National Goat Cheese Month rolls around every August, giving cheese fans an excuse to indulge in the creamy, tart goodness of goat’s milk cheese. But why celebrate in August?
Here’s one reason, according to a local goat cheese creamery: J2K Capraio in Walkerton can’t stop making cheese right now. The creamery is in the thick of its cheese production, milking 23 goats twice daily.
Because goat’s milk is seasonal (the animals produce from March through December), and because goat cheese is best fresh (with an ideal turnaround of less than a week) summer is prime time to spread the creamy curds, said co-owner Joe Klinedinst.
Klinedinst has been raising goats since he was a child, but began the creamery three years ago with his wife, Jody. The couple also owns Oh Mamma’s on the Avenue and has a booth at South Bend Farmer’s Market, where they sell cheese along with other butcher and deli items.
“It goes from milk to the consumer’s palette in three to four days,” Klinedinst said. “That’s what makes the process so special.”
From cloth to plate
“Quality cheese begins with quality animals and milk,” Klinedinst said.
To make the cheese, the creamery stores milk at 35-40 degrees before starting a low-temperature pasteurization process (about 145 degrees for half an hour). Then, cultures are added and the milk coagulates for six to eight hours, forming into curds and whey.
The curds are separated from the whey by hanging in cheesecloth bags to drain the liquid. The cheese is then ready to shape and package. J2K Capraio is able to produce about 35 pounds of goat cheese at a time using this process.
The skinny on goat cheese
Goat cheese is known for its moist texture and tart flavor, and has a few advantages over cow’s milk cheeses.
The goat variety has fewer calories (80 per ounce), more protein (8.7 grams), more calcium (40-240 grams depending on the cheese) and almost twice as much vitamin A than cow’s milk cheeses, according to Fromagerie Belle Chevre, a creamery in Elkmont, Alabama.
Milk in goat’s cheese is also naturally homogenized and contains smaller fat molecules, making it easier for humans (especially lactose-intolerant ones) to digest, Klinedinst said.
Plain or fancy?
You can buy goat cheese flavored with just about anything. J2K makes varieties like fresh chipotle and chives, cracked black peppercorn and Tuscan blend for delicious snacking on cheese alone.
But Klinedinst also recommends the chevre plain, lightly seasoned with olive oil drizzle and served with charcuterie meats on fresh bread. Try a similar recipe from blogger The Italian Dish for crostini with prosciutto, goat cheese and fig jam.
Muddy Acres Goat Farm in Millersburg milks 29 goats to make its signature goat cheese flavored with garlic powder and parsley, but owners Larry and Neoma Miller take the most pride in their feta cheese, also made with goat’s milk.
“Lots of people don’t like feta made with cow’s milk, but goat’s milk feta is milder,” said Neoma. “Ours has no preservatives and is good in salads, for meats and crackers.”
The Millers also sell a marinated feta — soaked in olive oil with hot pepper, thyme or rosemary, basil and garlic — which doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
If you want to pair your goat cheese with a drink, Artisanal Premium Cheese recommends white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or floral Viogner; pilsners, wheat beers, and summer ales also go well with goat cheese.
Where to get your goat
There are plenty of options for a goat cheese fix in the Michiana area. Find goat cheese and milk from Hiatt’s Poultry, Muddy Acres Goat Farms, and Oh Mama’s, which all can be found at South Bend Farmer’s Market. Muddy Acres cheese is also available at Maple City Market in Goshen and Purple Porch Co-op in South Bend.
For more to make and eat with goat cheese, check out Flavor 574’s Pinterest board.
Pinterest board: Follow Flavor 574’s board Goat Cheese, Please on Pinterest.