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What is Chevre?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Chevre is a generic term which denotes a cheese made from the milk of goats, with the word chevre meaning goat in French. This type of cheese can come in a wide range of forms, from soft farmer's cheeses to fully cured firm varieties. Chevre also runs the flavor gamut, with some retaining a characteristic goaty flavor while other chevres are much more mild and buttery.

One of the most common forms of chevre is a fresh cheese which resembles cream cheese. This tends to be slightly crumbly, creamy, and may have a strong goat flavor. Often soft versions are herbed or spiced, and may be decorated with flowers or rosemary by more high-end dairies. Creamy cheese can be delicious in salads, bread, and pizzas. While most of the creamy chevres available in the United States are made from pasteurized milk because the cheese is young, unpasteurized creamy chevres tend to have more complex flavors and an almost buttery feel.

This cheese is also made in firm and semi-firm varieties. Goats milk can be used as the dairy component for most cheese recipes, with popular hard chevres including aged goat Gouda, a creamy and complex cheese. These cheeses can be used much like their cow's milk counterparts, eaten plain in wedges, added to quiches, offered on fruit and dessert platters, or integrated into sandwiches. Some cheeses traditionally use goat milk, such as feta, and feta made with goat milk can be obtained in some parts of the world although it is more commonly mixed with the milk of sheep.

Some consumers have the mistaken idea that chevre cheese tastes strongly goaty, and is accompanied by an unpleasant aroma. Depending upon the source of the milk and type of cheese, some are more goaty than others, but the majority are simply creamy, complex cheeses with savory herbal notes. Chevre tends to be more complex than cow's milk cheese, especially when made by small dairies in limited batches.

Goats are generally allowed more free range in the pasture than cows are, and this will affect the flavor of dairy products produced from them. Summer goat milk tends to be more floral and grassy, while goats will scavenge for bitter greens during the winter to supplement their diets. This winter diet will make the milk more bitter in flavor. In addition, milk from nanny goats kept away from a billy will tend to lack the strong hormonal flavor associated with goat milk.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By lluviaporos — On Nov 14, 2012

@indigomoth - It's the same with cheeses. I know plenty of people who moan about not being able to get raw cheeses, but how could you ever trust that they were consistently safe?

I'm perfectly happy to get my chevre goat cheese from the supermarket, with all the harmful bacteria killed long before I get to it.

By indigomoth — On Nov 13, 2012

@anon176127 - There are people who will sell raw goat and cow milk at farmers' markets. I saw it on the news the other day. They were talking about how they would sell it for people to "bathe" in because that's still legal, although it's not legal to sell it for food when it's raw.

There were people who talked about how it is a super-food when it's raw and it has helpful bacteria and other elements that are destroyed by the process of pasteurization.

But, when it comes down to it, I do believe the government should regulate it. You can't justify giving raw milk to children, no matter how healthy you might claim it to be. It could have all kinds of bugs in it and so many people were once killed from drinking bad milk.

By gravois — On Aug 27, 2012

I love all different kinds of chevre and this is the best time of year to eat it. I think there is nothing better than some good bread with a slick slice of homegrown tomato and a sprinkling of goat cheese. I could eat that all day every day.

The thing is it has to be a good tomato. Chevre is great year round. But in the winter the tomatoes are not even worth touching. Its probably better that way though. Having to wait makes it better when you can finally have it again.

By anon176127 — On May 14, 2011

Now the problem with trying to sell anything from the farm is the government regulations. You can only say the product is for pet use. shame. normajean

By cougars — On Jul 24, 2010

Goat cheese by itself is more of an acquired taste, but when combined with other flavors it can be agreeable for most people.

A little sprinkled on a pizza with spinach and red onions is tasty, and not as salty as feta. It is also good when spread on the bread of a toasted panini.

By Fiorite — On Jun 30, 2010

My parents had a couple of goats when I was growing up. My mother would milk the goat everyday and make cheese to sell at the farmers market. She often made savory chevre spreads or semi soft rounds.

I disliked the smell of the milk as a kid, but I liked the cheese. The semi soft rounds had a more goat-like taste, but the soft spreadable cheese had more of a cream cheese taste.

As the article stated, I did notice the difference between the winter and summer cheese. We fed the goats mostly hay and grain in the winter, but we left them to graze on the choice grasses in the spring and summer.

I could never deal with raising a goat, but fresh goat cheese is delicious. Chevre was also one of the more profitable products that we sold at the farmers market.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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