This has never been a particularly dairy centric household. Cheese, we all love, obviously, and soured cream is essential for Mexican food, but once you get into things like yoghurt and milk, we’ve always been more likely to opt for plant based products. I think this began as a hangover from my intense allergy to dairy when I was a baby (it gave me eczema so severe I couldn’t be held) but eventually we all quietly decided that we just preferred it.
However, over the years I’ve been introduced to goats milk dairy (which when I was a slightly older child didn’t trigger my eczema quite so severely) several times, and been fond of it. So, when St. Helen’s Farm asked if I was interested in sampling their range in order to ‘vary my dairy’ this month, I figured it might be interesting to bring you that perspective: plant based “dairy” products vs. those made with goats milk.
I loved every single St Helen’s product I tried with the exception of just one, which I’ll get into in a minute. I tried cheeses, yoghurts, butters and milks and was really impressed with all of them. The trick with goats dairy, I think, is that you have to like the taste. If you’ve never tried it before, it’s difficult to describe. Products made with goats milk tend to be much sharper, their flavour comes out more strongly in your coffee, your cake or your toast. So, if you’re not really feeling that, this range isn’t for you. However, if you’ve been known to nibble on a slice of goats cheese or two in your time, I strongly recommend that you explore what else St Helen’s have to offer in the way of dairy swaps to expand your culinary horizons and mess around with flavour.
The only product I wasn’t as keen on was the spreadable goats cheese. I think it’s because they’ve done too good a job of making it taste like Dairylea, and for me that makes it lose the distinctive sharp and high quality taste of goats dairy products. That was my only “meh, I don’t like this as much” moment. The rest is perfect.
If you’ve not really messed around with goats dairy before and I’ve tempted you into incorporating it into your kitchen, you might not know where to start. I’ve got your back, bro. I’d say start with the cheese and the yoghurt (both a little easier to bury taste-wise if it turns out you don’t like them) and go from there.
Cheese: pictured above is a risotto and a big hearty plate of sausage and mash. For the risotto, I used the milder standard St Helens goats cheese, just grated and swirled in right at the end of cooking. It’s gentle taste complemented the mushroomy creamy risotto perfectly. For my mashed potatoes, I used the stronger mature cheese, which really let you know it was in there (in a good way) when it came to eating.
Yoghurt: my god, I love goats yoghurt. While cows yoghurt has a little tang to it, the goat stuff is just streets ahead in terms of that signature sharpness (I’m well aware of how often I’m using that word and I’m truly sorry but it is what it is) and just good flavour. It’s absolute perfection served with a dollop of good strawberry jam for dessert, and works really well in savoury dishes too. Seen above mixed with cucumber for a cooling side to a curry, it’d also go down very well in a homemade slaw.
If you try those and they please you, move on to that butter. It’s gorgeous, lightly salted, luxurious, I slather it onto my toast so thick I may soon drop dead of heart disease but it will all have been worth it.
Are you into goats dairy? Got any favourites? Are you a total novice with just enough curiosity to give it a go? Let me know in the comments. You can find St Helen’s Farm products in most good supermarkets these days, and get some more information on their website if you’re interested!
This post was in collaboration with St Helens Farm, all views are (obvi) my own