GAINING ADDED benefits from the value chain connected to goat farming is easy.
A primary product that falls along the value-added chain, and also deemed a highly profitable spillover from raising goats, is the making of goat cheese. The product has been made for thousands of years, and was probably one of the earliest-made dairy products.
In the simplest form, goat cheese is made by allowing raw milk to naturally curdle, and then draining and pressing the curds. Other techniques use an acid (such as vinegar or lemon juice) or rennet to coagulate the milk.
Soft goat cheeses are made in kitchens all over the world, with cooks hanging bundles of cheesecloth filled with curds in the warm kitchen for several days to drain and cure.
If the cheese is to be aged, it is often brined so it will form a rind, and then stored in a cool cheese cave for several months to cure.
Because goat cheese is often made in areas where refrigeration is limited, aged goat cheeses are often heavily treated with salt to prevent decay. As a result, salt has become associated with the flavour of goat cheese, especially in the case of the heavily brined feta.
What you need to know
If you are one of the many goat farmers who have decided to capitalise on the benefits to be had from producing goat cheese, there are some things you need to know.
Remember that the taste of the cheese is determined by the quality of the milk of the goat milk you use.
The milk has to be fresh and sweet-tasting without off flavour - if the milk has a pleasant taste, so will the cheese.
You must remember that the animals to be milked have to be healthy and not on medication.
You must remember that if the goats that are used are on antibiotics, this will destroy necessary bacterial activity necessary during cheese-making.
It is important to note what is the breakdown of nutritional value of goat milk - even as you prepare to make cheese from the resource.
Goat milk contains the following nutrients:
water: 88 per cent
fat: 3-5 per cent
protein: 3 point 1-3 per cent
lactose: 4 point 5-5 per cent
minerals: point 8-zero per cent
These figures may vary depending on the breed, the time of the year, the type of feed and pasture.
These factors are crucial to note as cheese-making techniques have to be developed accordingly.
The main goal in cheese-making is to remove most of the water contained in the milk and retain a majority of the protein and fat.
To be continued.
- Contributed by the communications unit at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority