Many people are put off by dairy products made from goat milk because of the unusual and distinctive odor. But if you’ve never tried goat cheese, you really don’t know what you are missing!
So, what does goat cheese taste like? Goat cheese has a distinctive tangy and tart flavor which is slightly bitter. It is smooth and creamy and not as sweet as cheese made from cow’s milk. The flavor of goat cheese is often described as earthy and gamey, with a hint of lemon and subtle nuttiness.
We absolutely love goat cheese, and we would like to convince you to give this flavorsome and versatile cheese a try! So, we’re going to take an in-depth look at this popular dairy product and try to explain exactly what it tastes like.
What Is Goat Cheese?
Goat cheese is a dairy product made from the milk of goats. It is one of the world’s oldest cheeses and dates back to at least 10,000 years ago.
Goat cheese has an undeserved reputation for having an unpleasant flavor or tangy smell. However, goat milk cheeses ranks among the best in the world and can often be far superior to cow milk cheeses.
Goat cheese is generally softer than cow’s milk cheese because the milk contains lower amounts of casein. Casein is a milk protein that is responsible for milk curdling when acids or rennet are added.
Goat milk also has more fat than cow’s milk, giving it a tangy flavor. It is particularly high in medium-chain fatty acids, which help to give goat cheese its unique aroma.
One of these is capric acid, which helps to promote the development of good intestinal bacteria and is often sold as a health food product.
Cheese made from goat milk tends to be pure white in color, particularly when it is young. As it ages, it takes on a slightly yellow tinge.
It contains as much lactose as cow’s milk, but because the fat molecules are smaller, some people who are lactose intolerant can digest goat cheese better than products made from cow’s milk.
The other unusual property of goat cheese is that when heated, it becomes soft and runny rather than melting like cows’ cheese.
You may sometimes hear goat cheese referred to by its French name, Chèvre.
How Is Goat Cheese Made?
Goat cheese is made using the milk from goats, which is either pasteurized or raw.
The milk is warmed to around 65°F, and culture is added to begin the process of fermentation. Either rennet or acid is then added which triggers the formation of curds.
Once the curds have formed, the liquid whey is drained off and the solids curds are formed into shapes using molds.
The molds are left to drain for around a day and then the surface of the cheese is sprinkled with salt. This not only adds flavor but also helps a rind to form and controls the growth of microorganisms.
Goat cheese can be eaten immediately after draining, and in this state, it is called fresh goat cheese. This is a soft, spreadable cheese with high moisture content.
Alternatively, the cheese may be left anywhere from a week up to a year to ripen and mature. The longer it is left to ripen, the more moisture will be lost and the harder the cheese will become.
Some goat cheeses are dusted with ash, which alters the rind and flavor during the ripening process. Others are coated in herbs or wrapped in grape leaves.
Here’s a more in-depth video all about the process from milking the goats to serving the cheese:
Are There Different Types Of Goat Cheese?
Like cheese is made from cow’s milk, goat cheese comes in many different types and forms. These range from young fresh cheese with a creamy texture to hard and tangy mature goat’s cheeses.
In fact, pretty much every type of cheese that can be made with cow’s milk or sheep’s milk could also be made with goat’s milk.
In specialist cheese stores you may find goats’ milk cheeses that include Brie, Camembert, Gouda, and even full-flavored blue cheeses.
Some classic types of cheese are always made exclusively with goat milk. The one most people are familiar with is the fresh Chevre goat cheese log. This is a young goat cheese that is normally pure white in color.
What Does Goat Cheese Taste Like?
Like many foods, the flavor of goat cheese is quite tricky to describe. The best way to explain what goat cheese tastes like is to compare it to cow’s milk cheeses.
Cheese made from cow’s milk does not have a particularly distinctive flavor. The taste we experience when eating cow’s milk cheeses comes from cultures and additives used in the manufacturing process.
For example. When making cheddar cheese, a culture will be used that develops the cheddary taste.
When it comes to goat milk cheeses, there is a distinctive taste to the milk, which carries through into the flavor of the cheese. This is tangy, tart, and sometimes described as earthy.
It might sound odd, but you will often hear people say that goat cheese tastes like how goats smell! Now if you’ve ever been close enough to a goat to smell it, you will know that goats do not have a particularly pleasant aroma.
We can see why people might think that goat cheese has a barnyard flavor, as it does have a very distinctive smell.
However, it is these attributes that actually make goat cheese one of the most delightful and flavorsome dairy products you will ever try.
The reason for this unusual flavor and smell is the fatty acids contained in goat’s milk. These add a tartness and tanginess to the milk that some people describe as slightly gamey.
If too much of this flavor carries over into the cheese, it can become overwhelming, but luckily there are ways that this can be moderated.
The key to getting the perfect flavor in goat cheese lies in the freshness of the milk.
Fresh goat milk taken straight from the animal will have almost no goaty flavor at all. At this point, it tastes almost identical to cow milk, although slightly lighter and fresher.
If this milk is not processed into cheese quickly, it will start to develop the characteristic tangy taste. Sometimes the milk is deliberately left to age as producers like to carry this flavor over into their cheese.
The length of time milk is left before processing will depend on the taste the milk producer is aiming for.
Another factor that affects the strength of flavor of goat milk is the hormone levels in the female goat. These can increase during the breeding season and also when male and female goats are kept together.
One thing all cheese connoisseurs agree on is that goat milk cheese has a strong flavor that lingers on the tongue. It has a distinct earthiness, with hints of lemon and a slight nuttiness.
It tends to be less sweet than cheeses made from cow milk and almost has a slight bitterness.
What Is The Texture Of Goat Cheese Like?
When compared to cheese made from cow milk, goat cheese has some very different properties. Fresh goat cheese is very soft and smooth and is almost spreadable.
If you cut into a young goat cheese log, you will notice that the cheese is quite chalky and sometimes crumbly. This young cheese ripens quickly though, and you will soon see that the cheese starts to develop a creamy texture.
This starts on the outside, near the rind, and gradually progresses inwards.
So, if you cut into a goat cheese log that is around a week old, you will notice that the outer ring is smooth and creamy and the center part is still chalky and slightly crumbly. For many people, this is the perfect stage at which to eat their goat cheese.
If the type of goat cheese is one that is intended to mature, it will be left for some time. During the maturation process, the cheese loses moisture and grows firm.
Mature goat cheese does not become as hard as a mature cow cheese but instead starts to turn crumbly.
Very mature goat cheese will start to develop crunchy crystals, which you have may have come across previously in a very mature good quality cheddar.
As goat cheese ages the flavors also change, with the nuttiness becoming more prominent.
Does Goat Cheese Have A Strong Flavor?
It is undeniable that goat cheese has a strong flavor, and you will struggle to come across a goat cheese that is mild and subtle. That’s why it goes so well on mild foods like toast and crackers.
However, it is the strong and distinctive taste of goat cheese that people adore, which is why it works so well in many different recipes.
The great thing about goat cheese is a little bit goes a long way and its flavor can easily be transformed by pairing it with different ingredients. It also melts easily into sauces when heated, making it ideal for pasta and risotto dishes.
The soft texture of fresh goat cheese makes it perfect for spreading on toast, bagels, and sandwiches. It can also be crumbled over salads and works really well when paired with.
Sweeter salad ingredients such as beets. This offsets the bitterness of the cheese and can be complemented with a sprinkling of crushed walnuts.
We hope we’ve convinced you to give goat cheese a try, as we think it is one of the finest cheeses out there!
So next time you go cheese shopping, try popping a fresh Chevre log into your basket and spread it on some bagels when you get home. We’re sure that you won’t be disappointed.