Sunshine Coast goat cheese producer's Masterchef connection

Sunshine Coast goat cheese producer's Masterchef connection


Agribusiness
SAY CHEESE: Karen Lindsay started out with two goats about 15 years ago and now has 80. Her cheese business has been steadily growing.

SAY CHEESE: Karen Lindsay started out with two goats about 15 years ago and now has 80. Her cheese business has been steadily growing.

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A Sunshine Coast goat dairy has been making big steps, and now Masterchef has come knocking.

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When Karen Lindsay introduced two goats to the farm she shares with husband Ross, a banana farmer, at Wamuran 15 years ago, she likely couldn't have guessed that she would catch the cheesemaking bug and end up as a supplier to numerous restaurants. 

Mrs Lindsay runs Little White Goat Cheese and her products are rapidly gaining a strong local following, recently culminating with a phone call while Masterchef Australia was filming in Queensland, asking to use some of her cheese.

"I didn't think it was real at first," she said. "I'm still not sure how they found us but it's very exciting."

It's the latest achievement for the quickly expanding business, which supplies several Sunshine Coast restaurants, including celebrity chef Matt Golinski's Noosa restaurant.

On the Lindsays' 80 hectare block there are now about 80 goats with the herd made up of Saanens, Toggenburgs and British Alpines.

"I'm hoping this year we'll put maybe about 40 goats into kid and they usually have twins so we'll see how the numbers grow," Mrs Lindsay said. 

"My daughter and I got the first two goats... I started making soaps and creams and then we decided let's go and do a cheese course and we were hooked." 

Mrs Lindsay was still working as a teacher at the time and had initially considered having the goats and using their milk as a weekend project but the plan soon snowballed. 

She said one learning curve that came with raising more goats was how the female goats often need help during birth. 

"We've had six or seven kidding in one day and you had one kidding while the other one's starting to kid and you're running backwards and forwards… it's like a maternity ward," she said. 

Some of the 80 goats being run at the Lindsays' Wamuran farm.

Some of the 80 goats being run at the Lindsays' Wamuran farm.

While the hot weather has meant milk production has dropped, during good conditions Mrs Lindsay gets about 300L a week. 

All of the goats have names, with a different theme picked for each year's progeny. 

"We've had Game of Thrones, last year was flowers and I'm thinking this year might be movie stars," Mrs Lindsay said. 

Ross and Karen Lindsay on their Wamuran farm.

Ross and Karen Lindsay on their Wamuran farm.

It truly is a family affair, with her mother helping out at the markets and with packaging the cheese. 

Mrs Lindsay also uses buffalo milk and camel milk from fellow Sunshine Coast producers Maleny Buffalo and QCamel to make cheese. 

Also on the cards is a potential partnership with Towri Sheep Cheeses at Allenview to create a sheep and buffalo blue cheese.

Mrs Lindsay is currently taking part in a three-month long Sunshine Coast food innovation accelerator program called Grow Coastal, something she hopes will help make 2019 a big growth year for the business. 

"The people that have come out of that program have just flown," she said. 

The cheesemaking process

If you associate goats cheese with a strong, sharp flavour, Karen Lindsay's cheese may come as a bit of a surprise.

Mrs Lindsay said many people are surprised how mild it is, with the taste the result of several decisions about the goats' care.

"If you feed them really strong food, it comes out in the milk," she said.

"That's what gives it that really strong flavour."

Mrs Lindsay also swears by separating male and female goats, as the presence of the bucks has an affect on the taste of the milk.

Every morning about 25 goats are milked, a number Mrs Lindsay hopes to double, and the cheese is made in a food safe kitchen made out of a converted shipping container.

She produces 90-100 jars of Persian goat feta a week in addition to the buffalo and camel cheeses.

"Every two or three days I pasteurise," she said.

"Once it's cooled in the cold room you then add your culture and your rennet and then I let it sit overnight. That's how I make my whey.

"The next afternoon, you scoop the layers of cheese into draining buckets and then you let it drain for probably one and a half to two days, flipping it all the time to get rid of the moisture. "

After that the cheese is put into brine for three days to a week, before being packaged in jars with oils, garlic, herbs and black pepper.

Mrs Lindsay plans to make goat cheddar and a buffalo blue this year.

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