Don't Let a Season Go By

We covered how the percentage of butterfat in milk changes with each season, and how the diets of animals change during each season of the year. The fun of this for cheese tasters is that your favorite cheeses change right along with the butterfat content and the diets, making them different experiences at each time of year.

The best way to experience these seasonal fluctuations is to pick a favorite artisanal cheese, say a goat's-milk crottin, and taste it during the spring, summer, and fall. The crottin will be sweetest in the spring, when the goats have just given birth, are coming into lactation, and feeding on newly greened pastures. As the summer progresses, the butterfat content goes down, and the crottins become lighter, both in taste and texture.

In fall, the goats begin to build up their winter stores of fat, and butterfat content goes up, making the cheese heavier, with nuances of savory fall grains. Finally, in late fall, the butterfat and flavors are at their creamiest peaks, making these crottins delightful holiday treats. But don't look for them again until spring; the goats will be taking the long winter months off for gestation and childbirth.

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