Life Force and Cheese

Traditionally made cheese is a living, fermented, food; full of living microbes that are dynamically interacting and evolving. It has a life force.  

Holy Goat Cheese and Sutton Grange Organic FarmThe milk comes from amazing dairy animals – goats, sheep, cows, buffalo and others. They have a life force.

Our goats (and other dairy animals) produce all the ingredients we need to make cheese:

  • milk: with a beautiful variety of lactic acid bacteria which naturally ferments the sugars in milk (lactose) to preserve it and make it more digestible;
  • rennet: an enzyme in the stomachs of young animals which coagulates the protein (casein) in the mother’s milk so the young can digest it.

With these two ingredients – lactic acid and rennet – we ferment the lactose in milk and coagulate the protein. This produces curds which we drain and ripen to make cheese.

Dairy goats are more than milk machines. Our goats live in herds and have strong connections and friendships to each other and the people who milk and care for them. They live in landscapes, with sun and rain, pastures, hills, valleys, streams, seasons and people. These landscapes provide their food, sense of place, shelter, contentment, purpose, joy. These landscapes are a complex interacting life force.

Holy Goat Cheese and Sutton Grange Organic FarmThe milk our dairy herd produces reflects the wild diversity of microorganisms from their living landscape. The trees, the shrubs, the flowers, the water, the grass, the soil all contribute minerals, enzymes, esters, bacteria, fungi. Our goats convert feed (grass, leaves, weeds, bark, seeds, grain) and water into milk. Clean healthy milk is biologically alive, complete with protein, sugars, fats, minerals, lactic acid bacteria, yeasts and moulds.

Cheese is an amazing food; nutrient dense and an excellent source of protein, calcium, phosphorus and fat. It is a living food.

Cheese tastes like nothing else – rich, subtle, aromatic -it has sublime textures and even looks amazing. It carries the stories of the animals, the pasture, the landscape and the people who produce it.

Holy Goat Cheese and Sutton Grange Organic FarmCheese making is an art, a craft, a science, and also hard, rewarding work. As cheese makers we are part of an ancient craft that has been evolving for thousands of years. The role of the cheese maker is to befriend, honour and respect the life force of the cheese and humbly work to nurture the cheese to achieve it’s potential; to create the perfect cheese.

Throughout all of its life stages, from living fodder, to healthy dairy animals, to liquid milk, to cheese, microorganisms are active, evolving, interacting. Creating a life force.

#This is an excerpt from a presentation Carla made at the Australian Specialist Cheesemakers’ Association (ASCA) Cheese Fair, held during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.