Back to Basics: What Exactly is ‘Goat Cheese’?


Oh, hi there. It’s been awhile since we’ve gone back to basics in the world of cheese but here we are again, full of cheese-y ideas and rarin’ to go! In this triumphant return to the series, we’re turning our attention to goat cheese.

If you’ve gone out to eat or even had a pizza delivered in the past couple years, chances are good you’ve come across the term ‘goat cheese’ on a number of occasions. But what exactly is it? Isn’t the name just a bit vague?

Well, yes it is. But you can pretty much count on ‘goat cheese’ to indicate ‘chèvre’- the fresh, creamy, crumbly cheese made from goat’s milk that often has a consistency like a dry cream cheese. Most chèvres have a citrus-y flavor and are noted for having minimal “goatiness”/”farminess”/”hoofiness”, etc. that a considerable number of people find unappetizing. Here in the U.S., chèvres are always pasteurized when sold in markets because they’re only aged for a couple of weeks, making them just about the freshest and youngest cheeses you can find. (We sell several lovely local options in our Cheese Department if your interest has been piqued!)

But guess what? Goat milk can be used to make all sorts of cheeses! There’s a whole world of goat milk cheese to explore beyond what’s usually referred to as ‘goat cheese’ and we’re excited to introduce you to this diverse and delicious world. We carry cheddars, mozzarella, tommes, gouda, brie-style, feta, and even one blue cheese, all made from goat’s milk! That’s a lot of variety beyond little ol’ chèvre!

Here are some of our favorite goat cheeses:

Cablanca Goat Gouda– Imported from Holland, this is an addictive cheese made from pasteurized goat’s milk. It’s a tantalizing balance of sweet, tangy, and salty with a pleasant semi-firm consistency and it’s just about the most versatile goat cheese there is outside of chèvre. It slices and melts wonderfully, so it’s fantastic on sandwiches and cheese boards, shredded into salads, baked in a mac & cheese, tossed into scrambled eggs, and so much more!

Mt. Sterling Co-op Creamery Goat Milk Cheddars– Available in both mild and sharp, these little blocks of deliciousness come from family farms in southwest Wisconsin who send their fresh goat milk to the producer-owned creamery in the town Mt. Sterling. Made from raw goat’s milk, they are just a tad goat-y with a firm consistency and pleasant cheddar texture and can also be used any way you would use cow’s milk cheddar. Cheddar Parsnip Soup, anyone?

Crottina by Blue Ledge Farm– These little gems from Leicester, VT have a toothy, supple white rind like brie and are aged for three weeks before sale. Like bries and camemberts, the older Crottina gets, the riper and softer it becomes. Because of its cylindrical shape, three distinct layers develop as it ages: a large, dense center; a creamy, rich in-between layer; and the toothy rind on the outside. We recommend serving it with a little bit of local honey on a baguette alongside a glass of Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Or just scoop it right into your mouth, it’s that good.

Bonne Bouche by Vermont Creamery– Literally “good mouth” or “tasty bite”, the cheesemakers like to think of this ash-ripened goat cheese as “good mouthful” and we couldn’t agree more. Introduced in 2001, it was the first geotrichum-rinded aged goat cheese made by this renowned company and it really stands apart from the crowd. The geotrichum fungi added during cheesemaking gives it a pliable, wrinkly exterior, which the cheesemakers enhance with the addition of a light sprinkle of ash. It’s aged just long enough for the distinctive rind to develop and then each one is packaged in its own little box, giving each one the appearance of a sweet little gift. It’s light and fluffy, yet creamy, and is simply stunning with a glass of rosé and some roasted winter fruit.

Manchester by Consider Bardwell Farm– Looking for something with a hefty kick of goat-y flavor? You might want to consider this amazing tomme-style washed rind cheese made by Consider Bardwell Farm. Crafted from raw goat milk and aged for two-three months, this award-winning peasant-style cheese is earthy and nutty with some distinct pungency (for more information on washed rind cheeses, check out this blog) and a pleasant semi-firm consistency. Each batch is a little different due to rotational grazing so each batch is truly one-of-a-kind!