America is so inundated with cows’ cheese that we sometimes forget that other animals produce milk, and therefore cheese, as well. No, I’m not going to take this post in direction of human cheese, although human milk has been in the news recently, albeit in the form of ice cream, not cheese. But recently I had the opportunity to look beyond the everyday and find pleasure in the mildly uncommon – goats’ cheese.
Goats’ milk has been collected and subsequently made into cheese since the dawn of recorded history. Goats are much hardier and more suited for the rough terrain of our primordial ancestors; there were no verdant, flowing grasslands, or unlimited grain, as American cattle are treated to. In Europe goats’ milk is a common and commonly consumed product; but in America, it is relegated to the tables of foodies and health nuts. Cows’ milk, far higher in potential production volume, has dominated goats’ milk in the consumer market.
However, goats’ cheese has several advantages over cows’ cheese. Because it has a higher proportion of medium-chain fatty acids than cows’ cheese, it has a stronger, tarter flavor than cows’ cheese. Often, it is not aged, lending goats’ cheese a creamier flavor and texture than most common cows’ cheeses, which are often aged for a firmer texture. However, when it is aged, it is generally heavily brined, producing strongly flavored cheeses such as feta. Finally, goat’s milk is more palatable to the very young and the very old, since it is closer in makeup to human milk than common cows’ milk; but even many healthy adults appreciate this easy-to-digest dairy product.
Goats cheese is delicious on many different foods. It is an excellent candidate for an appetizer to spread on crackers, because of its unique taste and generally soft texture. It goes well on dressed salads, especially with dried berries and nuts, because its creamy tartness contrasts well with the leafy lettuce and the sweet dressing and toppings. It is surprisingly delicious on burgers, and very easy to apply; because, unlike cows’ cheese, goats’ cheese does not melt in heat, it merely softens.
But of course, there are always the more creative culinary applications, such as these goats’ cheese truffles. Sweet chocolate over tangy, creamy goats’ cheese, with a nutty skin; it makes my mouth water just thinking about it!