Sheep’s Cheese Buyers Guide
By Claragh Nugent
Dec 22, 2021
It’s easy to get both sheep and goat’s cheeses mixed up, similar-ish kinds of animals? However, they are totally different cheeses, with some serious variety. Any cheesegeek or cheese-loving legend (yeah I’m talking about you) would know the difference between Driftwood and Crookwheel by tasting it... So let's get down to business and see what's going on behind the scenes and what actually makes the difference.
Sheep’s Milk Vs Goat’s Milk?
Well, sheep’s milk cheese is much higher in fat and protein than goat’s milk cheese, so less milk is needed to make the cheese itself. Sheep’s cheese also has quite a strong and pronounced buttery, rich flavour, such as St James to name one, whose deep creaminess simply blows you away. Although sheep’s cheese is high in fat content, the molecules themselves are very small, so therefore it’s generally easier to digest compared to cow’s cheese or goat’s cheese.
Is Sheep’s Cheese less healthy than Cow or Goat’s cheese if it's higher in fat?
Absolutely not, higher in fat is not just a negative thing seeing as it is also referring to ‘healthy fats’. The body needs these for various functions such as absorbing vitamins. These healthy fats lower LDL cholesterol (bad) and increase HDL cholesterol (good). Think H for Hero and L for loser! Sheep's cheese is also rich in triglycerides, which can greatly benefit weight control by promoting the feeling of fullness, reducing fat deposits, and increasing energy expenditure. So what we’re saying is healthy fats are necessary to function and bring about some serious positive outcomes in your body... Pass the Truffled Spenwood.
How come those who are lactose intolerant can sometimes eat Sheep’s cheese? I thought they can’t eat dairy?
Those who develop an intolerance to lactose (a sugar in milk), often can't have any cow or goat’s cheese, but can safely have sheep’s cheese. This is because during the production of hard sheep’s cheese specifically, the majority of the lactose is discarded in the whey. As well as this, coming back to the higher quantity of fat in sheep’s milk, the greater amount causes a lot more lactose absorption naturally within the milk, resulting in a lower level of lactose overall.
Sheep's Cheese Buyers Guide:
For the Mild Folk
This hard French delight pretty much defines ‘smooth cheese’. Its supple texture, nutty, caramel and fruity flavours calls for a fair title of hands-down grate cheese ( mis-spelling and pun intended). Without any sharpness and tanginess, it’s perfect for those who prefer a delicate taste, rather than anything too strong.
This guy looks a little funny, but we’d never judge a cheese by its cover. Having a flat-topped pyramid shape and a wrinkled grey rind dusted with ash, he isn’t exactly George Clooney in the 80’s, but oh boy is he tasty. Soft on the inside, with subtle citrusy flavours throughout its thick mousse-like texture, Pave is perfect to chomp away on all day.
For the strong-loving chaps.
This baby deserves all the fame, glory and popularity it gets. Its delicious depth of rich and nutty sweetness, accompanied by a clear honey flavour, is simply remarkable. The graininess adds some pretty darn good texture, and that oiliness on the surface simply leaves you wanting more and more… and more. If I’m ever caught flirting with a cheese, it might just be Manchego.
Now us cheesegeeks refer to her as Spenny, purely because we’re on that level now, but feel free to call her by her full title if you’d prefer. This British take on the classic Pecorino is nutty in a sweet way at 6 months, but she really changes at 9 months onwards giving toasted caramel undertones with umami flavours.. Nearly like a piece of meat but in a cheesy way ( Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it). The older she gets, the harder she gets too, getting to that 'grate me' look. No matter when you meet Spenny, she’ll show you a good time (we recently tried a 3 year old Spenny at HQ and we fell head over heels in love).
For our Vegetarian Friends:
Mrs Bell’s Blue:
She’s a Roquefort-style cheese, just a little toned down. Don’t be worried though, it has everything you’d expect - saltiness, crumbliness, creaminess, melt in your mouth texture.. the lot. The aromas from this blue cheese is something else, ranging from herby to sweet honey. This gal is a vegetarian cracker.
Fudgey, caramely and buttery, this cheese has already picked up a mere 7 awards. Only made between February and September in Ireland, and aged for a minimum of 6 months, the result is cheese perfection. It strikes a perfect balance across the entire board. Firm yet creamy, full yet not over powering, sweet but savoury, it really has it all.
So there you have it, a little baa baa.... background on Sheep's Cheese and why it is so darn good, as well as a little buyers blog to help you with your cheesy needs!