Just a little north of Bozeman in Belgrade MT, the Amaltheia Organic Dairy is backed up to the Bridger Mountains. Pull into the drive and you’ll be met by a view of hundreds of goats and kids – somewhere around 400 is the latest count.
Mel and Sue Brown milk more than 200 goats and, in their small cheese plant, they turn out chevre, whole milk ricotta, and feta cheese. The original three flavors of Amaltheia’s chevre won American Cheese Society awards in 2004 and the whole milk ricotta was called “perfect” by the Society judges.
To produce the milk they need, the Browns have five different breeds of goats: Saanen, Alpine, La Mancha, Nubian, and Toggenberg. Some breeds give more milk while others produce milk that has higher butterfat levels. (If you see a goat with little tiny ears that look almost like baby’s ears, those are La Manchas.)
It takes 5 pounds of milk to make one pound of chevre and 8 pounds to make 1 pound of feta. Each goat gives about three-fourths of a gallon of milk a day. Do the math… milking 200+ goats every day means making thousands of pounds of cheese a week.
Amaltheia Dairy cheese is not just delicious, but it’s good for you too!
Cheese made from goat’s milk is lower in calories than that made of cow’s milk. Goat’s milk is easier to digest and people who are lactose intolerant can often eat goat cheese without distress. Amaltheia’s feta is also lower in sodium than most feta cheeses; it is brined for only two days to keep it sweeter, with less salty flavor.
All the milk is organic and vat pasteurized and only organic herbs and vegetables are used to make the flavored cheeses. Rennet is used to turn the milk into curds and Sue insists on vegetable rennet in her processing. Traditional rennet is an enzyme taken most often from the stomachs of cows.
Sue Brown’s hand-made chevre comes in seven flavors:
- Plain* – very mild and creamy
- Roasted Garlic & Chive* – a favorite with the guys
- Spiced Pepper* – red pepper, porcini, and just a touch of jalapeno – all the flavor yet not too hot
- Sundried Tomato – we love them all but this one gets 4-thumbs up in the Kailing household
Olive Medley – a seasonal favorite that may make it into a year-round selection
- Cranberry Walnut – perfect for the upcoming holidays
- Perigord Black Truffle – the ultimate treat
But wait! Sue has been experimenting with aged cheeses and if you ask very nicely you might be able to buy a wedge of her Bozemana – a gouda-style cheese. If we had more thumbs we’d turn them all up here!
Amaltheia cheeses are currently sold in food co-ops and natural food markets through out the western US or you can buy your favorite flavor directly from Amaltheia’s website.
* American Cheese Society Award Winners, 2004