There is an old Spanish proverb that reads: Cheese from the ewe, milk from the goat, butter from the cow. Could this explain why I tend to gravitate toward these nutty, full-flavored sheepy curds? Sheep have been raised for milk for thousands of years, long before the now ubiquitous cow. Not that I have any grievances with things bovine. But I have come to realize that many of my most favorite cheeses are of the ovine persuasion. As Iâ€™ve studied and tasted cheeses as part of my on-the-job training, Iâ€™ve discovered some interesting things about the milk of these woolly creatures.
A brief foray into the world of nutrition gives me some clues as to why these cheeses taste so darn good. Did you know that sheepâ€™s milk is highly nutritious? Itâ€™s richer in vitamins A, B, B6, B12, D and E, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, zinc and magnesium than cow and goatâ€™s milk? With its short and medium chain fatty acids, sheep milk is easier to digest. OK–itâ€™s also higher in fat, but as it turns out, this fat is not as high in saturated fatty acids as compared to goat and cowâ€™s milk.
Also, less is more. Since sheepâ€™s milk is higher in solids, it takes less milk to make a pound of cheese than cow or goatâ€™s milk. This is a good thing because sheep produce much less milk in a given day that goats or cows and that explains why these cheeses can be a bit more expensive than those made from other animals.
Some claim it can prevent hangovers. If you are familiar with the discomfort of having over-indulged after a night of drinking on the town, try drinking a glass of sheep milk or eating a hunk of Abbaye de Belloc a couple hours before you go out and it will line your stomach. The goal is to prevent the hangover rather than having to cure it.
Finally, I surmise that the skills of a dedicated cheesemaker combined with the use of this uber-nutritous milk make it impossible not to love sheep milk cheeses. Some of my favorites include Carles Roquefort, Bianco Sardo di Moliterno, Pecorino Balze Volteranne, Spenwood, Zamorano, Ossau-Iraty, Tourmalet, Berkswell and Torta del Casar. Youâ€™ll find descriptions of these cheeses on our website and you just may be tempted to try one or two at your next gathering. Ewe better believe it!
Drop Ship and Corporate Gift Culinary Advisor