below) are made by individual farms, and made by hand, rather than in heavily industrialised processes.

The flavour of the cheese depends not only on the breed of goat and what you fed them on, but also on the way you make the cheese, how long it is ripened and matured and many other factors.

Goat cheeses can vary in texture from spoonable to very hard, and in flavour from fresh and grassy to powerful with a strong odours of ammonia. The creamy, over-matured cheeses with the tang of ammonia are much prized in some parts of France, but newcomers to goat cheese find the crumbly, younger cheeses much more palatable.

Nevertheless, France is the home of goat cheese, with the production there centred on the districts of Poitou-Charentes , Pays de la Loire and the Centre , which cover the middle and western parts of the country. There is also significant production of goat milk and goat cheese in the Rhone-Alpes and Midi-Pyrenees regions, where the mountainous terrain is well-suited to farming goats.

Because France makes so much goat cheese, many French people use the French word for goat—Chèvre—as a synonym for goat cheese. It is not clear if there is a strict definition of chèvre as opposed to goat cheese, but I think it is just the French-made goat cheeses which are classed as chèvres.

Goat cheese typically has a fat content of 40-45 percent, which is similar to a good cheddar cheese (48 percent), but lower than the figure of up to 70 percent found in full-fat sheep or cow cheeses. Nevertheless, there is not a great deal of difference in the fat, protein and vitamin content of goat milk compared with either cow or sheeps’ milk. Possibly the biggest difference is in the high proportion of goat-specific fatty acids, known as capric, caprylic and caproic acids, which give the milk and resulting cheeses their unique flavour.

One of my favourite types is the crottin de chavignol, made in the Sancerre region of France. These are small (4cm x 3cm) disks of cheese with a soft rind, wrapped in paper or other covering. A brief translation: Crottin is the French for dropping.

This list of various goat cheeses from www.cheese.com
sources, further information
  • http://www.world-goat-centre.com/
  • http://www.cheese.com/
  • http://drinc.ucdavis.edu/

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