Okay, curd nerds. How many clothbound goat Cheddars can you name? Several producers make goat Cheddar in rindless blocks. But a wheel aged in cheesecloth so it can breathe and develop a rind, like a traditional cow’s-milk Cheddar? That’s a rare thing. Thanks to Quicke’s, the English Cheddar specialist, we can taste the magic that happens when experts apply classic Cheddar techniques to goat’s milk. Quicke’s Goat’s Milk Clothbound is irresistible.
Mary Quicke’s family has resided on the same parcel in Devon for 475 years. Mary is the fourteenth generation on the land, 1000 acres of grassland and pasture for dairy cows. Her clothbound cow’s-milk Cheddar is widely admired, and about 15 years ago, she began purchasing goat’s milk from a nearby dairy, just to try something different.
The recipe has required some adjustment because goat curd is more delicate. The starter culture is different—better suited to goat’s milk—and the curd is cut larger to keep more moisture in. Throughout the process, the cheese has to be handled more gingerly to minimize moisture loss and “keep it more luscious,” says Mary. “If you treat it like cow’s milk, the mouthfeel is chalky.”
Even so, the 60-pound wheels lose a lot of weight during six to eight months of aging. After six months, they’re down to 52 pounds. That’s eight pounds you can’t sell.
The rind is handsome, mottled with molds of many colors. The interior is a uniform ivory, not the butter color typical of traditional Cheddar. I love the aroma, a blend of pale caramel, sweet milk, candle wax and cave. There’s an herbaceous note and, on the palate, a sweet-salt dance that makes me want to keep eating. It has that waxy-creamy texture of the finest Cheddars and a saline finish.
Respecting European Union laws that define Cheddar as a cow’s-milk cheese, Quicke’s does not call this clothbound beauty a Cheddar. But most U.S. retailers will. Cheddar is a familiar term to consumers, who need a frame of reference.
Wisconsin’s Carr Valley makes the only other clothbound goat Cheddar I know, the delightful Snow White, available online. Avalanche Cheese in Colorado made a sublime one but, alas, the creamery closed about a year ago.
A dry cider makes a great match for Quicke’s Goat’s Milk Clothbound. Look for the cheese at these retailers . I’m told that availability will improve in late spring.