Learning to Make Goat Cheese in Costa Rica
Our family has never enjoyed the ordinary “touristy” activities when we travel. Instead we prefer to get local and find tours that help us truly immerse ourselves in our destination. Costa Rica was no different.
I struggled to find unique activities around our tiny town of Montezuma so I had to expand my search a little. I came across Pura Vida Expeditions, a tour company run out of nearby Tambor, roughly an hour away. They offer a truly one-of-a-kind experience that I knew our family would love: goat cheese making.
I sent an email inquiring about their tour, assuming we would need to pay additional transportation charges since we were so far away. I was pleasantly surprised when Javier emailed me back saying that our transportation would still be complimentary despite being so far from their office.
The goat farm that Pura Vida Expeditions partners with is located in a remote town in the mountains of the Nicoya Peninsula. The journey there took almost an hour along bumpy dirt roads. A group of local women from the village run the farm and tend to the goats. Sometimes the cheese products are sold at nearby markets such as Cobano but mostly they’re sold within the tiny villages nearby.
Good to Know: If you’re staying on the coast then this tour will give you the opportunity to see the mountain region of Costa Rica. In fact my mother enjoyed being in the mountains more than being on the coast. Perhaps next time that’s where we’ll stay!
A group of these friendly women were at the farm to greet us on our arrival. It felt as though we were visiting the home of someone’s grandmother, they were so warm and welcoming. They prepared a delicious snack of goat cheese with spices and fresh juice which was a BIG hit, especially with Stink.
After our snack Stink has the opportunity to feed a bottle to one of the baby goats. She was too mesmerized with watching the baby goat eat that she didn’t feed him much. Eventually she “taught” us how to feed the goat and then stood by and watched while we did all the work.
Next we all got the chance at goat milking. This was one of my favorite parts of the tour! Brandon, Stink and my mom struggled to milk the goats but for me it came quite naturally. If you’ve never milked a goat or cow before it’s like trying to squeeze air out of a balloon through a tiny pinhole without popping the balloon. Once you figure it out it makes total sense. Pretty soon our buckets were full and it was time to start making some cheese.
There’s an elaborate process of turning the milk into curds to make the cheese and we weren’t involved in that. Instead the women took out a batch of already-processed curds for us to use.
Making goat cheese is actually SUPER easy. First you chop the curds up.
Then you put it in a bowl and add boiling hot water. Smoosh the curds around in the water until they’re back together again.
Take the insanely hot cheese and slap it against the counter a few times, stretching as you go.
Add a dash of salt to the underside of the cheese, roll it up in a ball and stick it in the fridge. Voila!
I’m no cheese fanatic and up until this trip had never actually tried goat cheese. I was a little wary about eating it but it has a surprisingly mild taste, similar to mozzarella. All of us (even Stink!) got to make our own cheese balls to take back home with us.
After cheese making our hosts treated us to a delicious buffet lunch. We dined on red beans with onions, rice, chicken, fresh avocado and salad. And what’s even more amazing is that everything was grown locally and organically.
The Verdict: Making goat cheese is probably one of the most unique tours in Costa Rica that I’ve ever experienced. I highly recommend Pura Vida Expeditions if you’re staying on the Nicoya Peninsula. The goat farm is their most family friendly tour, great for all ages, but they also offer other tours as well such as fishing and ATV riding.
Good to Know: During the rainy season the road to the farm may be inaccessible so be sure to check with Pura Vida Expeditions before booking.
Child Friendly? Yes! Everything about this tour is family friendly and the women who run the farm simply adore children. They were so kind and helpful to Stink during our visit and showered her with hugs. Also, as I’ve written in previous posts, there’s PLENTY of other kid-friendly activities in the southern Nicoya Peninsula if you’re considering a long stay in Costa Rica.
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