Ruminants Make Good Cheese

Where does cheese come from? The answer is milk.

Some people think cheese only comes from cow’s milk. The reality is that there is a heck of  a lot of cheese made from other ruminants. In fact, the best cheese comes from ruminants.

You ask – What the heck is a ruminant?

A ruminant has a four compartment stomach which is capable of efficiently digesting grass and fiber. Ruminants can subsist by grazing. Cows, sheep and goats are ruminants.

When a ruminant has finished eating, the food is brought back up and rechewed. This is called chewing the cud or rumination. Ruminants make a lot of gas in their stomachs and belch about once every minute. If the belching stops the stomach swells with gas.

A non-ruminant mammal has a single chamber stomach and are called monogastrics. Examples of non-ruminants are humans, dogs, cats and pigs. Non-ruminants do NOT make good cheese.

There are about 150 species of ruminant. The population of domestic ruminants is greater than 3.5 billion, with cattle, sheep, and goats accounting for about 95% of the total population. I guess that’s why 95% of cheese is cow, sheep or goat.

Canada has 13,945,000 cattle. No I didn’t count them. That statistic comes from wikipedia. Canada has the 9th highest cattle population in the world. Canada is also ranked in the top ten countries of consumers of cow’s milk and cow’s milk products per capita (2006).

Sheep – Google Images

Stats Canada estimated that there were 825,300 sheep and lambs on farms in Canada as of January 1, 2008. While less than 2% of the world’s milk output comes from sheep, its composition makes it more nutritious than cow’s milk, and easier to digest.

Goat – Google Images

In 2001, Statistics Canada reported the Canadian goat population at 182,151. That was a 45% increase since 1996 in goat population. Goats produce approximately 2% of the world’s total annual milk supply.

Water buffalo, Reindeer, yaks, and even camels are other ruminants that provide milk for cheese in some regions of the world.

So there you have it. It is probably more than you wanted to know about ruminants but it does help explain why pig cheese is so unpopular.

Nosey Goat Camelot Cheese – Video Inspiration

Nosey Goat Camelot

Nosey Goat Camelot

I picked up some Nosey Goat Camelot last week during a visit to the Upper Canada Cheese Store in Jordon Station, Ontario (Canada). This cheese was out on the sampling counter. Amidst all of the golden yellow cheeses made from Guernsey Cow milk was this pale white cheese. As the staff offered me a sample piece I was braced for disappointment but was instead rewarded with a surprisingly good cheese, a goat cheese.

Nosey Goat Camelot Cheese

Nosey Goat Camelot Cheese

The Nosey Goat Camelot cheese is made from the milk from a herd of Lamancha goats in Keene, Ontario.  This cheese is semi-hard and aged for 2 months.

Nosey Goat Camelot Cheese Wheel

Nosey Goat Camelot Cheese Wheel

Nosey Goat Camelot took top honors at the 2011 Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. It won Reserve Champion in the goat cheese division.

Nosey Goat Camelot Cheese

Nosey Goat Camelot Cheese

What does Nosey Goat Camelot cheese taste like? This is a mild goat cheese with a firm paste. It is well balanced and mildly salty. It has a great texture and slices easily. I recommend savouring thin slices by letting it melt on your tongue. It dissolves slowly and turns creamy. It will excite your taste buds as you explore the unfolding of flavour. It has a short and soft finish. It’s not strong yet it steps right up and greets you with a flavour presence that is “just right”.

I am still somewhat inexperienced exploring goat cheeses. I have not tried very many as compared to cow’s milk cheeses. Yet, this is the cheese that is motivating me to increase my experimenting with goat cheese.

Nosey Goat Camelot is now my benchmark semi-firm goat cheese. It will be interesting to compare others against it. If you want to include a goat cheese on a cheese board I suggest you give Nosey Goat Camelot serious consideration. I think it is unique but in a safe way that most people will either accept or really like.

Nosey Goat Camelot is the cheese that has inspired me to try producing my first cheese video.

Chevre Noir – Canadian Goat Cheddar

Chevre Noir is a Canadian made goat cheddar produced by Fromagerie Tournevent in Chesterville, Quebec. It was developed in 1988 by a Louise Lefebvre. It was introduced to the market in 1989. Fromagerie Tournevent has subsequently been purchased by Damafro.

Chevre Noir - Goat Cheddar

This wasn’t the best cheese picture I’ve ever taken. In fact, I’ll admit that my picture doesn’t do the cheese justice. So here is a picture from Google Images that shows just how sexy this cheese is.

Chevre Noir - Image from Google Images

Chevre Noir is a lovely creamy white encased in an elegant black wax. It is a pretty good looking combination.

This cheese is firm, almost crumbly. It has a sharp taste with a bit of tang. I would consider it full flavored and definitely a cheddar. In fact, it tasted pretty much as I had expected with an extra bit of zip. Chevre Noir is aged for a minimum of one year. Upon researching the cheese, the consensus seems to be that it improves further with age. The Cheese Boutique ages it on site for three years.

Is goat cheese an acquired taste? I will admit that as I try more goat cheeses they are starting to grow on me. Don’t get excited … I’m not sending the cows home just yet.

This cheese still ranks behind some of my favorites like Beemster XO, Roaring Forties Blue Cheese and my recently discovered Niagara Gold. However, I am developing a new respect for goat cheese thanks to the Chevre Noir.

I think Chevre Noir is an interesting cheese for the cheese board. Most people like cheddar and Chevre Noir is cheddar with a twist … a good twist.

Woolwich Dairy Triple Creme Goat Brie

My cheese adventure has led me to try Woolwich Dairy’s Triple Creme Goat Brie.

I like Brie. Double creme is good, triple creme is even better. However, until now, I have only tried cow’s milk Brie. I didn’t even realize there was such a thing as goat’s milk Brie.

I found this cheese at a local Loblaws supermarket. I must be a sucker for nice packaging. The little wooden box looked so classy that I figured there must be something very good inside.

Woolwich Dairy is a family owned, and operated, cheese company located in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada. Their website claims that they are Canada’s largest and leading goat cheese producer. They have a 40,000 SF manufacturing facility which, by my standards, is pretty darn big. They bring in milk daily from 200 local goat farmers. The cheese plant has a viewing gallery where visitors can see cheese being made. It sounds like a road trip with my kids is in the near future.

Because I am only familiar with cow’s milk Brie I wasn’t sure what to expect. In the past, I’ve had some goat cheeses that I enjoyed, and a few … well not so much.

When you take the cheese out of the wooden container it is wrapped in white paper, just like cow’s milk Brie. Upon removing the paper it looks and feels like cow’s milk Brie. I let it stand for an hour to come to room temperature. I’ve learned that cheese almost always tastes its best when at room temperature. When I cut into the cheese it looked like the cow’s milk Brie I was used to, only a bit firmer.

Upon tasting it, I could not help myself from comparing it to cow’s milk Brie. There was more similarity than difference. It was milder and different, but not in a bad way.

The tasting was a bit anticlimactic for me. I’m going to have to do some side by side tasting with another goat Brie, or a cow’s milk Brie to really figure this goat Brie thing out. I didn’t love it nor did I dislike it.

I’m stuck with indifference on this Goat’s Milk Brie for the time being.