The Cheese Insider

Our cheese shop, like almost every other artisan cheese shop in the world, carries both raw milk and pasteurized milk cheeses. Although Europe has fewer cheeses that are made with pasteurized milk, they still have many that are. Unlike most European countries, the United States requires cheesemakers that use raw milk to age their cheese for at least 60 days before selling it to the public.

Pasteurization, the technique of heating an ingredient for a specific period of time to kill potentially harmful microorganisms, was invented by French scientist Louis Pasteur in the nineteenth century. Cheesemakers typically use one of two types of pasteurization. Standard pasteurization (high temperature/short time – HTST), the faster, more economical method, heats the milk to 161 degrees F and holds it there for 15 seconds before quickly cooling the milk to between 45 to 55 degrees. Sadly, this flash pasteurization of milk often results in a telltale “cooked” flavor and slows down the ripening process, which typically affects a cheese’s complexity, character, flavor, and texture. Some cheesemakers use heat treatment pasteurization, which gently heats for 30 minutes at 145 degrees. This method produces a cheese with a more natural flavor.

Pasteurization kills 99 percent of the bacteria in milk. Unfortunately for cheese lovers, it also destroys the natural enzymes that impart much of the flavor of a cheese’s complexity and character in both flavor and aroma. That is not to say that an expert cheesemaker can’t produce a really good cheese with pasteurized milk by reintroducing strains of lactic acid bacteria and through ripening techniques.

Our cheese shop in Egg Harbor offers a wide range of cheeses that are made with raw, heat-treated and pasteurized milk.

I had a gentleman in the store the other day that seemed to be a real cheese lover. He quickly discovered what a well made raw milk cheese can do. We were sampling Big Ed’s, a raw milk, Gouda style cheese, made by Saxon Creamery that day. He took a sample and after a few seconds I asked him what he taught of the cheese. He responded with a shrug of his shoulders and said, “It’s OK, but not enough flavor.” I stepped away, and ten seconds later he turns to me and says, “Wow, what a big finish on that cheese, it is really good.” Bingo, welcome to a well made raw milk cheese.

We feature a number of fantastic raw milk cheeses, including: Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese Co., a three-time “Best of Show winner of the American Cheese Society, Marieke’s Gouda from Holland’s Family Cheese, United States “Grand Champion,” and what I consider the best Gouda anywhere in the world, Evalon, a goat cheese from LaClare Farms, United States “Grand Champion” in 2011, Buttermilk Blue from Emmi Roth, Grass Fed Gouda from Edelweiss Creamery and the two cheeses we carry from Saxon Creamery, Big Ed’s and Green Fields, just to name a few.

The cheeses from Roelli Cheese Haus are all made with “heat-treated milk,” including Blue Ribbon winners Dunbarton Blue, Red Rock, and Chris Roelli’s latest creation, Little Mountain, a washed rind, alpine style cheese. We need a pipeline from the Roelli cheese plant just to try to keep his fantastic cheeses in stock. The Emmentaler, a big wheel Swiss from Edelweiss Creamery, is also a great “heat-treated milk” cheese.

Buying good cheese can be a fun and flavorful adventure.

Source: The Cheese Lovers Companion, Ron & Sharon Herbst, 2007