In this latest heat wave, goat cheese has become my cold compress. No, I don’t apply blocks of it to my forehead, but I do find it cooling – one glance at this icy white goat’s milk cheddar from Mount Sterling and my core temperature drops. I begin to hallucinate snow in the air, mountain goats bleating in the distance.
Really, I’m just happy to discover a new raw-milk cheese, one that’s made from goat’s milk no less. Raw-milk goat cheese is hard to come by. That’s because most goat cheese on the market is fresh – think of those crumbly, spreadable logs. Fresh goat cheese is always pasteurized because it’s only a few days old and American law requires that raw-milk cheese be aged sixty days or more. Mount Sterling, a producer-owned cooperative based in Wisconsin, is one of just a few creameries that make a variety of aged raw-milk goat cheeses.
I’m partial to this mild goat cheddar because it’s versatile and mellow – grate it into scrambled eggs, serve it alongside berries or peaches. It makes for a good hot-weather appetizer, especially in the company of a wheat beer. Citrusy notes often pair well with goat cheese. That’s because goat cheese has more acidity than cow’s milk cheese. Some people find this acidity off-putting, but Mount Sterling’s cheddar is exceptionally balanced -- it’s not the least bit goaty or sour, just smooth with gentle nutty notes. A good choice for children and the goat-cheese averse.
Mount Sterling Cooperative has produced goat cheese for 30 years, but it’s only gained national recognition in recent years. In 2009, the company’s cave-aged cheddar (Sterling Reserve) won gold at the Los Angeles International Dairy Competition. Their Country Jack and whey-cream goat butter have also gained attention.
Even if you’re not a goat-cheese lover, you just might have a conversion experience. Blame it on the hot weather.