Chevre may Mean “Goat” in French but It Means Delicious in any Language…
Goat cheese is one of those cheeses that everyone is nuts about right now. You may have seen goat cheese in the stores labeled as Chevre. Chevre is a generic term for goat cheese; Chevre means goat in French, clever. It can be found in many forms including hard cheeses like some Gouda, but here we most readily recognize “Chevre” as a creamy, crumbly but spreadable cheese, like Feta or Prairie Fruit’s “Little Bloom on the Prairie”
While goat and cow milk have very similar protein and fat properties, goat milk has more fatty acids. Those extra fatty acids create that tart, almost sour taste that you find in goat milk or cheese. People that are scared of goat cheese because they say it tastes “too goaty” should know that they may have had a cheese made in the winter and that could affect its taste. Just like vegetables, cheeses have seasons because the animal making the milk is eating vegetables. In the summer, goats are outside eating the grass and the cheese can taste floral and herbaceous. In the winter when the goats are eating hay in their barns, the cheese can have a more bitter taste. The people working in the cheese section of Whole Foods actually do know what they’re talking about and they can tell you the season that the cheese was made in so you can try it.
What you’ll need is…
1 packet of chevre starter
1 gallon of goat milk (pasteurized or raw but not ultra- pasteurized)
Pour the milk into you favorite cheese pot and bring it up to room temperature. Add the starter and mix in well. Cover and let stand for 24 hours. I keep mine on the top of the ‘fridge so there’s not draft and my cat won’t get curious. After 24 hours dump the cheese into a butter muslin-lined colander. Hang to dry – you know the drill. 24 hours later scrape off the cloth and store in an air-tight container.
Fresh cheeses are great to add herbs to because the have such a neutral taste. They easily pick up the flavors that are around them. Try stirring in some fresh chive blossoms (at Green City now!) or some thyme and letting it sit in the ‘fridge for a day before eating it to get the flavors all mingled. Your friends will be impressed. Also beets are perfectly matched with creamy goat cheese – it’s scary how good they taste together.
Bake a baguette (or buy one from Bennison’s, yum), slice it up, spread on the cheese and enjoy.
I am going on a trip to Costa Rica tomorrow and I’ll be gone for a week! But while I’m there I am going to visit a cheese factory started by Quaker expatriates in Monteverde. I will have pictures and tastings to share when I get back. Have a really great week and enjoy your cheese!