5 tips to make good goat’s cheese

It’s easier to digest than cow’s cheese, contains less fat, more vitamins and is better suitable for lactose intolerant people. Plus: goats are cute. But how to make a good goat’s cheese? Enjoy the Algarve asks Idálio Martins (35) of Queijaria Martins in Portela da Nave for advice.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine September 2017

 

1. Keep happy goats

An inquisitive bunch of around 200 Andalusian goats can be found in the stable adjacent to the factory in Portela da Nave, close to Salir. They have plenty of land and shade, and in the springtime they go out on the fields in the surrounding countryside. “The Algarve is a good place to keep goats because of the climate here,” explains Idálio. “Goats don’t like the cold; they prefer the heat.” Each goat produces between 2 and 4 litres of milk a day, depending on the animal and the time of year.

 

2. Use artisan methods

Although the goats are milked mechanically, in the factory Idálio (pictured on the right) and his workers shape the cheeses manually, pressing them into a mould by hand like traditional cheesemakers have been doing for decades. This way, they produce between 700 and 800 cheeses a day, five days a week. A time-consuming method? Yes. But Idálio wouldn’t want it any other way: “I want to create a traditional product and the only way to do this, is by using artisan methods.”

 

3. Keep it natural

Instead of rennet*, the Martins family works with milk thistle, a plant that’s called flor de cardo in Portuguese. “This also gives the cheese a softer taste,” explains Idálio. “There are only natural ingredients in our cheese: goat’s milk, milk thistle and some sea salt. No additives, aromas or colourants, nothing chemical at all.

*(Rennet is a complex of enzymes found in the stomach of baby mammals, which allows them to process their mother’s milk. It’s normally used in cheese-making to curdle the milk.)

 

4. Always use fresh milk

“We always work with fresh milk of our own goats,” stresses Idálio. “You can only produce good quality cheese if you have good quality milk. Otherwise, it won’t work.”

For a single cheese of around 180 grams, about a litre of goat’s milk is needed. “Also extremely important when it comes to producing good cheese is good hygiene, in every single step of the production process.”

 

5. Work with passion

Although Idálio was previously working in the aluminium industry, the passion for dairy farming runs in his family. “A long time ago, my grandparents had sheep and used the milk to make cheese,” he explains. “I like working with goats and being around animals. That’s why I produce goat’s cheese, because I like it. For me, this more than just a way to make money; it’s a dedication.”

 

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine September 2017

Posted in 5 algarvy things.