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Nestled in the rolling hills of mid-Missouri near Harrisburg, a charming eighty-acre farm is home to more than fifty contented goats. The milk from these goats becomes the delicious artisan cheese made by Ken and Jen Muno, with assistance from their son Peter.
Goatsbeard Farm is the only small family farm in Missouri that is also a commercial goat and dairy producing cheese, according to the Munos. The Munos keep their herd small to maintain high standards at each stage of production and to ensure customers the highest quality cheese.
Because the Munos are dedicated to creating a sustainable livelihood from the land, they implement principles of land management that include the use of natural fertilizers, heating home and dairy with hot water from an outdoor, wood-burning furnace, and recycling the whey back into the fields for soil nourishment. The goats feed on alfalfa and grain in a management-intensive grazing system.
The end product is a light, lemony-flavored cheese that is adaptable to hundreds of recipes. The nine-month old, alpine-style Taum Sauk cheese mimics a fine Swiss cheese and is the perfect ingredient for our chicken and pine nut quiche. The Walloon, aged up to a year, offers a nutty, full flavor perfect for grating and using on pastas and risotto. Round of soft cheese include Pepper Round, rolled in cracked black pepper and wrapped to allow the flavor to penetrate the delicate cheese. The Herb Round, rolled in savory thyme, rosemary, basil, tarragon, organic lavender, and fennel seed, is just right served at room temperature with flat-bread crackers and wine. Both the Franklin Island Feta and the Moniteau Blue are superior cheeses bold enough to enjoy on their own yet delicate enough to enhance any dish.
Goatsbeard cheeses are available in St. Louis at Local Harvest, The Smokehouse Market, The Wine & Cheese Place, Whole Foods Market, The Wine Merchant and Maplewood Farmers Market, and in Columbia at the Root Cellar, Clovers Natural Market, and Hy-Vee Supermarket. Meet the Munos every Saturday morning at the Columbia Farmer's Market from 8 a.m. to noon.