With its highly versatile flavours which can be used in a
variety of recipes, it?s no surprise that there are over a hundred types of
goat?s cheese and that it is produced all over France.
Even today, the basic manufacturing process remains the same
as it has done for centuries. First, the fermenting agents and rennet are added
to fresh milk to curdle it, before the solids are drained, moulded into shapes
and salted, ready to be sold fresh or aged in cellars.
Goat?s cheeses come in
all kinds of shapes, including circles, logs, cylinders and pyramids, with many
producers claiming that the shape can affect the flavour.
Due to their small size, goat?s cheeses age rapidly, fast
turning creamier and forming an ivory-coloured rind. After just three or four
weeks, they become dry, sharp and brittle.
An essential staple of a classic French cheese platter,
goat?s cheese can also be served as a separate course of its own, served with
fruit jam, olive oil, honey or walnuts. It is also widely used as an
accompaniment in dishes such as salads, quiches, omelettes and soups.
Goat?s cheese is best enjoyed in season ? spring to
mid-autumn ? as goats only produce milk between March and October, making this
half of the year the only period when fresh goat?s cheese should be available.
Any sold at other times of year are generally made from frozen milk, or from
goats whose reproductive cycle has been adjusted. The very best cheeses are the
artisanal varieties, bought straight from the producer, rather than those sold
at supermarkets. Once you?ve bought your goat?s cheese, keep it in the bottom
of the fridge, wrapped in its original paper, and take it out of its packaging
half an hour before serving.
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