How to make customers fall in love with goats’ cheese

24 July 2023, 14:30 PM
  • Some shoppers have sworn off goats’ cheese, but can savvy cheesemongers change their minds?
How to make customers fall in love with goats’ cheese

For many, goats’ cheese is a must-have on a cheeseboard. Hard or soft, locally made or imported, there are countless fantastic options to stock your fridges with.

But for some, goat’s milk cheese is a no-go. “Goat’s milk cheese is generally divisive as it contains a ‘musty’ or ‘leathery’ taste that is a bit like Marmite or coriander in its divisiveness,” explains Edward Hancock of The Cheese Geek.

Speciality Food digs into the science behind goats’ cheese’s unique flavour and whether, with a few tips and tricks, cheesemongers can make their customers fall in love.

Where does goats’ cheese get its flavour?

As Edward tells Speciality Food, the root cause of the divisiveness around goats’ cheese is an enzyme in goats’ milk (capric acid) that is released when it is poorly processed. If the milk is ‘sloshed’ during processing, this disrupts its chemical structure. “It is this enzyme that produces the ‘musty/goaty/leathery’ flavour,” Edward says.

“Generally speaking, the highest-quality, best produced goat milk won’t have an overpowering flavour that puts people off,” Edward says. “It will be subtle, and dominated by creamy, nutty and slightly sweet flavours. Sometimes even malty.” He points to three examples: Sinodun Hill made by Norton and Yarrow, Golden Cross made by Kevin and Alison Blunt and Ireland’s St Tola.

These cheeses minimise pumping, transport and disruption of milk, and the curds are hand-scooped gently and carefully. They are also produced in small batches, putting quality before quantity.

How to sell goats’ cheese

“The first tip I’d give is never to be negative about goats’ cheese,” says Patricia Michelson, founder of La Fromagerie. Point to the many positives consumers can take away, she advises: “It is not only delicious but also healthy, as the milk is easily digested and very nutritious.”

Once you’ve explained the benefits of goat milk cheese and the science behind that ‘goaty’ flavour, the proof is in the pudding – or the sampling

Tread carefully here. “Our French friends favour that goaty, lactic cheese,” says James Grant of No2 Pound Street. “Fresh goats’ cheese is more acidic. There is naturally more capric acid in goats’ cheese. More often, people would have tried this fresh, lactic style from France and perhaps been put off.”

“I would either start with a very light, fresh style with a lovely lemon-salt taste, or a semi-hard goat cheese, which will have had time to expel more moisture and concentrate the flavours into a sweeter taste with a fudgy texture,” Patricia suggests.

Edward agrees that cheesemongers should help customers to explore all the variety goats’ cheeses have to offer. “We do love to challenge customers and surprise them, and often if we’re told by a customer they don’t like goat milk cheese, we will send them something very different in style. A great example would be Rachel, made by Roger Longman at White Lake. It’s a slightly more aged, semi-hard Tomme-style cheese made with goat milk. It’s sweet, nutty and complex with barely any hint of goatiness,” Edward says. 

As well as Rachel, James also recommends Tinto from Errington Cheese. “Both cheeses are loosely based on Gouda recipes and are washed curd. This means they are gentle and sweeter. They are delicious and a great starting point to develop your palate.”

Goats’ cheeses that have a dusting of ash, which helps to draw out the stronger, gamey flavour of the milk, are another good option, Patricia says. “Golden Cross, Brightwell Ash and Elrick Log are all cheeses that tick the boxes with their ash coats.”

Showing off a different side to goats’ milk cheese breaks the stereotypes customers might have in their minds. “I think too many consumers just associate goats’ milk cheese with young, fresh, acidic, lactic goats’ cheeses, when in fact it is as variable as cow or sheep,” Edward adds. “Once someone realises all goat isn’t the same, you can then start to challenge them again on the classic French-style cheeses!”

Gary Yeomans, chairman of the Milking Goat Association, agrees: “Goats’ milk cheeses are absolutely delicious and available in lots of different styles - soft, hard, bloomy rind, washed rind and blue. The flavours that you get from these cheeses are spectacular; from citrus and almond nuances in young fresh cheeses through to deep nutty tastes in hard style goats’ cheeses.

“Consumers often don’t realise that goats’ cheeses come in so many different styles or have such different flavours which makes them great cheeses for cheesemongers to talk to customers about. They are also extremely versatile to use. As well as enjoying them on a cheeseboard you can also cook lots of different recipes with them,” Gary says.

Goats’ cheese recipes and pairings

When in doubt, offering suggestions of how to cook with goats’ cheese or providing pairing ideas might act as a gateway for the goats’-cheese-curious.

To balance the flavour of the cheese, try pairing it with:
• Honey
• Figs
• Walnuts

“Whilst allowing your customer to have their first taste of goat cheese, you should also initiate the great partners in wine, cider and even Champagne to lift the flavours and give the cheeses their prominence on the cheeseboard,” Patricia explains. Why not host a cheesemaker for a tasting in your shop to spark conversations with customers? 

Goats’ cheese recipes

Whether your customers are goats’ cheese lovers or are still on the fence, some practical cooking tips are a sure-fire way to spark curiosity. Take a look at the recipe ideas below.

Tomato & Goat’s Cheese Galette
A simple, free-form tart that’s baked baking sheet.

Clodagh McKenna’s Wild Garlic Tagliatelle with Goat’s Cheese
Light, fragrant and perfect for springtime.

Courgette, Goats Cheese and Brown Rice Flour Fritters
Made with rice flour, these fritters are suitable for gluten-free diets.

Broad Bean Salad & Goat’s Cheese
Tangy goats’ cheese tastes fabulous with seasonal broad beans and zingy dressing.

Rukmini Iyer’s Barbecued Aubergine & Goat’s Cheese Stacks
A perfect veggie option for the barbecue.

Fig, Goat’s Cheese & Herb Salad
Fresh and flavourful, perfect for a light lunch.

Rainbow Tomato Tart with Goat’s Cheese
Easy to make and perfect for using up your summer glut of tomatoes.

Goats’ cheese FAQs

Does goats’ cheese have lactose?

Yes, goats’ cheese contains lactose. However, it has less than cows’ milk. Unfortunately for those with severe lactose intolerance, this makes goats’ cheese a no go, but those with a mild intolerance may be able to try it.

Is goats’ cheese healthy?

Goats’ cheese contains a number of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, as well as protein and probiotics.

Is goats’ cheese vegetarian?

Not always. Many goats’ cheeses are vegetarian as they don’t contain animal rennet, but some do, so it is always good practice for retailers to display this.

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