Science Byte

Cheeses and other dairy products made from goat’s milk often have a characteristic “tang”.

Sometimes described as “waxy”, “tangy”, or “animalic”, goat cheese almost always has a prominent flavor that is formally described as “goaty”. This flavor is noticeable across the spectrum of goat cheese, but can sometimes be easier to pick up in fresh cheeses like chèvre.


Several of the fatty acids that contribute to goaty flavor

This flavor is primarily due to the fatty acid composition of goat milk and its subsequent cheese. As we’ve discussed previously, lipolysis is a reaction involving the cleavage of fatty acids from glycerol which both make up triglycerides (fat molecules). Left whole, these triglyceride molecules don’t have any flavor. When enzymes (lipases) break off the fatty acids, they are now volatile and can interact with your aroma receptors. The unique fatty acids in goat milk are what lead to its distinctive goaty flavor. A few important fatty acids that make up goaty flavor include: 4-ethyl octanoic acid, 4-methyl octanoic acid, caproic acid, and caprylic acid to name a few.

Looking for a recipe using goat cheese? Check out this recipe by my friend Kelsey, who is a food scientist that runs a terrific blog, Appeasing a Food Geek, looking at the science of various recipes.


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