Pure Luck Farm and Dairy in Dripping Springs, TX, has been making handmade artisan goat cheeses since 1995, so it was more than just “pure luck” when the dairy’s Basket Molded Chèvre tied for third place best of show in the 2023 American Cheese Society Judging and Competition, making it among the top five tastiest cheeses in the U.S.
Pure Luck Cheesemaker Amelia Sweethardt says she was thrilled a farmstead goat cheese could get to that level.
“We were in absolute shock. I never expected a humble goat cheese to get one of these awards,” she says. “You feel like your program is working.”
And working it is. In addition to the Basket Molded Chèvre win, Pure Luck also brought home awards with three other cheeses in 2023 — Herbes de Provence, June’s Joy and Silver Lining.
Pure Luck has come a long way since Sweethardt’s late mother, Sara Sweetser, bought the 11-acre homestead in central Texas in 1979. Sara started experimenting with making cheese, and in 1995, she made the decision to start the Grade A goat dairy.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Sweethardt has been making cheese since 1997. She now runs all the cheese plant operations, manages the herd and makes award-winning cheeses.
Basket Molded Chèvre
Basket Molded Chèvre is a French lactic-style soft cheese with a creamy versatility and clean, tangy flavor. It is made over a four-day process. Sweethardt says the process begins with milking the herd of Nubian and Alpine goats and putting the raw milk in the bulk tank. As it ferments, the proteins come closer together and a curd is formed. “The next day when you open it, it looks like a yogurt,” says Sweethardt.
The cheese is then hand-ladled into basket molds to drain. At this point, Sweethardt says, the chèvre begins to take shape. “Instead of having a big, loose curd, it has drained and pulled together as a beautiful cheese.”
The cheese is hand-salted and drained more overnight, and on the fourth day, it is packaged.
Pure Luck makes cheeses seven days a week. “There is almost always an overlap with a farmstead production,” says Sweethardt.
Pure Luck primarily sells its cheeses at local farmers markets and local distributors. Its cheeses are also available at Houston Dairymaids in Houston, TX, and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop in Austin, TX.
The Basket Molded Chèvre has about a four-week shelf life and was “never designed to travel very far,” says Sweethardt.
She says it pairs well with tart jams, like cherry or raspberry or even black pepper, and “everyone loves goat cheese on a salad.”
She also recommends the chèvre with a light sparkling wine. “It lifts it off the tongue,” says Sweethardt.
The Basket Molded Chèvre was among 370 total awards given at the 2023 American Cheese Society Judging and Competition ceremony — 113 gold medals, 127 silver medals and 130 bronze medals among 141 organizations.
“I feel like this win represented every little goat cheese operation in the country,” says Sweethardt.