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Author Topic: The Many Uses of Goat Milk:  (Read 1020 times)
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« on: July 08, 2010, 11:27:38 AM »

The Many Uses of Goat Milk

By Shelene Costello 

I love to show my dairy goats, and in order to do so, I tend to keep a few more than I would if I had the goats just for the home milk supply. Since I have not pursued selling milk to customers, it means I have lots of milk to find ways to use around the farm. I make cheese, butter, ice cream, smoothies and more, and I use the whey from the cheese in baking, as well as giving extra whey and milk to the livestock guardian dogs, the cats and the poultry to supplement their diets. It's amazing how many ways I can find to use the milk, and I'm hearing more ideas from others all the time.

Milk makes a good base for soups, and it can be substituted for the liquid in most baking and cooking. I remove a bit of the other fats or oils from baking when using milk, especially when using the high butterfat Nigerian milk. I also use whey from cheesemaking in the soups and baking, as well as feeding it back to other animals on the farm. Bread made with whey or milk in the recipe makes for a heartier version that is quite nutritious and good tasting.

A simple refreshing drink can be made by flavoring the milk. My nieces love their fresh goat milk with a dash of vanilla and a spoonful of sugar or honey. Several of my nieces and nephews love chocolate milk, as do I, whether made with a commercial flavoring or with melted real chocolate. Hot, or cold from the fridge, or warm and fresh from the goat, flavored milks are a hit with the kids and adults. I have to admit, many a morning I have carried out a glass with chocolate in it, to milk a goat directly into that glass for warm chocolate milk for breakfast.

Fresh juices mixed with milk make good-tasting drinks. Carrot and orange juice are the two I've tried and liked. A quick smoothie in the blender can be made by using milk and whatever fruits, berries or melons, fresh or frozen, are at hand. This is a nice morning drink or in the heat of the day.

My family makes a quick soft-serve ice cream in the blender. Fresh goat milk, frozen berries or fruit, a bit of sweetener, and a dash of vanilla. Blend to a thick, almost shake consistency, and it's ready to eat. Any ice cream recipe for the homemade ice cream freezers can be adapted with goat milk and goat cream to make wonderful harder ice creams.

There are several quick and easier cheeses to make with fresh milk, which I've made plenty of. The simple vinegar or acid cheese, chévre made with cultures, mozzarella, and feta are just a few. These simple cheeses are easy to incorporate into other recipes such as manicotti, lasagna (made with goat meat as well) and more. Amazing how many things one can find to stick that luscious goat cheese into.

Then there are the aged cheeses like cheddar and parmesans. I haven't tried those yet, but they are on my list of things to try. I've talked to a few others with dairy animals who are making aged cheeses, and they love them. They're a bit tricky to make until one gets the hang of it, but so worth it they tell me. It's going to require a dedicated area to age the cheeses, so I'm on the lookout for a small fridge that can be set to a moderate temperature and kept at the proper moisture for a cheese cave.

Quite a few of my friends make kefir with the kefir grains, regularly. The grains multiply when growing in the milk. Some drink it the way it grows, others flavor it with various fruity flavors to vary it from day to day. There is a culture that can be bought to make kefir, but it's not self-perpetuating like the kefir grains are.

Yogurt made with goat milk is a bit different than typical store-bought yogurt with cow milk, in my experiences. I've found it to be a bit thinner and runnier, but very tasty and takes flavorings very well. (Ed. note: Add powdered milk to yogurt to thicken it.) After making yogurt, it can be drained through cheesecloth to make yet another soft cheese that is quite versatile.

I skim off cream from the milk regularly, and put it in the freezer in a container until I get enough to make a batch of butter. It's easy to do low-tech, by putting room-temperature cream in a canning jar, put the lid on tightly and roll under the foot while rocking and doing something else, like watching movies, reading or working on the computer. It's also a good job for children to burn off a bit of energy to have them take turns shaking the jar until it begins to make thumping noises from the clumps of butter. They often enjoy watching their butter miraculously come to life in that jar of cream.

Butter can also be made in the blender or mixer without the physical effort of a human, which is nice, the older I get. My sister and many of my friends make soaps and lotions out of goat milk as well. These are very moisturizing products for the skin.

The longer I raise dairy goats, the more ways I find to use up all the wonderful milk my goats produce. It's just one more way we try to make our homestead pay its own way, and we reap the rewards of our chosen lifestyle. When I am looking for goat milk recipes or new ideas to try, I often turn to some books like the following: Goat's Produce Too, by Mary Jane Toth; Cheese Making Made Easy, by Rikki Carroll (available from the Dairy Goat Journal Bookstore); or The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette Baracli de Levy. (This last one has some recipes for curdling the milk with herbs.)

There are a number of great sources for cheesemaking supplies; one of the best I've heard of is New England Cheesemaking. They seem to carry any and everything needed to make cheese of any kind and are a wonderful source of information. There are sites on the Internet that discuss cheesemaking as well, where cheesemakers share ideas and help.

Simple Quick Soft-Serve Ice Cream

Fresh goat milk
Frozen milk cubes (goat milk frozen in ice cube trays and saved for ice cream making)
Fresh or frozen fruit of choice
Sweetener of choice (sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, Splenda)
Real vanilla

Add enough frozen milk cubes to fill 1/3 of the blender, add another 1/3 of fruit, pour in milk to cover and add sweetener to taste along with a dash of vanilla. Blend to a soft serve or milkshake consistency and enjoy!

Vinegar, or Acidic Cheese

2 gallons goat milk
1/2 cup or more vinegar or lemon juice

Heat milk to at least 100°F (most recipes call for up to 185°F, and you can do that if you choose) in a stainless steel pot. Add vinegar or lemon juice until the milk begins to curdle, approximately 1/2 cup for 2 gallons of milk. Once the milk begins to curdle, stir well, and cover and let sit with no heat under it for an hour or more.

Then ladle cheese curds into a lined colander (cheese cloth, new diaper material, pillow case linen, or layers of good-quality paper towels) and let drain over another pan to catch the whey. You can stop draining while soft and creamy for a soft spreadable cheese, or drain longer for a drier, crumbly cheese.

Mix in sea salt to taste (approximately 1 teaspoon) and whichever seasonings you choose. Dill, green onion, garlic and herbs—the choices are limitless.

Chill and enjoy on breads, crackers, salads, in pasta dishes like Manicotti and more.

Fried Cheese Sticks

Make cheese above, mold the cheese after draining fairly dry into carrot-stick shapes or into a rectangular box lined with parchment paper. Cut into strips and freeze individually on cookie sheets. Take from freezer and batter with your choice of batters, then fry quickly in hot oil.

Homemade Cheese "Ravioli"

Fresh goat cheese (chévre, vinegar cheese, mozzarella or other soft cheese)
Wonton skins (sold in grocers for oriental wontons)

Keep a wet towel over the wonton skins while working to keep them soft and pliable so they won't crack.

Fill each skin with a dab of cheese, (I find that frozen cheese works best, as it doesn't melt clear out of the ravioli), fold over and seal the edges with egg whites brushed on the seams. Bake, boil or fry the raviolis and serve them with a good red tomato sauce of your choice.

Manicotti with Goat Cheese

Manicotti shells
Fresh goat cheese (chévre, vinegar cheese)
Mozzarella (goat, of course!)
A good red sauce, marinara, garlic or other sauce of your choice
One egg

I use a cheese that is flavored with dill, oregano or an Italian blend of flavorings.

Mix mozzarella cheese, soft cheese, and egg together in a bowl.

In a 9 x 13 inch pan, pour a small layer of sauce in the bottom, fill each manicotti noodle with cheese mixture, and lay them in the pan, pour sauce over the entire set of noodles, cover and bake at 350°F until shells begin to soften well. Uncover and add more cheese to the top and bake until it melts well.

Serve hot with a good salad and fresh bread.

Tip: making the sauce with a bit more liquid than usual really helps the noodles soften well.
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2010, 11:31:43 AM »

Human Health Improves
with Goat Milk Consumption
Australian Family Even Experienced Improved Dental Checks

By Tim King 

Improved dental health is among the many health benefits of drinking goat milk. Goat milk improved the health of the teeth, skin, and the digestion of Vanessa Grant's children in Tasmania, Australia. The positive effect on one child's digestion was dramatic.

"Our fifth child didn't nurse well and ended up on formula," said Grant. "However she also was allergic to all the formulas—including the commercial goat formula. Reading the back of the tin I was rather disgusted to see how processed it was. It didn't contain ‘whole goat milk,' but ‘protein derived from goat milk' and other things including canola oil. But it was the only brand of goat formula available."

"In the meantime, the baby, who was seven months old, was full of mucus through all her airways," Grant said. "She was coughing and vomiting after feeds. She was a really sick, sick baby. The naturopath took one look at her and said, ‘Her food is making her sick. Get her on raw goat milk.'"

"Because we had had our own goats before, and knew how good goat milk was, we were quick to take his advice. We found a source of raw goat milk. The baby was well within a week, and after that she was a healthy baby with no mucus, coughing, or vomiting at all."

The Grant family children had equally dramatic results regarding their dental health when they had goat milk available.

"We could only get the raw milk for the baby at that time, not for our other children," Grant said. "They had to be content with normal milk. By then there were no obvious intolerances, so they drank normal milk. After two years of this, one child developed terrible cavities, and later an abscess resulting in about three separate dentist visits and an extraction! It was a while before we could get back onto raw milk. He was having gum and tooth troubles all that time. But we finally went back on raw goat milk, and he had no tooth problems after that."

The Grant family moved a number of times while the children were young and growing. Like many people, they have not always been able to have a goat or to find goat milk. But before her younger son developed the severe dental problems she described, she had also witnessed the positive effects of goat milk on her older children's teeth.

"After two years on this (raw goat) milk we had a dental nurse appointment for the four children. The dental nurse was very excited by the condition of our children's teeth," Grant said. "She just couldn't get enough of saying how amazing they were, with no cavities in any of the four. She insisted we must be very good with tooth brushing. We aren't really all that good at remembering all the time. She also thought that we must be really strict about no sweets. But that's not true either. We had sweets sometimes, the same as anyone else!"

Grant admits she can't actually prove that her children's dental health is related to drinking goat milk. But she witnessed a very clear connection between acute dental distress without raw goat milk and dramatic improvement once the raw milk regime was started again. She also witnessed long-term dental health in her children during the periods that her family had access to raw goat milk.

When researching ways to respond to her children's allergic reaction to some foods, Grant said she discovered that goat milk contains fluorine. She doesn't recall where she found that information but suspects fluorine might have something to do with halting her child's acute dental problems.

Health writer Julie Phillips concurred, saying that goat milk is one of the best sources of dietary fluorine, nearly 10-times higher than cow milk. Fluorine helps build immunity and strengthen teeth and bones. Fluorine is depleted during the cooking process, so is only present in unpasteurized milk. The chemical "fluoride" does not have the same healing properties and is best avoided wherever possible.

Research on the website also revealed that "chlorine and fluorine are natural germicides and fluorine assists in preventing diabetes."

However, fluorine isn't the only ingredient in goat milk that has the potential for improving dental health.

"Most adults never get the daily recommended amount of calcium, 1,300mg, unless they are taking supplements, which are not good for you anyway," said Stephanie Bugielski, of M & S Farm in New York state. "You would need to eat an extraordinary amount of greens in one day to get the amount of calcium a body needs, or you can add goat milk to your diet. Especially raw goat milk. It is easy to digest and full of healthy living enzymes that help you assimilate calcium. In other words your body can use it. Once the milk is pasteurized the enzymes are killed off, and you are left with a useless drink."

Bugielski, who milks a dozen goats at her farm in the Catskills, sells a lot of raw milk to customers who drive an hour or more to obtain it. She, and her customers, believe that dental health is part of an entire package of benefits derived from drinking goat milk. "Goat milk provides 13% more calcium, 25% more Vitamin B-6, 47% more Vitamin A, 134% more potassium and 350% more niacin than cow milk," she said, "Goat milk is also higher in chloride, copper and manganese."

Vanessa Grant believes that young children who drink goat milk, with all its nutrients, may continue to reap the benefits of it when they are older, even if they are no longer drinking it.

"It seems that the more goat milk they had from an earlier age the healthier they were in general," she said. "The poor lad who had commercial formula from seven months had multiple intolerances and remains the most sensitive of our children now, whereas the ones who had raw goat milk from weaning are either totally fine, or very mildly reactive to very large quantities."

"We now live and work on a regular (bovine) dairy farm, and our children all now tolerate raw cow milk," Grant said. "I do find that we still have a few issues with pasteurized cow milk, and I instantly get a strong reaction to ultrapastuerized/UHT milk."

She said that her family had grown to a stage where they didn't need goat milk to survive anymore, but if they had very young children again, she would definitely make sure they had access to it.

"It seems that when our children were very young they tolerated goat milk more than cow milk," she said. "It is very beneficial for them, in so many ways."
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2011, 03:19:09 PM »

Make Your Own Cheese

By Rona Sullivan 

I think you can utilize these ideas and principles whether you are making cheese for your family, or striving for a commercial operation.

Start simple
Even when you start with the easiest, most basic recipes, it's important to keep your standards high. Practice consistency in taste and texture, making the best cheese you can, before moving on to more complex cheeses. Some cheesemakers spend all their time on taste and forget, or don't realize, the importance of texture. For me, raw milk cheese texture is consistently smoother, but whether you're using raw milk or pasteurized, be very gentle with the milk and curd. Gentle handling is an important component to good texture.

Don't forget appearance. It may be the last step, but it is as important as your consistency in taste and texture. Whether it's on your dinner table or in its package at the farmers market, a "pleasing appearance" makes tasting your cheese a more "pleasing experience." Attractive cheese also sells better.

Natural garnishes are often easily acquired, and sometimes they are even free from your own kitchen garden, or your neighbor's. We don't use any chemicals on the garden here, so we don't have to worry about using our own edible herbs and flowers.

They do need to be washed, and if you are planning to make commercial goat cheese, you will have to check with the Department of Agriculture in your state for any additional requirements. They may require you to use standardized herbs. I have chosen to use only standardized herbs in and on my cheese. I do use my own clean garnishes to decorate around my cheese samples, on the outside of packages, or creatively arranged in a vase or on the farmers market table.

What's in a name?
Name your own cheese. Set yourself apart, and above. Why copy European cheese recipes exactly, and re-use the names given them according to their origin? Some of those names are being reclaimed anyway; like Greek Feta.

Do some research on your family or the area in which you live, or the place where you were born. Besides the fact that it's a pleasurable pastime, you should be willing to go the extra mile if you're serious about commercial artisanal cheesemaking. Your knowledge will be obvious and will garner immediate respect from foodies, cheesemongers, customers, and cheesemakers "in the know." It also makes your older relatives feel valued and cherished. Is there some special family legacy that you can help perpetuate? How about a heritage food practice that you can help revive, or maybe even save from oblivion. Do you know, or could you find the place where some of your earliest ancestors entered and settled in America? Maybe your relatives remember something you could highlight about your family's country or countries of origin relating to the use of milk, or making of cheese.

Many American artisanal cheesemaker's have taken an "old world" idea, and placed their own creative, original twist and name on their cheese. Please respect our names, and don't adopt them either! (My Bonnyclabber is one example, as it was not originally a cheese name, but a term for clabbered milk in the Blue Ridge Mountains where I was born. Besides using the name "Bonnyclabber Cheese Company," I am working on "Bonnyclabber" as a registered trademark.) Americans are smart enough to know whether they like, and recognize your cheese, without your naming them for say, Cheddar, England, or Roquefort, France!

Thrift stores, yard sales, library sales, and family members are good places to look for books with old cheese recipes. I like the old church, school, or neighborhood recipe books. Even one recipe per book related to your family of origin, or the area in which you live is a treasure!

Cheese that
When I think of making cheeses that would please everyone, I can't help but admonish you with Ricky Nelson's "Garden Party" lyrics. "You see, you can't please everyone, so ya' got to please yourself." Go ahead and concentrate on making cheese that pleases you. Besides, you may be the only person there during the "make" process! Cheesemaking can be boring and labor intensive with long hours on your feet. It's even more so if you are doing farmstead cheese, or working with large quantities of milk or curd. So make cheese that you like, and find out what would keep you engaged and interested.

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't expand your own cheese palate. Many of us Americans are too accustomed to bland, standardized cheeses. Don't be afraid to go around to cheese shops and taste samples of goat cheeses made from raw and pasteurized milks, from mild to strong, soft to hard, and American as well as imported. Try to take any available tasting opportunities that will include pairings with wine, fruit, good breads, chocolate, etc. What accompanies a cheese can vary your taste experience greatly. There are some very inexpensive short courses that might even be available in your area.

Some basic recipes
Please remember to check with your Department of Agriculture if you are planning to use any version of these recipes commercially. If you use raw milk, most likely you will have to age the cheeses for at least 60 days. Some states will not allow you to sell cheese in olive oil, especially if you use herbs from your garden, because of the Listeria or botulinum contamination possibilities. Most of these recipes are for family use as fresh cheese just to give you a feel for cheesemaking if you're a newbie, or something to tweak if you're experienced.

Make your own yogurt

This works with fresh, raw milk, or store bought milk.

You'll need a large casserole dish or stainless pot, milk, and some yogurt to use as your starter. (Note: Make sure the yogurt you use has live culture.)

The ratio of yogurt to milk is roughly 1:5 (1 part yogurt: 5 parts milk). Pour the milk into a large bowl. Add yogurt and mix very well. Then pour gently into a large casserole dish placed in a pan of water, or directly into a stainless pot that will fit inside your oven. Bring the milk and yogurt mix to a temperature just under that which you could not comfortably touch. That should not be above 110ºF. Too hot and you will destroy the live cultures that are going to form your curd. Take it off the heat, wrap in a large towel, and place in a cold oven overnight, or for eight hours undisturbed. That works year-round unless your home is too cool in winter. If so, put the towel-wrapped casserole dish in a large cooler with a closed lid. Otherwise, it could be placed near a not-too-hot woodstove for the night, or some warm place where it will be undisturbed. I find that on top of a refrigerator is also a good place, as refrigerators do put off a little heat. The "undisturbed" part of the equation is very important. Antsy people like myself have to learn the hard way, after ruining batches by checking too often before the eight hours are up!

If the yogurt is not thick enough to please you, you don't have to add gelatin or powdered milk, but could try leaving the mix undisturbed a few more hours. Or, you could try draining it in a close-weave cloth placed in a colander (cheesecloth weave is too loose for a weak yogurt), until it's got the texture you like.

There is a choice of acid starters: strained fresh lemon or lime juice, a citric acid solution, white vinegar, yogurt, cultured buttermilk, or a naturally soured whey from a previous batch. The whey dripping from a batch of hung yogurt cheese makes an excellent starter. Each type of reagent gives a different body, texture, and flavor nuance to the fresh curd.

Temperatures and handling vary from person to person, so use these recipes only as a guide. If you experiment enough, you will find your own comfort level. Write your changes into the recipe if that helps you remember. Over time, if you have made one or more alterations, you can re-name the recipe as your own!

Acid-Coagulated Soft Cheese

(This is another non-rennet method.)

This soft cheese can be made with vinegar, or lime or lemon juice. I just don't prefer the texture and the unpredictable results with cheese made this way. I find it to be grainy, but just try it for yourself to determine what you think.

1 gallon of fresh strained goat milk
1/4 cup vinegar, or lime or lemon juice.

With frequent stirring, heat milk to a boil, which should be about 230ºF. Add vinegar, lime or lemon juice, and stir briefly. Wait 10 minutes and strain through a cheesecloth-lined colander, or hang to drip making sure you save the protein-rich whey. (In a later series, I will give you some of my favorite recipes for using the whey. Freeze the whey in clean, empty yogurt containers or small zip-lock bags for later use. In the meantime, you can search the Internet to find some recipes using whey.)

Yogurt cheese ideas from the Middle East and Greece

Use yogurt that you have made, or plain yogurt from the grocery store, drain it in cheesecloth or a coffee filter, and then try the following:

Lebna (Yogurt Cheese)

4 cups goat yogurt
2-1/2 teaspoons salt

Mix salt and yogurt.

Place in a porous, clean dishtowel or cheesecloth.

Pull up ends and tie.

Hang over a bowl overnight or 24 hours.

Store in cloth or paper in the refrigerator.

Use plain on toast for breakfast, with fruit or honey, or add various spices and use as a spread.

Labnah Makhbus (Yogurt Cheese Balls in Olive Oil)

Use the preceding Lebna recipe. If you want to spice it up, mix Lebna with the herbs or spices of your choice; such as parsley, oregano, black pepper, hot pepper, paprika, garlic, etc. Form labnah into small balls-smaller than golf balls. Labnah can be rolled in spices, as well. Store covered in olive oil in glass jars and use as spreads or in dips.

Note: All versions of spelling lebna are correct.

Quick and Easy Buttermilk Cheese

Yield: Approximately 2 cups

2 quarts of buttermilk

(You can buy it from the store, or better yet, use your own if you have buttermilk left after making butter.)

Put the 2 quarts of buttermilk in a large covered ovenproof casserole. Place in a preheated 305ºF oven for 15 to 20 minutes. It will separate into curds and whey.

Pour the warm liquid into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Tie ends of cheesecloth and let drain for several hours over the faucet of the sink with a bowl underneath to catch the whey. Or, put a colander on top of a tall bowl or pot, with a plate or bowl on top of the knot-tied cheese.

Save the whey, which can be used to replace sour milk, buttermilk, and sometimes water or milk in baking. For a firmer cheese, squeeze out most of the liquid.

Wrap well in cloth and refrigerate, keeping in mind that the fridge will dry this cheese a little every day. You can use that to control the texture that you want.

This cheese can be used for blintzes, in any recipe calling for cottage cheese, or spread it on a bagel for a lower fat alternative to cream cheese.

Goat Milk Hard Cheese

Heat sweet, whole goat milk in a pan to 86-88ºF.

Add 10% by volume, otherwise one part to 10 parts, of yogurt or buttermilk with live cultures. Make sure the yogurt or buttermilk ingredients list active or live cultures which will act as the "starter." Stir for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add rennet at the rate of 25 drops to each gallon of milk, by first diluting the rennet in 1/2 cup of clean tap water, or distilled water.

Stir the mixture into the 86-88ºF milk, and then allow the curd to set for about 30 minutes.

Curd is ready when it breaks clean over a finger inserted into the curd at an angle and lifted slowly.

Cut curd into 1-inch vertical squares. The curd is then cut into cubes by cutting horizontally with a stiff bent wire or long knife. Curd particles should be uniformly cube-shaped to allow for even heating.

Slowly raise the curd temperature to 98-100ºF in about an hour. Stir the curd gently and slowly with a spatula to keep the curd from breaking. During the entire heating period, stir the curd frequently enough to maintain an even temperature and to prevent scorching.

When the curd is firm enough, it has a tendency to stick together. At this time, pour the curd into a muslin cloth or bag and form it into a ball. Allow the ball to hang until all free whey has dripped away-about two to three hours. After draining, remove the cloth from the curd ball, and place the ball on a cheesecloth folded over three or four times.

Fold a long cloth, about the size of a dish-towel, into a bandage about three inches wide and wrap it tightly around the ball of curd. Pin the band in place. Work the top of the ball with your hands until it is perfectly smooth with no cracks.

Lay a piece of wet cloth over the top of the cheese; place a flat plate over the cloth and weight the plate with a flat iron or a brick. If the weight falls to one side, the cheese will be uneven. To avoid this, make a simple cheese press by sandwiching the cheese between two pieces of clean board or metal pans. The round wheels of cheese should not be more than six inches in diameter. Otherwise there will be a tendency for the cheese to dry too quickly. At night turn the cheese over and replace the weight. Allow the cheese to press until the morning.

Remove cloths from the cheese and place in a cool place, turning twice daily for three days or until a rind forms.

Rub a tablespoon of salt on the rind once a day for two days. After salting, rub the cheese with a small amount of olive oil for two days, or daily until the rind is very firm. After this, it should be necessary to rub the cheese only about twice a week to prevent drying and restrict mold growth. The cheese should be ready to eat in about eight weeks.
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2012, 12:26:23 AM »

Fish Oil Makes
Goat Cheese Healthier

By Alan Harman

Fish oil can be added to goat cheese to deliver high levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids without compromising taste or shelf life, University of Maine food scientists report.
A study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists, showed that fish oil delivers higher levels and more balanced proportions of omega-3 fatty acids compared to other sources such as flax and algal oil.
Fish oil oxidizes more quickly, making food fortification a challenge. Given the cost of purified fish oil, maximizing its incorporation efficiency is critical to the commercial viability of fortified cheese.
The Maine researchers said dairy has been shown to be a good matrix for fish oil fortification because it is commonly consumed and has unique properties that seem to protect fish oil.
Soft goat cheese has lower fat than other cheeses making it appealing for those looking for healthy flavorful food choices.
In the latest research, goat cheese was successfully fortified to deliver 127 mg omega-3 fatty acids per 28 g serving without affecting shelf life or consumer purchase intent.
There is a growing body of evidence that omega-3 fatty acids from fish, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are not only beneficial for general health and well-being, but also play a vital role in preventing chronic diseases.
EPA and DHA have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in type II diabetics, lower blood pressure, and improve arterial elasticity in patients at risk for cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to minimize the effects of stroke, improve cognition in the elderly, alleviate symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, and reduce risk for osteoporosis.
Omega-3 fatty acid fortification is one of the fastest growing trends in the food industry with 42% of consumers making efforts to eat more omega-3 fatty acid rich foods.
The most common problem related to fish oil fortification is the "fishy" odor that accompanies lipid oxidation of unstable polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the presence of light, oxygen, and heat.
Another challenge of fortifying foods with omega-3 PUFA is that the low levels of fish oil shown to maintain product acceptability require consumers to eat greater quantities of fortified foods to meet recommended levels of PUFA consumption.
Due to their natural emulsion state, dairy products, such as yogurt, butter, milk, and sour cream, have been shown to be an excellent matrix for fish oil fortification.
Although several studies have investigated cheese as a vehicle for fish oil fortification, fish oil fortified cheeses are not available in the U.S. market.
Fish oil fortified cheddar cheese was produced by researchers in 2009, but "fishy" odors were detected by a trained descriptive panel at the highest fortification level, limiting fortification to low levels.
Other researchers added fish oil to a variety of dairy products, including soft cheeses, but found the samples were unacceptable to a trained panel after four weeks of refrigerated storage.
These studies each incorporated the fish oil after the cheese curd had formed, which may have contributed to the early onset of "fishy" flavor detected by trained panels.
The Maine researchers incorporated different levels of purified, liquid fish oil to soft goat cheese prior to curd formation to maximize delivery of EPA and DHA per serving without negatively affecting oxidative stability or consumer acceptance.
Researchers Brianna Hughes, Brian Perkins, Beth Calder and Denise Skonberg fortified soft goat cheese with four levels of purified fish oil—0, 60, 80, and 100 g fish oil per 3,600 g goat milk—prior to curd formation to deliver high levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per serving.
The cheese was partially vacuum-packed and stored at 35.6°F for four weeks, then evaluated for composition, EPA and DHA content, oxidative stability, color, pH, and consumer acceptability.
The fat content was significantly higher in the fortified treatments compared to the control, but was not significantly different among fortified treatments.
EPA and DHA contents were not significantly different among fortified samples, averaging 127 mg EPA and DHA per 28 g serving.
No significant lipid oxidation was detected by thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) or hexanal and propanal headspace analyses over the four-week refrigerated shelf-life study for any treatments.
The fortified cheeses were all liked "moderately" by consumers for overall acceptability, although the 60 g fortification level did rate significantly higher.
The control cheese and the 60 g fortification level had no significant differences in consumer purchase intent.
The researchers said the results show that fortification levels of up to 127 mg EPA and DHA per serving may be added to soft cheese without negatively affecting shelf life or consumer purchase intent.
Despite minor visible loss of fish oil to the whey fraction, which was not quantified, there were no significant differences in yield between the control and the fortified samples suggesting the addition of fish oil did not affect curd formation.
Moisture and fat content did not differ significantly among fortified treatments, but the fortified treatments differed significantly from the control.
Moisture content averaged 62.7% for fortified treatments and 66.2% for the control.
"The 3.5% (percentage point) lower moisture content of the fortified treatments was inversely proportional to the increase in fat due to the addition of the fish oil," the researchers reported.
Fat content ranged from 15% to 19.5% and was significantly higher in fortified samples than the control sample (15%) indicating that the fish oil was incorporated into the curd.
However, oil incorporation was limited above the 60 g fortification level. Fortified treatments, while not significantly different in fat content, did increase from 17.9% (lowest fortification level) to 19.5% (highest fortification level). Improving homogenization efficiency and/or reducing curd formation time may increase oil incorporation above 60 g.
In a study in 2009, Cheddar cheese was fortified with encapsulated fish oil after processing and no significant differences in moisture or fat content between control and fortified samples were found.
In contrast, this goat cheese study showed significant differences between control and fortified cheese for both moisture and fat content suggesting greater incorporation of fish oil into the cheese curd than was seen in other fortified cheese studies.
The researchers said that it can be concluded from the fat content and EPA and DHA levels that the lowest level of fortification, 60 g of added fish oil, was the only level efficiently incorporated into the cheese.
This is enough to provide a high level (about 127 mg) of omega-3 fatty acids per serving. The researchers say the delivery of higher fortification levels requires further investigation to maximize incorporation of the oil into the curd.
The processing and packaging methods used in this project were sufficient to limit the oxidation of both the goat cheese (seen by the control) and the fish oil (seen by the fortified treatments).
"The lack of oxidation during four-weeks of storage is encouraging, and longer shelf life tests are warranted to determine when and if oxidative changes occur in the highly fortified goat cheese," the researchers report.
They said no differences in cheese color were observed during cheese processing or throughout the shelf life study. Initial cheese color did not change appreciably as the level of fish oil increased.
Cheese for the consumer acceptability study was prepared in the same manner as the cheese prepared for the analytical study and at the same fortification levels.
Consumer testing was conducted at the University of Maine's Consumer Testing Center with 105 untrained participants from the community.
The four samples were coded and randomized before being presented to participants with 5 g cheese samples on plain wheat crackers and participants were given a cup of water to cleanse their palates between samples.
A questionnaire asked participants to indicate how often they ate goat cheese, as well as to rate the appearance, color, aroma, flavor, creaminess, and overall acceptability of each sample using the Hedonic Scale, the most widely used measure of food acceptability with a nine-point range from dislike extremely to like extremely.
The participants' purchase intent for each sample was rated with a five-point hedonic scale from definitely won't buy to definitely will buy.
The scores among treatments for appearance, color, and aroma did not show any significant differences, indicating consumers found the fish oil fortified samples to be as acceptable as the control sample for these three attributes.
Appearance and color scores averaged 7.5, while aroma scores were slightly lower with an average of 6.9, equal to "like moderately."
The control sample rated significantly higher for creaminess, taste, and overall acceptability when compared to the fortified samples, which may be attributed to the higher fat content of the fortified samples.
Scores for taste were similar to those for creaminess, with the control sample having significantly higher acceptability (7.5) than the fortified samples that had scores ranging from 6.7 to 7. Overall acceptability of the control averaged 7.6, followed by the 60 g fish oil treatment with a score of 7.2.
The higher fortification treatments, 80 g and 100 g added fish oil, averaged a score of 7.0 for overall acceptability but were significantly lower than the 60 g fish oil treatment for overall acceptance.
The majority of comments made by consumer panelists were about the tangy, sharp, acid flavor of the goat cheese and the pleasant smoothness of the texture, although a small number of panelists perceived oiliness in the fortified cheese. This may have been due to the greater amount of fat in the cheese, and not specifically the addition of fish oil.
The researchers say textural attributes could be easily modified with gums or by slight adjustments to cheese processing methods.
There were only five comments from the 105 participants that mentioned "fishy" or "seafood" aromas, flavors, or aftertastes even with the fortification levels of about 127 mg EPA and DHA per serving.
Despite the statistically significant differences in overall acceptability of the goat cheese treatments, the hedonic values among treatments were close with an average acceptability in the "like moderately" range (6.5 to 7.5).
This level of acceptance of the fortified cheese is seen as promising considering that 40% of participants "never or rarely" eat goat cheese, which may have slightly depressed some values.
Improved scores could be attained by using only panelists who commonly consume goat cheese or by adding flavor compounds to the cheese such as herbs and spices.
Of the 105 respondents, 74% indicated they "might" or "definitely" would purchase the cheese with the lowest level of fortification (60 g fish oil).
Similar purchase intent was observed for the control, which indicates that despite significant differences between the two for overall acceptability, 60 g of added fish oil may be a marketable level for fortification.
This conclusion is further supported by results that demonstrated no significant differences among fortified treatments for proximate composition, oxidative stability, or EPA and DHA content.
"Excellent Source" labeling has been proposed for foods containing at least 20% of the proposed RDI of 160 mg EPA and DHA, or 32 mg, per serving. If approved, the fortified goat cheese would qualify for the "Excellent Source" claim as it provides 79% of the proposed RDI for EPA and DHA.
The researchers said soft goat cheese was successfully fortified with fish oil yielding a product that contained about 127 mg EPA and DHA per 28 g serving—nearly four times the level required to meet the proposed "Excellent Source" guidelines.
Proximate composition, color, pH, and yield were not negatively affected by fish oil fortification of the cheese. In addition to partial vacuum packaging, the addition of fish oil to goat cheese prior to curd formation may have contributed to the enhanced oxidative stability of the fish oil observed in this study.
No change in oxidative stability was seen during four weeks of refrigerated storage and there was negligible difference in consumer purchase intent between fish oil fortified goat cheese and the control cheese.
"These results have positive implications for high-level fish oil fortification of dairy products," the researchers' report stated. "Important directions for future research include assessing fish oil fortification pre- and post-processing of dairy products, determining the upper threshold of fish oil incorporation into soft curd cheeses, and conducting longer shelf life studies to demonstrate commercial feasibility of fish oil fortified cheese."
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