Gold medal win for feta cheese

By John Maslin

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GOATS' CHEESE GOLD: Rae Doughty with two of her "designer" cheeses, including a basil pesto (left) and a herb-coated hard cheese. PHOTOS/STUART MUNRO
GOATS' CHEESE GOLD: Rae Doughty with two of her "designer" cheeses, including a basil pesto (left) and a herb-coated hard cheese. PHOTOS/STUART MUNRO

LIKE THE TV ad says, "good things take time", and for Whanganui artisan cheesemaker Rae Doughty, patience has proved to be golden.

Mrs Doughty has been creating specialty goats' milk cheese for five years from the farm she and husband Brian run in Brunswick, north of the city.

She has entered the NZ Specialist Cheesemakers annual awards with some success in that time but this year's competition has seen her pick up gold and silver medals, and this against the big boys of the industry.

Her Tuscan-flavoured feta won a gold medal and the plain feta a silver but she's modest about her success.

"Winning's an achievement, I suppose, and while I'm thrilled I don't go around crowing about it," Mrs Doughty said.

But it's not the award so much as the written feedback she's getting on her goat cheese that matters most.

"It's invaluable information and means more to me than anything else."

She started cheese-making with a herd of milking goats providing the raw product. The first year's production was done in the family kitchen, but since then she has been creating a variety of cheeses from a purpose-built cheese shed next to the homestead.

Her Lonely Goat cheeses are sold regularly at the city's River Traders market and at Ambrosia delicatessen in Ridgway St, as well as Commonsense Organics in Wellington. Other outlets in Wellington have asked for her cheeses, but Mrs Doughty said that would mean increasing production, and that's something she's not keen on at the moment. It would mean taking on staff and increasing production to keep up with demand.

"There just aren't enough hours in the day," she said.

At peak she's processing 60 litres of milk daily. It's a complicated and precise operation, demanding constant checks for things like time and temperature.

She said her husband isn't too keen on the flavoured cheeses.

"When I checked the results and said I'd won a silver medal for the plain feta, Brian said, 'I don't know why you worry about those bloody flavoured cheeses.' Then I checked further and saw I'd won gold for the Tuscan cheese. That's kept him quiet," she said.

The Lonely Goat range includes feta, camembert, hard cheeses, cream cheese and yoghurt.

Mrs Doughty's production starts in late September through to March. While goats' milk has been the raw product, she's about to start on a 50/50 mix of cow and goat milk because her goats' production is tapering off because of a lack of feed.

-Rae Doughty's cheese-making operation will feature on an upcoming episode of Country Calendar.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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