Health and Nutrition
GOAT'S MILK AND CHEESE
GOOD QUALITY GOAT'S MILK HAS A VERY PLEASANT TASTE, SLIGHTLY SWEET AND LIGHTLY SALTED
Goat's milk has some special very positive characteristics that distinguish it from cow's milk and sheep's milk.
- Lower fat content
- Greater calcium content
- Easier to digest
- Lower calorific value
- Good for people who are lactose intolerant.
On this last point, we would add that even those who are lactose intolerant are sometimes able to tolerate goat cheese. The same cannot be said for cheeses made from cow's milk, which are harder to digest. The lactose levels are similar, but the fat molecules in goat's cheese are smaller, making them easier to digest.
Unlike cow's milk, it is not necessary to homogenize goat's milk: while the fat globules in cow's milk tend to separate to the surface, the globules in goat's milk are considerably smaller and remain suspended in the solution.
Consumer habits are based on the widespread preference for cow's milk instead of goat's milk. This is due, on the one hand, to the traditional consumption of cow's milk, but also to the existence of preconceived ideas that burden goat's milk with characteristics that do not correspond to reality. Another preconception is associated with the easier transmission of diseases – brucellosis, for example – by ingesting goat's milk or cheese. Though this idea has some historical basis, it is totally misplaced in modern times, provided one chooses the origin of these products with discretion.
At Serra das Fragas, the livestock is selected according to the quality of the milk and the sanitary state of the farms. This is duly checked and certified by the relevant official entities. All products manufactured at Serra das Fragas come from the use of pasteurized milk.
What are the advantages of pasteurized milk?
It noticeably reduces the number of germs and bacteria and allows food to be preserved in appropriate conditions for a longer period of time.
Following the most stringent manufacturing standards, Serra das Fragas sells only products made from raw pasteurized materials. To this end, it has modern, automatic equipment that guarantees milk pasteurization according to rigorous standards.
Pasteurization is a process developed by the French scientist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895).
It involves subjecting a food product (milk, in our case) to a high temperature for a short period of time, followed by rapid cooling.
Can the cheese be frozen?
There are some types of cheese that can be frozen without losing their main qualities.
The low fat content of goat's cheese does not allow the main characteristics of flavour and texture to remain after thawing, resulting in a product that is uncharacteristic and of lesser quality.
Can I eat the rind of the cheese?
Yes, the rind of all Serra das Fragas cheeses is edible.
The rind of the cheese results from its hardening during the drying - maturing - process.
In traditional maturing, as used at Serra das Fragas, the rind is just cheese and, as it is clean, it can and should be eaten.
Wash the cheese in warm water before eating. Dry it well and enjoy the fullness of its flavour. Completely.
The industrialization of manufacturing processes means that some companies sell their cheeses more quickly so that, while they are on display to the customer, they always look their best, using a coating that, in many cases, is little more than a plastic film. Pay attention to the labelling of these products, as sometimes the warning that the rind is not edible is barely visible.
Cheeses with an edible rind are healthier, but they do require greater care in preservation. They tend to gain a layer of mould which, though it is natural, can be a little off-putting to consumers not used to it. Wrongly, as one might appreciate.
How does the region of production influence the flavour of the cheese?
As cheese is a product obtained by processing milk, its characteristics, and consequently those of all products resulting from its transformation, naturally depend directly and immediately on what the animals are fed.
This assumes greater importance when referring to free-range livestock - those raised in natural pastures.
It is easy to conclude that the natural fertility of the ecosystem and its seasons are necessarily crucial to the composition of milk and its behaviour as a raw material.
The natural diversity of the geographic distribution of the livestock, in correlation with the climatic conditions in different areas, is therefore a key factor in the characteristics of milk and, in this case, the cheeses obtained from it.
In intensive farming conditions, in which livestock is fed by the use of the rations, it is no longer seen as being so favourable.
Careful selection of the livestock and the maintenance conditions are key factors for obtaining quality cheese.
Should the flavour of the cheese always be the same?
Cheese is a natural product which depends on many factors: geographical, climatic, conservation and maintenance of livestock, storage and transport of milk, handling and processing conditions, among others.
There are therefore constraints that cannot always be controlled – the feeding of the livestock, for example – which cause a change in the flavour and texture: what the livestock eats in spring is very different from what is available in autumn. Therefore, the end product is inevitably different, giving it more personality.