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  • Writer's picturerindwash

On goat cheese ...

Far from being a recent trend, the domestication of goats and the use of its milk is thought to date back a little over 10,000 years ago in the Fertile crescent where many nomadic tribes settled, this boomerang-shaped region that extends from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf was until modern times a rich food-growing area which provided nomads with vast supplies of food for themselves and their goats and therefore a chance to settle down. Many different civilizations flourished in and from this small region, They first learnt about and crafted many of the foods we now eat and drink, spreading these practices as far as Poland where pierced vessels were used for draining curds as early as 7000 years ago.

Though there are some written records of the existence of cheese as an industry such as the Sumerians, the Hittites, these records are rather patchy and do not make light on how cheese may have been made.

There is no doubt that centuries later ( estimated date of events 1178BC ), Goat cheese had become an integral part of the Mediterranean culture, the Cyclops Polyphemus in Homer’s Odyssey had “milking pens for goats and big cheeses aging on racks”. Homer’s account of the Cyclop making cheese ( written around 800BC ) is rather precise and can not have been invented, it is far too similar to modern cheese making to have been romanced! Cheese making had then already reached quite a level of professionalism, Columella cheese making book is a clear example of this.

Pliny the Elder, Circa 77 AD, said in his Historia Naturalis that some “Herds of goats also have their special reputation for cheese”. While telling us that many cheeses from every corners of the Empire could be found in Rome, he quoted as well that “The cheese of the Gallic goats always had a strong medicinal taste” which seems to indicate the Gauls enjoyed their cheese very ripe.

2000 years later we are still learning…


Though the overall composition of goat milk is quite close to that of cow’s milk, a closer look at its composition is necessary to appreciate the differences between these milks.

Average goat’s milk composition (g/l) against cow’s and human

Constituents Goat Cow Human

Fat (g) 3.8 3.6 4.0

Protein (g) 3.5 3.3 1.2

Lactose (g) 4.1 4.6 6.9

Ash (g) 0.8 0.7 0.2

Total solids (g) 12.2 12.3 12.3

Calories (cal) 70 69 68


The nutritional value of goat protein is excellent, they contain all the amino acids essential to the body in adequate proportions. Goat’s milk yield sensibly less cheese than cow’s milk. Goat’s milk has low levels of alpha S1 casein protein ( mostly associated with Cow Milk Allergy ).

The allergenic mechanism is rather complex, intolerant or allergic individuals should seek medical advice.


Goat’s milk has sensibly smaller fat globules and is essentially homogenised which results in a quicker and easier digestion process. Goat’s milk lacks agglutinin which is why the cream does not split. Also, when the proteins found in milk denature (clump up) in the stomach, they form a much softer curd than cow’s milk which may as well encourage better digestion. Goat milk fat has significantly higher levels of short- and medium-chain-length fatty acids (MCT) (C4:0-C14:0) than

cow and human milks. This property has been utilized for treatment of a variety of fat

malabsorption problems in patients.


Goat’s milk isn’t much lower than cow’s milk (contains about 0.2 to 0.5% less than cow’s milk) and yet, countless lactose intolerant patients are able to thrive on goat’s milk. Although the answer for this is unclear, it has been hypothesized that since goat’s milk is digested and absorbed in a superior manner, there is no “leftover” lactose that remains undigested which causes the painful and uncomfortable effects of lactose intolerance.


Ca (mg) 134 122 33

P (mg) 141 119 43

Mg (mg) 16 12 4

K (mg) 181 152 55

Na (mg) 41 58 15

Cl (mg) 150 100 60

S (mg) 2.89 - -

Fe (mg) 0.07 0.08 0.20

Cu (mg) 0.05 0.06 0.06

Mn (mg) 0.032 0.02 0.07

Zn (mg) 0.56 0.53 0.38

I (mg) 0.022 0.021 0.007


Goat milk has a higher amount of vitamin A than cow milk. Caprine milk is whiter than

bovine milk because goats convert all β-carotene into vitamin A in the milk.

Goat milk, however, is deficient in folic acid and vitamin B12 compared to cow milk.

Cow milk has 5 times more folate and vitamin B12 than goat milk, and folate is

necessary for the synthesis of hemoglobin.

Goat milk and cow milk are equally

deficient in pyridoxine (B6) and vitamins C and D, and these vitamins must be

supplemented from other food sources.


Although goat milk is similar to cow milk in its basic composition, its contribution and that

of dairy goat products is greatly valued by those who have cow milk allergy and other nutritional

diseases. Goat milk has some unique differences in several important constituents and

physical parameters, including proteins, lipids, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, fat globule size,

which are significant in human nutrition.

Cheese making:

Goat cheese exhibits a wide variety of forms and flavours.

Goat cheese production constitutes merely 2% of the global cheese production, France is the leader in goat cheese making.

The majority of cheeses are soft lactic cheeses (85% of manufacturing ) fresh or refined, this is a slow natural process.

The remaining 15% are mixed both lactic and rennetted in varying proportions depending on the recipe, they are fresh or refined.

Within the goat cheese family the “ Chevre “ constitutes a family.

They are mostly lactic, with a minute quantity of rennet whenever used.

They come in many different shapes, pyramid, barrel, log, and are either white aged or coated in charcoal.


1. FAO Production Yearbook; FAO, United Nations 1988; 42, p. 241.

2. Park, Y. W. Nutrient profiles of commercial goat milk cheeses manufactured in the

United States. J. Dairy Sci. 1990, 73, p. 3059. [ pubmed ]

3. Haenlein, G. F. W. and Caccese, R. Goat Milk Versus Cow Milk. Extension Goat

Handbook; USDA Publ.: Washington, DC 1984; p. 1.—E-1

4. Jenness, R. Composition and characteristics of goat milk: Review 1968-1979. J. Dairy

Sci. 1980, 63, p. 1605.

5. Chandan, R. C., Attaie, R. and Shahani, K. M. Nutritional Aspects of Goat Milk and

Its Products; Proc. V. Intl. Conf. Goats 1992; II, p. 399.—New Delhi, India, Part II

6. Park, Y. W. Hypo-allergenic and therapeutic significance of goat milk. Small Rumin.

Res. 1994, 14, p. 151. [ crossref ]

7. Cerbulis, J., Parks, O. W. and Farrell, H. M. Composition and distribution of lipids of

goats milk. J. Dairy Sci. 1982, 65, p. 2301.

8. Jensen, R. G., Ferris, A. N., Lammi-Keefe, C. J. and Henderson, R. A. Lipids of

bovine and human milks: A comparison. J. Dairy Sci. 1990, 73, p. 223. [ pubmed ]

9. Ju rez, M. and Ramos, M. Physico-chemical characteristics of goat milk as distinct

from those of cow milk. Intl. Dairy Bull. 1986, 202, p. 54.

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