(L to R) John Hillman; According to Hillman, each goat has its own unique personality. They are known to be affectionate, silly and even jealous.
Goat cheese has a long global history; As early as 5000 BC, humans were consuming goat milk in some form. Now, Western North Carolina, a region inhabited by salt-of-the-earth farming communities, is so full of creameries that torophiles can follow the WNC Cheese Trail on a journey to sample some of the best artisanal cheeses. in the south.
One of the first stops on this route is Round Mountain Creamery, just over thirty minutes from downtown Asheville. June Hillman has been with the creamery for just over five years, and has worked in almost every position there. “I started out as a ‘pusher,’ which meant I would feed the goats while someone else milked them. Over the years, I began learning everything from milking and caring for goats to pasteurizing cheese and helping with live births,” Hillman recalls.
Cheese making is a daily labor of love. Every day, there’s something to do in the cheese room, from pasteurization to packaging, Hellman explains. After collecting the appropriate amount of goat milk in a refrigerated container, manufacturers begin the pasteurization process. “Pasteurization kills any bad bacteria in the milk,” she explains. Manufacturers then mix bacterial cultures, calcium chloride (to stabilize the cheese and help it coagulate), and rennet, which coagulates the mixture. After the mixture has sat for a while, creamers transfer the mixture to a hanging cloth, where gravity separates the solid curd from the liquid whey. On the final day, manufacturers remove the curds and begin adding flavors to create the final packaged product.
What makes high quality goat cheese? The answer isn’t something that’s always on the label or package. “The diet and health of the goat are the best indicators of how it will ultimately taste,” Hillman explains. Goat cheese usually has a unique tart and earthy flavour. Goats that have the opportunity to eat a lot of grass will produce more milk with a stronger flavor, and decreased milk production can indicate a nutrient deficiency in the animals.
Owner Linda Seligman bought the farmland in the 1990s, but didn’t set up the creamery until 2002 — with just five goats to supply the dairy. “Treating animals with kindness is her big mission. “She started storing all the goats she could so she knew they were all taken care of,” Hillman explains with a smile. “We try to prioritize keeping (the goats) happy and healthy. We do this by not milking them for as long as possible. Typically, goats are milked for about 305 days, but at Round Mountain, that is cut off at nine months.
Goats typically live about fifteen years, and Round Mountain goats have a strict regimen to ensure their senior breeders enjoy their retirement. Retirees are given the opportunity to hang out with their herd on the farm, drive home, or work as a “goat mower,” by grazing on large swaths of grass as an alternative to traditional mowing, a fad that has become popular in local communities.
Round mountain cream
2203 Old Fort Road, Black Mountain
(Tags for translation)North Carolina