Rich and creamy with a distinct tangy flavor, goat cheese is a versatile ingredient that adds a delightful zing to many dishes or can be enjoyed solely with a nice glass of wine.
Although some people may associate goat cheese with European countries like Greece and France, this silky curd concoction has a strong domestic manufacturing market, with several creameries located in Northeast Ohio.
Abbe Turner, a cheese-maker at Lucky Penny Creamery in Kent, said Ohio’s reasonable land cost and plentiful green spaces make it an ideal place for goat dairy farming.
Since starting Lucky Penny nearly two years ago, Turner said she has noticed a growing demand for goat cheese and goat cheese food products.
Goat cheese is a natural ingredient for creative salad and entree recipes, she said, and since goat cheese is lower in lactose content, it can be easier to digest that cow’s milk cheese.
Lucky Penny produces small, handmade goat cheese batches and is expecting to expand inventory in 2012, offering sheep milk cheese and additional goat cheese candy items, Turner said. The creamery also has retail hours Fridays and Saturdays.
At Ornery Goat Dairy in Edinburg Township, owner and cheese-maker Debby Durkee creates all products from her own goats.
“We raise all our animals and use only the milk that we produce. We know what the animals eat and what they produce in their milk,” Durkee said.
Ornery Goat’s products include plain goat cheese as well as flavored cheese such as garlic dill, chipotle and chive. The dairy’s Grade-A pasteurized goat’s milk eggnog – made with fresh eggs and spices – is also a favorite, especially around the holidays.
“I have people that get it and freeze it, so they can have it in July,” Durkee said.
Located within Cleveland’s city limits, Lake Erie Creamy literally takes the farm to the city, creating all of its goat cheese on-site at the small urban creamery.
“We live in Cleveland, and we’re really committed to see things come back in the city,” said Mariann Janosko, a Cleveland native and creamery co-owner with husband Gerald Onken.
Janosko said she also enjoys working with and supporting local Cleveland restaurants and businesses. Nearly 75 percent of Lake Erie Creamery’s customers are Cleveland-area restaurants and retail shops.
At Mackenzie Creamery in Hiram, owner and head cheese maker Jean Mackenzie is celebrating a recent appetizing accolade. The creamery received a third place prize in the “Fresh Goat Milk Cheese – Flavor Added” category at the 2011 American Cheese Society Cheese Competition in August in Montreal, Canada. Their cheeses – cognac fig and apricot ginger – each tied for the third-place award.
“People in the cheese industry call this (the American Cheese Society Cheese Competition) the Oscar’s of the cheese industry,” Mackenzie said.
Licensed in 2007, Mackenzie creamery began producing goat cheese in early 2008, and Mackenzie said her decision to begin a career in goat cheese creation has been one of the best decisions of her life.
“We’re just really having fun with it. It’s been the most amazing journey of my life,” she said.