Herbaceous, sweet and nutty
GoaShee is a mixed-milk cheese, made with a blend of around 30% sheep’s milk and 70% goats’ milk from Holker Farm’s own herd.
Reminiscent of Italian and Spanish hard cheeses it is matured for around six months and showcases the rich sweetness of sheep’s milk together with the delicate floral herbaceous notes from the goats’ milk.
Made by Nicola Robinson and Martin Gott at Holker Farm, in Cartmel, Cumbria, England.
More about this
Martin and Nicola are famed for their sheep’s milk cheeses, particularly St James. Setting up originally in 2006, their farm is just a small part of southern Lake District on the Holker Estate. For many years they were confined by the size of their smallholding (just 20 acres – about four fields), coupled with their desire to farm sustainably (with resources natural to Cumbria), and seasonally (with the sheep out at pasture eating diverse grasses, milked just once a day). This meant only limited amounts of sheep’s cheeses were made.
2020 saw a number of changes for Martin and Nicola. Firstly, they managed to secure from the Holker estate an extra 20 acres of land nearby, meaning they could start to make more cheese. At the same time Coronavirus hit, and the artisan and farmhouse cheese market suffered greatly. In Staffordshire, the Innes family were particularly badly affected and they decided to retire from cheese-making and sell their goats. Martin and Nicola quickly seized upon this opportunity get hold of more dairy animals, particularly as these goats had been specially bred for cheese-making by the Innes family over 20 years, to produce good quality, safe, raw-milk: milk that features richness of flavour over volume. Overnight Martin and Nicola took on 180 milking goats. (Nicola always wanted goats and had been badgering Martin for a long time anyway, so it seemed to work!)
The goats went through their milking parlour before the sheep, so they had lots of milk to use the very next day. That meant developing a cheese quickly. Hence the goats’ milk cheese was made in a similar way to their already established sheep’s milk cheese, Crook Wheel, and the hard goats’ cheese Holbrook was the result.
GoaShee is a mix of the two, made out of necessity! When sheep milk volumes are low (at the end and beginning of their milking season), it is not worth all the cheese-making effort to make such a small amount of sheep’s cheese. So Martin tops up the sheep milk with goats’ milk to make a ‘mixed-milk’ hard cheese. Mixed-milk cheeses are common in Spain and Italy but rarely found in the UK. They show advantages from the brilliance of both sheep’s and goats’ milk, which bring differences to the table – richness and sweetness from the sheep’s milk (it has more fat and protein) and herbaceous, delicate floral notes from the goats’.
Martin uses natural cheese-making cultures (similar to sourdough cultures for making bread), and follows a Lancashire recipe at first (Martin learnt a lot about cheese-making from his two-year apprenticeship with Graham Kirkham of Lancashire cheese fame) before stacking and pressing the curd to make the cheese ready for maturing for up to six months. The goats and sheep graze on the rich pastures that Martin and Nicola have steadily been improving to give better quality grasses and thereby increase the depth of flavour in their cheeses. Their animals are milked just once a day, with the warm milk going straight into the cheese vat to make cheese that very morning, every single day.
This product will have two weeks’ shelf life from the date of delivery. Conveniently, at checkout you can choose a delivery date well in the future if you would like your cheese delivering for a specific event.