Food for Thought: An Indiana Harvest is divided into nine chapters. The “Artisanal” chapter includes: Judy Schad, Tim Burton, Chris Eley, Greg Gunthorp, Sharon Yoder, Ted Huber, Max Troyer, David Barrickman. Get a taste for this chapter by reading the story below.
Capriole Farmstead Goat Cheeses
The goats scamper up to greet you at Judy Schad’s Capriole Farmstead. Located in New Albany, a stone’s throw from the Ohio River, Capriole has been winning first place awards for over twenty years, including gold medals for its Mont St. Francis, Sofia, and Old Kentucky Tomme cheeses at an international competition at Basilicata, Italy, in 2007. In addition to its fresh goat cheese, Capriole also produces surface ripened, aged, and specialty cheeses. “I feel like it takes ten years to really get cheese where you want it,” says Judy. “We are still working on things that we started fifteen or twenty years ago.”
What goat milk is for
In some ways, in our part of the state, I don’t feel like I’m from Indiana. We’re so close to Kentucky, Louisville’s always been my big hometown. We get Louisville news, we get Louisville food, so our food culture here is a little more upper south. I grew up on persimmon pudding. It’s all Ohio River Valley.
I had a wonderful grandmother who was an incredible cook and cooked out of her garden. You know, the pigs and chickens ate what wasn’t good enough for the table. Everything was fresh. My mother was a great cook. I got The Joy of Cooking when I was fourteen and was making puff pastry by the time I was sixteen.
My involvement with cheeses started with the goats. We came to the country as really stupid city people. We knew nothing; we had one fiasco after another: the acre of asparagus that all got drowned because we didn’t have enough dirt to put in the trenches . . . . It was just one thing after another.
I came here with the idea of growing my own food and having our own milk. I wanted a cow. But we had a neighbor who said, “Oh, you don’t want a cow. You don’t want to get up at five o’clock in the morning and go over there when it’s twenty below zero and have to clean all the shit off the back of the cow before you can milk her. You don’t want to do that. You need a goat.” That was how it all started.
Goats are probably the city person’s idea of what an animal should be. They’re about half cow, half dog: smart, clever, interesting, different personalities, friendly. If you feed a baby on a bottle, they’re going to know you three years later. When you walk in a barn and animals come up and nibble on you, you know that somebody’s taken good care of them. They don’t run when you come in. They’re very, very personable, and we just fell in love with them.
About 1982, we took the goats to the Indiana State Fair and got Best of Show, had a great time—the kids did, fooling around with them—but we had all this milk. By that time there were fifteen goats, and what are you going to do with all of it? The kids didn’t want to drink it because they were city kids who grew up on 2 percent and you couldn’t disguise it or do anything to it. I’d put it in half-gallon milk containers but no, that is goat milk—they knew!
About that time, I ate my first goat cheese from Lettie Kilmoyer. It was on the menus in Louisville and in retail stores. You could buy the little white tubes of what everybody thinks of as goat cheese, even though thereare 250 different kinds, they think of the white stuff: That’s goat cheese. And I was just, oh, oh, my god, this is unbelievable. This is what goat milk is for.
When you think about it, in every country where they have it, that is what goat milk is for. Children may drink it in the home but, by and large, it’s not marketed as milk. It’s marketed as cheese. And that’s the Mediterranean thing: Cow milk is for drinking; goat milk is for cheese.
I thought, well, this is incredible. I started making it in the kitchen and bought this little book called Cheesemaking Made Easy (I still have it here somewhere) from Ricki Carroll up at New England Cheesemaking Supply and, after three years of this, I said, “We need to think about selling this. Let’s turn another dream into a nightmare and do the goat cheese thing.”
In a fresh goat cheese I look, first of all, for that clean, lemony acidity. But what I think makes ours different is texture. This cheese is all hand-ladled very carefully—300-gallon vats into baskets and into molds so as not to disturb that texture. If it’s a more industrial cheese, likely it’s been pumped with a low velocity pump that breaks down that textural thing. So ours is really light. We still do it the old way.
It’s real laborious. It takes probably two to three hours in the morning to dip that vat of cheese and to ladle it, and then it drains. And about six hours into the drainage, once the curd has settled and formed, we salt it and hang it. The next day we come back and package it. That’s the basic fresh white stuff that we all think of as chevre.
My market did not begin locally. It had to be regional and even national because there wasn’t that much awareness of goat cheese. But the great thing about that was that our entrée was through chefs, so there was immediate validity for an unusual product because it started in the restaurants. In the 1970s, there was goat cheese on the east and west coasts, but it was not the norm here. It was a bunch of crazy women with a handful of goats who really started the whole thing.
My best friend is Mary Keehn from Cypress Grove in Humboldt County, California—she makes a cheese called Humboldt Fog—and Paula Lambert from the Mozzarella Company. In a way, my community has been this cohort of fellow women, primarily cheese makers, from Massachusetts to Texas to California to Oregon. We all still know each other. It’s still a very small world. We haven’t begun to die off quite yet, so my theory is, if you do it good enough, long enough, they will come. And that’s what we’ve tried to do.