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Farm-Fresh Goat Cheese

Most of us think of cows when we think of dairy products, but for much of the world, goats are the source of a family’s milk and cheese. Goats are generally easier to keep than cattle – they thrive in mountainous, hilly, and dry environments and they graze on grass and brush. Plus, goats’ milk has, on average, less sugar, more calcium, and more protein than cows’ milk, and it also has less lactose, which makes it easier to digest for those who are lactose-sensitive. Goats’ milk and goats’ milk products are often seen as a vanguard of the local food and sustainability movement.  So why don’t we know more about goat dairy products? The Jolly Tomato team took a field trip to a goat farm to learn more.

goat face

Rawson Brook Farm, of Monterey, MA,  is a picturesque small goat farm tucked away on an off-the-beaten path road in the Berkshire mountains (Western Massachusetts). Owner Susan Sellew runs the farm and produces Monterey Chevre, a delicious and mild goat cheese.

rawson brook

When you get to the farm, the first thing you’ll notice are the kids – the super-friendly baby goats who hang out in a large grassy pen. Once you get close and you read their nametags, you start to get the sense that they each have distinctive faces and personalities. Most of them love to be petted and scratched, but a few are possibly more interested in chewing your shirt (!). Out of the 100-plus kids that are born on the farm each year, the farm keeps about 10 of the kids to use as milkers.

The kids meet the kids

The kids meet the kids

There are approximately 40 to 45 (adult female) milking goats on the farm. Most of the goats are French and American Alpines; the white ones are part Saanan. The goats are each milked twice per day, and each goat averages about one gallon of milk per day. It takes about a gallon of milk to make a pound of chevre (goat cheese) and the farm makes about 500 pounds of cheese per week. The milking and cheese-making season runs from March (when most of the kids are born) through December (when the adult females are halfway through their next pregnancy and they stop producing milk.)

5:00 pm - Milking time

5:00 pm – Milking time

The goat milk is pasteurized in large vat pasteurizers using the “low temperature, long time” method. The milk is heated to 150 degrees for 30 minutes and then cooled as quickly as possible. Then a commercial cheese-making bacteria and animal rennet are added to make the cheese.

goat cheese bags

And the cheese is…Whoa. It is amazingly smooth and creamy, with just the slightest tang. Our kids loved it. Apparently the most popular flavor of Monterey chevre is garlic and chive, but the plain is heavenly too.

monterey chevre

What can you and your “kids” do with goat cheese? Try it out first like you would cream cheese – Spread a little bit of goat cheese on a cracker or a bagel, or smear a little on a tortilla roll-up. Use goat cheese instead of ricotta cheese on a white pizza. Use goat cheese as a dip for crunchy fresh vegetables. Add some goat cheese to your omelet. Top off a baked potato with goat cheese. Slice a chicken breast in half and stuff it with goat cheese before sauteeing the chicken. Spread goat cheese on an English muffin and top with fresh berries.

Looking for even more ideas? Check out our Favorite Goat Cheese Recipes board on Pinterest – and let us know if you have any favorites of your own.

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6 Responses to Farm-Fresh Goat Cheese

  1. Laura @ Family Spice August 26, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Oh wow! What a fabulous visit and I’m drooling over that fresh goat cheese, which is my personal FAVORITE cheese in the whole-wide WORLD!

    • Jeanne August 26, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

      Thanks, Laura! I was thinking about you because I was just eyeing my goat cheese and thinking how tasty it would be with some lovely olive oil! : ) Hope you’ve had a great summer!

  2. valentina September 7, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    First, I adore that image of the goat. Adore! What a cool place to visit — and goat cheese is at the top of my delicious cheese list. 🙂

    • Jeanne September 7, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

      Thanks, Valentina!

  3. Priscilla @ She's Cookin' September 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    Awww, I love your closeup of the goat 🙂 I grew up on goat’s milk and it’s the best milk for you (lower in fat than cow’s milk and easier to digest). We used to go to the Berkshires several time a year when Don’s daughters were young and we’re going back there in October. We love goat cheese and I use it a lot because its lower in sodium than most cheeses – I’m going to keep my eye out for Monterey Chevre.

    • Jeanne September 8, 2014 at 7:50 am #

      Great to know about goat cheese! Thanks, Priscilla!

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