Upleveling Goat Cheese from Costco
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While the treasure hunt atmosphere and great deals at Costco are alluring, buying in bulk has both its benefits and drawbacks. For instance, it’s hard to use up some of the fresh food items you’ve purchased before they go bad. I personally would not be able to eat 2 logs of Costco goat cheese before they went bad (by just keeping them in the fridge).
Speaking of the 2-pack of goat cheese Costco sells, here are some tips on how to put all that cheese to work, and uplevel it while you’re at it.
Simply put, you create your own goat cheese infusions and freeze them. I’ll share two of my favorites: 1) goat cheese with honey and lavender, and 2) goat cheese with honey and dates. These make a great salad topping and can also be used on fruit or bread (you’ll just need to defrost them before attempting to spread this on bread).
I make a lot of elaborate salads, so I’m always experimenting with ingredients. Anyway, after some trial and error, I found that freezing goat cheese works well for salads. You just take out the frozen cheese before serving, slice some off, and put on the salad. This allows you to have more control over the goat cheese since it is really gooey and hard to direct in the desired parts of the salad at fridge temp.
Also, buying flavored goat cheese at places besides Costco can be really expensive and the small container of locally produced lavender goat cheese will go bad before you remember to use it all (even with a small quantity). I found one brand of honey goat cheese to be way too sweet, so I created my own infusions.
Step 1: Make the base
Take the goat cheese out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes or so. This allows the goat cheese to soften and makes it easier to work with. After that, remove the goat cheese and put in a non-reactive bowl (glass is fine) that is large enough to do a lot of mixing. Add honey to taste. For this step, try a squirt of the honey, mix it up really well with a fork, then see if the taste is to your liking.
Step 2: infuse with your desired flavoring or ingredient
If you enjoy culinary lavender, place a small amount in a mortar and pestle and grind well. Then mix this into the goat cheese well. Note: lavender is pretty potent, so start with a pinch of it. We harvested some lavender from our garden and used it. If you like dates and still have a large box of them from Costco sitting around as you wonder what else to do with them, this is your lucky day! By the way, I refrigerate my dates so that they stay fresh for longer. Ok, back to the dates, remove the pits and the woody ends and slice into small pieces. Then gradually mix them in into the honey goat cheese. If you try to do this all at once, they’re likely to get stump in a large clump.
Step 3: prepare for freezing
Place a dollop of the infused goat cheese on a piece of plastic wrap. Push from the outside to shape the goat cheese into a log –it doesn’t have to be perfect, you’re just trying to squeeze the air out. Then wrap the piece so the goat cheese is covered tightly. Twist the ends to look like a piece of candy and fold over. Put the wrapped goat cheese in a zipper-locked bag meant for freezer storage after marking what the contents are.
Step 4: take out of the freezer and enjoy!
Slice thinly and put on the salad just before serving and it's like having goat cheese ice cream! The frozen texture makes it easier to place the cheese where you want on your salad -- instead of sitting in a big clump like refrigerated goat cheese does. Please take care when slicing as it's a little tricky to slice goat cheese when frozen solid. You don't have to worry about eating cheese that's as hard as an ice block as the small pieces of goat cheese will begin to thaw immediately.
In sum, if you are open to spending a little bit of extra time with your purchases from Costco (after schlepping over there and then putting all purchases away after your shopping trip), you can make some lovely infused goat cheese. Plus, you’ll feel good about not throwing away food. Also, as a side note, I’ve tried mixing goat cheese and basil pesto (no honey this time) and it’s great in scrambled eggs or spread on a baguette. I don’t recommend freezing and thawing this as it makes for a slightly mushier texture. The pesto goat cheese could be good on pizza too!