Tag Archives: Ribblesdale Cheese Blog

Raw vs Pasteurised cheese by Marcella Wright

Stilton (PDO) made with Pasteurized Milk

Here is an interesting discussion from American Marcella the Cheesemonger Raw, taken from her blog which can be seen here.

Pasteurized has been a topic of vigorous discussion in the US Cheese Community for decades. 2014 brought passionate discussions following new regulation interpretations by the US FDA. Many popular European raw milk cheeses were delayed or held indefinitely by US Customs, creating havoc at cheese counters… and annoying cheese lovers nationwide.

The controversy surrounding raw milk vs. pasteurized milk and other food safety issues, including the use of wooden planks in aging, reached a feverish pitch last summer. The result: a few French and Italian Cheese Producers simply stopped exporting their iconic cheeses to the US. Here at home, some small-batch Producers chose to stop production of theirAmerican Originals fearing the FDA would ban sales which in turn might bankrupt them.

Parmigiano-Reggiano (Raw); French Goat Brie (Pasteurized); Stilton (Pasteurized); Sleeping Beauty (Raw)

At one point during 2014, the list of cheeses unavailable or delayed by US Customs included Comte, St. Nectaire, Bleu d’Auvergne, Morbier, Raclette, Forme d’Ambert, Tomme de Savoie and Mimolette (due to “Mite infestation”).

For the 2014 season, Andy Hatch, Owner of Uplands Cheeseand maker of Pleasant Ridge Reserve, chose to not make his lush, seasonal Rush Creek.  In an August 2014 press release Andy stated, “It’s disappointing news, I know, and we hope that it’s not permanent. Food safety officials have been unpredictable, at best, in their recent treatment of soft, raw-milk cheeses, and until our industry is given clear and consistent guidance, we are forced to stop making these cheeses.” (Please read Cheese Underground’s posting for more information on Any’s decision.)

Andy’s decision followed another controversial FDA questioning the use of wood planks for aging cheese (Questioning it food safe). Using wooden planks for aging is almost as old as cheese, but the FDA, in its quest to save us from ourselves, attempted to change the rules. Public and cheese community outcry caused the FDA to back-off… at least temporarily.

To produce and sell raw milk cheese in the US, the FDA requires raw milk cheese be aged a minimum of sixty days. Otherwise, cheese must be made from pasteurized milk.

In asking questions of Cheese Professionals for the 2015 series of interviews I posed the following:

“Raw vs. Pasteurized? Does it matter? What difference does it make in the final product?”

Here are a few of their thoughts on the subject (Bios of each Professional are available by clicking on their names):

Chelsea Faris ACS CCP

Chelsea Faris ACS CCP™:If your dedication is to quality and the perfect flavor profile, it shouldn’t matter one way or another. Dedication to understanding the terroir, your animals and the recipe is what’s most important in making a glorious cheese. It’s about being original. Do what makes your cheese taste the best.” 

Kehau Monteiro ACS CCP™: “I enjoy both but I do find that unpasteurized

Kehau Monteiro ACS CCP

cheeses do have a tang that pasteurized cheeses do not have and they tend to be more flavorful. I love the idea that unpasteurized cheese is sort of the mother’s milk of cheeses. There’s so many health benefits to unpasteurized cheese.”

Sue Sturman, Director, Academie Opus Caseus

Sue Sturman: Director, Academie Opus Caseus: “Cheese made from pasteurized milk can be outstanding, there’s no doubt about it. The raw milk thing is a far more complex issue….we Americans tend to be such reductionists, wanting to distill complexities down to simplicities, and it just doesn’t work that way. Nuance!!!  Raw milk is a philosophy, it’s about biodiversity, about attention to detail, about hand-crafting, about variability and adapting to what the milk presents.  Raw milk products really are different, but the difference is not only or always evident in the sensory analysis.​”

Iris Busjahn ACS CCP

Iris Busjahn ACS CCP™: “There are virtues of both that are fantastic.  It all boils down to if the product is made well, the cheese will sing.”  

Bill Stephenson: Director of Cheese Training, DPI: “It totally matters. I have participated in consumer research on this question and can honestly say that as far as preference goes, it depends on the cheese. I have had examples of cheese where I preferred the pasteurized milk version and examples where I have preferred the raw milk version. But there’s no doubt that it matters, particularly insofar as there is definitely a difference.

Bill Stephenson, Director of Cheese Training, DPI

“Obviously, the heart of the difference has to do with the native microflora of the raw milk which are eliminated by pasteurization. Since by its very nature cheese is a product of microbial fermentation and ripening, it should come as no surprise that cheese made with different microbiological inputs result in different cheese outputs.

“Pasteurization produces a cheeses with a texture that is less firm than its raw milk counterpart and lacking in the amount and diversity of proteases that would be present in a raw milk cheese due to denaturation of proteins during pasteurization along with a lesser concentration and diversity of microflora. Cheeses made from pasteurized milk are also less flavorful than their raw milk counterparts, again due to the differing concentration and diversity of microflora.

“None of that necessarily points to whether or not cheeses made from raw milk are “better,” but they are undeniably different. And if seasonal variability and terroir are of interest, raw milk cheeses have it and pasteurized milk cheeses lack it.

“If safety is a concern, consider that a regulated system that promotes milk pasteurization tacitly (and ironically) allows for poor raw milk quality since pasteurization will be expected to clean up the mess, whereas a regulated system that promotes raw milk production must necessarily have high standards for milk cleanliness. We’ve seen some pretty terrible examples of widespread food borne illness from pasteurizers that were not well looked after during operation that subsequently let through dirty milk into the general public.

“Furthermore, because pasteurized milk lacks the native microflora of raw milk it is a more vulnerable target for unwanted microbiological growth (pathogenic or non-pathogenic) while the native microflora in raw milk functions as a protective barrier to unwanted microbial growth. Lastly, it’s important to bear in mind that cheeses made from pasteurized milk are responsible for the majority of all food borne illnesses associated with cheese, so outlawing raw milk cheese out of a concern for safety may be something of a red herring.

Lisa Futterman ACS CCP

“So yes, raw milk cheeses are fundamentally different from pasteurized milk cheeses and it will be a shame if the FDA moves toward eliminating our choice for raw milk cheeses either by outlawing them altogether or creating an overly punitive regulatory framework that serves to disincentivize the producers. When the animals, the milk, the cheese making and handling are all well looked after, there should be no reason why we can’t continue to produce raw milk cheeses safely in this country.”

Lisa Futterman ACS CCP:  “I am very influenced by my intensive trip to the Jura*. Raw milk cheese tastes better, more complex, and are much more terroir driven.”

Jeanne Carpenter, ACS CCP

Jeanne Carpenter ACS CCP™: “There are lots of outstanding cheeses being made in both categories. I’m not a raw cheese snob. Show me a cheese with excellent flavor and a good story, and I will sell it. Period. ”

*In 2013, Lisa won the Comte Scholarship to visit France’s Jura Region and spend a week touring and learning about the production of Comte.

Interviews will continue throughout 2015… sometimes, they will be “stand-alone” and sometimes they will be presented as round-table discussions with several Cheese Professionals answering the same question. Those participating include Cheesemakers, ACS CCPs™,Cheesemongers and Cheese Professionals and Experts who contribute to this Wonderful World we call “Cheese”.

List of all Interviews from 2013: Cheesemakers, Cheesemongers.

List of 2015 Cheese Professionals.

List of all Cheese Professionals Bios.

Please “Like” MarcellaTheCheesemonger Page on FaceBook.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gloucester Cheese Rolling is Back!

Gloucestershire cheese-rolling champ ‘doesn’t really like cheese’

Pinched from the BBC website

Competitors in the Cheese Rolling on Cooper's Hill race near Brockworth, GloucestershireThousands of spectators gathered on Cooper’s Hill for Gloucestershire’s annual cheese-rolling races

1/5

Related Stories

Thousands of people gathered in Gloucestershire for the traditional cheese-rolling races on Cooper’s Hill.

The unofficial event was organised by rebel cheese rollers, after plans for an official event were shelved in 2010.

An estimated 5,000 people turned out to watch thrill-seekers chase a 3.5kg (8lb) wheel of double Gloucester cheese down the 1:2 gradient hill.

The winner of the first race, Josh Shepherd, said he was “really happy” but “doesn’t really like cheese”.

In total, four 3.5kg (8lb) and three smaller 1.5kg (3lb) cheeses are used – made by Diana Smart, 87, who has been producing them for the event for more than 25 years.

Last year, in a bid to make the race safer, revellers had to chase a foam imitation of a double Gloucester 200m (656ft) down the hill at Brockworth.

But this year, the fake fromage was binned in favour of a real wheel of cheese.

‘Roll with the flow’

The winner of the first race, unemployed Josh Shepherd, 19 – from Brockworth, Gloucester – said he was “really proud” of himself.

“I’ve run quite a few times before but it is the first time I’ve won,” he said.

“My tactic was to stay on my feet and go as fast as I can and roll with the flow.

This year real cheese was back on the menu, as Laura Jones reports

“But I don’t know what I’m going to do with the cheese. I don’t really like cheese unless it’s melted, cheese on toast maybe.”

The second race was won by another local man, Ryan Fairley, 24, from Brockworth, who said his tactic was “just to go”.

“I didn’t do the first race this year but it’s absolutely brilliant to have won,” he said.

“I also won a cheese last year.”

The women’s race was won for the third year running by Lucy Townsend, 17, from Brockworth.

Roads closed

The tradition dates back to at least the early 19th Century.

In 2009, the official event was axed after more than 15,000 people turned up, sparking safety fears over numbers at the site.

Every year since then unofficial races have been organised during the late spring bank holiday by local enthusiasts.

This year, Gloucestershire County Council closed roads up to 2.5 miles ( 4km) around the slope to keep disruption for residents to a minimum.

2 Comments

Filed under Ribblesdale Cheese

New Dates for Cheese Making Courses

1 day enthusiasts course: cost £150 per person, minimum 3 people, max 5 using goat milk

Thursday 5th June 2014 using goat  milk

Thursday 12th June 2014 using goat  milk

Thursday 17th July 2014 using goat  milk

Start time is 8.15am, bring clean shoes that you do not mind getting wet or clean wellies and a notebook if you want to take notes.  We will provide whites and hairnets and all equipment.

The cost is £125 +VAT = £150 and you will take home your cheese for further pressing.  During the day, we will discuss the science behind cheese making, common pitfalls, cheese safety awareness, the various steps to hard cheese making, answer any questions you may have and you will be able to help make a larger vat of cheese if you fancy it.  We hope to give you enough knowledge and confidence to make decent cheese safely at home.  We always hold cheese making classes at the same time as making 1,900 litres of goat cheese in our large vat so it can be interesting to compare small makes to large makes – it is the same process.  Goat milk handles in exactly the same way as cow’s milk for anyone wondering!

We should finish at about 2.30pm, but you are welcome to stay on for a brew and watch or even join in the rest of the cheese making in the large vat.  If you need somewhere to stay, we recommend Cocketts Hotel in Hawes, but here is a link to Trip Advisor on all Hawes B&Bs and hotels.

If you are interested, please e-mail Iona at ionahill@gmail.com

2 Day Commercial Course: cost £450 per person, minimum 2 people, maximum 4

Wednesday and Thursday 25th and 26th June 2014

Wednesday and Thursday 9th and 10th July 2014

Wednesday and Thursday 23rd and 24th July 2014

The first day is discussion day and is geared towards the activities you need to consider to make cheese commercially, from what to make, how much, how often, equipment needed, financial costings, where to sell, the legalities and so on.  The course is tailored to your needs and is completely flexible but very intense.

Start time for Day 1 is 9am.  Bring a note book, I will provide a comprehensive set of notes for you to take away.  We should finish at about 4pm.

Day 2 the start time is 8.15am, bring clean shoes or wellies and a notebook if you want to take notes.  We will provide whites and hairnets and all equipment.  We should finish at about 2.30pm and will take a break for 30 minutes whilst I clean down and this will give you chance to consider any questions arising from our cheese make and the previous day’s discussions.  We always hold cheese making classes at the same time as processing 1,900 litres of goat milk so you can compare small scale to large scale and see us at work on that.

The cost is £375 +VAT = £450 and you will take home your cheese for further pressing.

If you need somewhere to stay, we recommend Cocketts Hotel in Hawes, but here is a link to Trip Advisor on all Hawes B&Bs and hotels.

If you are interested, please e-mail Iona at ionahill@gmail.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Ribblesdale Cheese

Miscellaneous Facts about Goat Milk and Ribblesdale Cheese Production

Yorkshire Goat Gouda

Our best selling Superior Goat Gouda

Almost 90% of our sales are goat cheese.  We process around 3,800 litres each week and make Superior Goat Gouda, Original Goat, Matured Natural Rinded Goat, Goat curd and two smoked varieties from our small smoker: Smoked Superior Goat and Smoked Original Goat.  That makes 6 core goat cheeses from Ribblesdale Cheese.  Sometimes we make an unpasteurised goat cheese and sometimes we put cranberry in to the Original Goat.

Our best seller is the Superior Goat Gouda, followed by our Original Goat.  They are two very different cheeses, the

Ribblesdale Original Goat

Ribblesdale Original Goat

former being a gouda, so a dense, creamy, smooth paste with a slight tang and the Original Goat is made in a Wensleydale style: mild, crumbly and creamy.

Our new goat curd is going from strength to strength and if it continues selling as it is, it will soon account for about 7% of our

Little pillows of Goat Curd

Little pillows of Goat Curd

sales.

Q: Why is goat milk white?

A: When we run cheese making classes, after we have finished and washed down, we have started doing a little cheese tasting.

Only afterwards do I point out that all of the goat cheeses are white.  This is because goat milk lacks beta carotene, the yellow/orange pigment that imparts rich golden tones in most cheese, particularly those made with cow milk.  A goat converts beta carotene into Vitamin A, which lacks color and that is why goat milk and cheese is white.  Grass is rich in the antioxidant vitamin beta-carotene, so you tend to find that the milk from grass fed dairy cows result in the deepest yellow cheeses; the buttery yellow colors in cheese develop over time, so while a fresh cow milk cheese may be nearly as white as a fresh goat cheese, the differences in color tone will be much more apparent in aged cheeses. 

Q: How much milk does a goat give?

A: Typically, a goat will provide about 2-3 litres of milk a day.  Compare this to a cow which can give between 15-25 litres of milk a day and you start to understand why goat milk is more expensive than cow’s milk – about twice the price per litre, but interestingly, our goat cheese does not cost twice as much as most cow’s cheese.  Something wrong there…..

Q: I am lactose intolerant, can I drink goat milk?

A: If you are lactose intolerant and unable to drink cow’s milk, it is worth trying goat’s milk.  Goat’s milk contains less lactose than cow’s milk and is often recommended if you are allergic to cow’s milk.  Your allergy is probably caused by a protein found in cow milk called alpha S1 casein protein.  Both human milk and goat milk lacks this protein.

Q: How long can a goat live for?

A: Up to about 12 years.  They are clever and inquisitive creatures, with far more character than say a sheep.  They like to live together in families with a routine and are usually housed in large barns, bedded on straw with plenty of light and air and space to jump around.

Q: What is the gestation period of a goat?

A: 5 months

Q: What kind of goats are there?

A: The most popular breed of dairy goats in the world is the Saanen, derived from goats that originated in the Saanen valley in Switzerland.  The milk from this breed of goat is very similar to that from Friesland cows in terms of solids, i.e. butterfat and protein content.   Saanen milk is white and has a creamy texture, and tastes a little sweeter than cow’s milk.  Other breeds of goats include British Alpines, Toggenburgs, also from the Swiss Alps and floppy eared Nubians which give high solids.  The British Toggenburg occurs when a Toggenburg is crossed with any other of the Swiss breeds.

Other strange facts about why goat milk is good for you

  • Goat’s milk is more similar to human breast milk than any other food
  • More people around the world drink goat milk than any other milk
  • Goat milk also has a higher content of riboflavin (vitamin B2,) than cow milk. Riboflavin, metabolises other minerals such as proteins and carbohydrates and  strengthens your immune system by stimulating the production of antibodies
  • Goat milk contains more protein and calcium than cow milk

 

2 Comments

Filed under Ribblesdale Cheese

First Sheep Make of 2014 Part 1

Andrew, our favourite milk delivery driver dropped off 1,500 litres of sheep’s milk with us yesterday.  It is always nice to see Andrew – it has been almost a year.  He is in

Pasteurised milk going in to the vat through the swinging arm

Pasteurised milk going in to the vat through the swinging arm

good health and continues to go to his dancing dos.  It was nice to see him and I swear, he does not look a day older.

So, this morning, Stu pasteurised 1,500 litres of sheep’s milk and added the starter culture at around 9am and ripened for an hour.  He renneted at 10am and cut at about 10.30am.  Sheep’s milk is always sets quickly.  It always amazes us at how thick, creamy and rich ewe’s milk is, compared to goat or cow.  It does handle differently, though I think cow and goat milk are pretty similar in the way they behave; cow’s milk is slightly thicker and creamier, on account of having higher solids, particularly fat, but they handle in a very similar way to my mind.

A filched picture of Simon Stott's milking parlour

A filched picture of Simon Stott’s milking parlour

We are lucky to have such a good source of ewe’s milk, from Simon Stott’s SMUK, based in Chipping, in Lancashire.  All of the cheese makers close to us in Yorkshire who process ewe’s milk use Simon’s milk, e.g. Shepherd’s Purse and Wensleydale Dairy and all of our Lancashire cheese making friends such as Carron Lodge, Greenfields, Chris Sandham, Butlers and Singletons.  I am quite proud of our association: Ribblesdale Cheese, my uncle before me, have been dealing with Simon and

Stu cutting the curd

Stu cutting the curd

his father before him, for at least 20 years.

Andrew has arrived, at 11am and is washing Wednesday’s Superior Goat Gouda make pots which Stu vac packed this morning and I weighed.  Andrew will help

The curd cutter, which is heavy, standing upright in 1,500 litres of sheep's milk

The curd cutter, which is heavy, standing upright in 1,500 litres of sheep’s milk

Stu after the whey has been taken off.  Stu is now in stirring mode.  The shovel can stand upright as there is so much curd in the vat.  I would expect a yield of around 17% for this make, which should make around 120 pots or so.

In Part 2, I will show us taking the whey off, blocking and potting up when I will also give Stu and Andrew a hand.  We had to make two batches of Superior Goat Gouda this week because we do not have enough space in the press!  Such is

The curd after being stirred

The curd after being stirred

life.

At 11.30am, it is snowing outside, but not yet settling here, by our front door, so there is still no winner to the snow book!

1 Comment

Filed under Ribblesdale Cheese

The Last Week at Ribblesdale Cheese

Yet another January week gone by in a blur.  I have a theory that January days go faster than other days in the

A gratuitous picture of Penny Pig (left) and Snouter crammed into Snouter's bed

A gratuitous picture of Penny Pig (left) and Snouter (right) shoe horned into Snouter’s bed

rest of the year.  Mondays are always busy for both of us.  Last Monday, Stu made a small vat of Wensleydale which was timely as we had run out.  Whilst tending the vat, the pair of us put the press load of Original Goat cheese into vac packs and I took them into the wholesale area and vac packed and weighed them.

I always weigh each make to establish firstly the average weight, to ensure that they are the right sort of size (and we are not getting carried away at potting up time – sometimes when they are a little on the …er…chunky side, they don’t fit in their boxes!) and secondly the yield.  If the yield is out of kilter, this could point to an issue with the make or the milk, something we need to know so we can investigate.  It is also useful to know how the yield varies according to the season.

Also on the agenda every Monday is decanting goat curd into 500g plastic pots for a customer collection on Tuesday.  Last Tuesday was not a mad waxing day which felt very liberating.  We are quiet and we did not need to replenish the shelves, so we thought we would give ourselves a break from waxing.  Stu pottered in the dairy whilst I researched buying more goat curd pots, only I would like to replace them with clear plastic.  I contacted a large number of pot makers, only to be told by the majority that I would need to speak to their rep who would contact me.  To date, we have been contacted by one rep who very kindly sent a couple of samples, which we tried out today, so I will be placing an order.  Tuesday was restocking day: I ordered more advice note books, new weight ticket labels, more sellotape and pallet wrap, starter culture – all very exciting stuff.

One very clean dairy

One very clean dairy

Wednesday and Thursday were dairy days for Stu and Andrew making 1,900 litres of Superior Goat Gouda, 300 litres of Goat Curd and 1,600 litres of Original Goat.

On Wednesday, after the dairy had been put to bed and Stu and Andrew had left for the day, I had a visitor, Richard Clarke, the production director for WDP who came for a brew and a chat and to see if they could use our dairy to make another batch of unpasteurised Wensleydale.  It was nice to see Richard, always good to catch up with cheesey friends.

On Thursday, I went to see a cheesey friend, Simon Lacey who makes cheese up at The Station in Richmond and had a good catch up.  Simon has been making cheese at The Station in Richmond for six years now.  Doesn’t time fly!

And on Friday, first thing, Stu and I took care of Wednesday’s Superior Goat Gouda make and whilst I vac packed and weighed it, Stu cleaned down the dairy.  Then we salted and packed that week’s goat curd.

Whilst Stu spent the rest of the day in the dairy, I had the pleasure of Andrew and Sally’s company for the rest of the afternoon – our first paid consulting gig!  Andrew farms, though I have to say he is the first farmer I have met with a PhD!  His wife, Sally, is a special needs dentist and together they are thinking of possibly entering the cheese making arena, not now, but maybe in a few year’s time and wanted to fact find to determine whether this could be a viable proposition.  I think we all agreed that it could a viable business as they have their own cows and the idea fits with their current priorities and lifestyle; we did some sums and talked through a wide range of issues and requirements.  It was a great way to end the week, talking cheese with an interesting couple.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ribblesdale Cheese

The Guardian and The Grocer: the Goat Cheese Shortage of 2014

There is an article in the online version of the Grocer, but it will not let me copy and paste – how very wise – so here is an article from the Guardian that starts off in what I hope is a tongue in cheek kind of way.  But before that….

This is the time of year when the goats kid and goat milk is scarce.  Lack of supply is exacerbated by the weather, so, for example, goats like most of us, do not like the snow and cold.  The Guardian points to an increase in demand for goat cheese and difficulty in obtaining milk as the supply is ‘sewn up’ – this is so true.  I reckon (this is a guesstimate, based on my knowledge of goat milk availability) that between them, St Helens and what was Delamere probably have control over about 96% of all goat milk in the UK.   One factor which isn’t discussed much is that the large processors cannot get enough local milk resulting in the need to import it, particularly from Holland, where producer numbers, especially at the smaller end of the scale, have fallen because of low prices and rising costs together with the latest disease to affect goats: Q Fever.  The Guardian also cites a European reduction in demand for soft cheese such as chevre, something I have not heard before.  Everyone is saying that goat cheese production should be back to normal in April and I am sure this will happen.  As for us, the tiniest of all tiny goat cheese specialists, we do have milk and we also have cheese, so fear not, the Ribblesdale Cheese cold room is fully stocked.

This is the Guardian article: Why are supplies of chèvre running so low, and whatever will vegetarians eat until the situation is resolved?

Goatr's cheese and onion tart

Goat’s cheese and onion tart: Delia has a lot to answer for. Photograph: Antonio Zazueta Olmos/Antonio Olmos

Stockpile the chèvre and bulk-buy the rosary ash: there’s a goat’s cheese shortage. Warnings have been circulating for months, but now restaurants and retailers are reporting supply problems. Pizza Express isrunning low on goat’s cheese in some of its branches and while supermarkets haven’t run out of goat’s cheese yet, some are anticipating problems: “there may be some supply issues as we move into February,”a Co-op spokesperson told The Grocer. “Cheese producers are telling me they’re finding it hard to get goat’s milk,” says John Farrand, managing director, Guild of Fine Food, which runs the World Cheese Awards. How did we get here, and how long will goat’s cheese lovers and gastropubs have to cope without their favourite fromage?

“It’s a perfect storm of rising demand and falling production, in both the UK and Europe,” says Mike Hind, marketing manager at St Helen’s Farm. “There’s been a steady increase in demand for fresh goat’s milk, primarily from people realising they might be having digestive issues with cow’s milk.” Demand for the milk has a knock-on effect for the cheese, particularly as “the UK is not self-sufficient in goat’s milk”. Things were made worse here in the UK because of the poor weather last winter, which lead to lower production, says Hind. The growing popularity of goat’s cheese means more producers are getting into the sector, “but finding it hard to get milk as established producers have the supply sewn up,” says Farrand.

To meet demand, some British producers import goat’s milk from the continent, but it’s there where shortages are really beginning to bite. Production is down across Europe, particularly in France, where some goat farmers have quit the industry because of low prices, and Holland, which is yet to fully recover from a 2010 cull to prevent the spread of Q fever. Couple decreased production with Europe-wide demand for soft French chèvres in particular, and the fact that goat’s milk production is naturally lower in the winter et voila: un shortage. “On an industry level, we’re aware that in some cases demand is outstripping supply, particularly for French goat’s cheese,” says Chris Dawson, cheese buyer at Waitrose.

Industry experts predict that the great goat’s cheese shortage of 2014 will last until around April. In the meantime, British goat’s cheeses seem to be more easily available than soft French ones: “We stock such an extensive range of British goat’s cheese, that we’ve maintained good availability.” says Waitrose’s Dawson. “We’ve been able to keep up with demand as we make a hard goat’s cheese like a cheddar, and the majority of the market is for soft goat’s cheeses,” says Hind.

Without soft chèvre, what will chefs offer vegetarian diners? “As bad as the shortage is for farmers, it might be a nice thing for vegetarians who’ll finally get a bit of variation when they’re eating out or round people’s houses,” says food writer Alice Hart, author of Vegetarian. “Goat’s cheese became a stock vegetarian dish in the 1990s, around the same time that balsamic vinegar and sun-dried tomatoes were huge,” says Hart. “Delia has a lot to answer for with those caramelised red onion and goat’s cheese tarts that ended up on every menu.” In the States, goat’s cheese found its champion in Alice Waters, who sparked a craze for salads topped with baked chèvre in the 1980s.  Both goat’s cheese tarts and salads are still menu fixtures in restaurants and pubs across Britain. Hart would like to see chefs move away from the cheese and create more inventive vegetarian options: “Thai salads, vegetarian summer rolls – something with a bit of pep to it.” If the goat’s cheese shortage lasts much longer, they may be forced to.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ribblesdale Cheese