A look at Kidding Season, aka why goat cheese tastes best right now.
Here’s a fun fact you likely already knew: animals only produce milk after they give birth to their young. It’s easy, however, to forget this plain fact of nature when we have a constant supply of fresh milk, cheese, and other dairy products. Thanks to modern technologies and human manipulation of animals’ natural cycles, we can conveniently partake in dairy year-round.
In seasonal dairying, animals give birth to their young in spring and begin producing milk to feed them. This resurgence in milk production comes after a dry period in which the animals do not produce milk. Goats, for example, have a ten-month lactation cycle, and milk production that begins in spring thus ceases in late fall or early winter. At this time, the goats also must move off pasture with the arrival of cold weather, and their milk quality changes with quality of their feed.
Now that it’s spring again, the goats have given birth and are once again making milk. And with all the goats in the herd, it is similar to a gallon of milk weight that is being produced at a time at least. This recommencement of milk production also corresponds to moving the goats to pasture. No longer wintering indoors and dining upon stored winter feed, these goats are now grazing on lush spring pastures which endow their milk with an array of vitamins, minerals, and other flavor compounds, thus yielding especially complex cheeses.
Some of the cheeses made from this milk are intended to age for several months, such as Consider Bardwell Farm’s Manchester. But for those of us in desperate need of instant gratification, there is fresh chèvre for us to enjoy right now.
Lucky for chèvre lovers, Murray’s has made great friends with Lorraine Lambiase and Sheila Flanagan, owners and operators of Nettle Meadow Farm in the Adirondacks. From the milk of their 300 goats, they make some of our favorite cheeses, including creamy, buttery Kunik. In the spring they handcraft fresh chèvres, some of which are so lovingly flavored, and all of which are pillowy, milky, tangy, lemony, and absolutely dreamy in your mouth. It’s best right now–so quick! Get yourself some fresh chèvre while it’s delicate, complex, and benefiting from the newness of spring growth.