In this article, you’ll discover what artisanal cheese is and what makes it so special compared to many other kinds of cheese.
Artisan cheese is basically cheese that’s made by hand using natural methods rather than being mass-produced. It is believed that cheese has been around for thousands of years, but it’s only since the 1950s that mass production began. Sadly, many slices of cheese made on production lines lack the taste and flavor of those made using traditional methods.
There is a growing demand for ‘authentic’ food today as more people realize the benefits in terms of flavor. Though many handmade foods are a bit more expensive, the reward in terms of quality and taste is hard to beat.
What’s the Difference Between Mass Produced and Artisanal Cheese?
Most cheeses you buy in supermarkets are mass-produced, with the exception of deli counters. Adding slices of processed cheddar to your lasagne or Welsh rarebit can taste very bland once you’ve tried handmade cheeses.
Processed cheese is made using methods that are both efficient and time-saving. Many cows aren’t fed on fresh pastures and kept inside barns. Around one in five cows never get to graze outside at all, and fed on a diet of cereals with added supplements.
Cheese made with cows fed on cereals won’t have the same taste as those allowed to graze outdoors. Artisan cheesemakers only use cows that feed on fresh pasture. Most farmers know their own herd very well and have complete control over what they eat.
Great care is taken to ensure a quality product. In many cases, only handcrafted tools are used, and recipes followed are those handed down through generations. Every part of the process is done by hand and only small batches are created at any one time.
Why Environment and Type of Milk Used Makes a Big Difference in Taste
It’s not only milk from cows that is used to make artisan cheese. Goat and sheep milk is used as well. Evan buffalo milk is used by some cheesemakers. The type of milk used in creating the cheese, and the type of pastures dairy animals graze on creates a unique taste and appearance.
The change in season can affect the taste of artisan cheese. Cow’s milk has its lowest levels of fat during the summer months. It also has the highest amount of carotene which gives the cheese a yellowy tinge, and earthy taste.
Artisan goat’s cheese has lower levels of lactose with a distinct tangy flavour. Cheese made with sheep’s milk contains higher levels of fat. It has a sweeter taste compared to other cheeses.
How is Artisan Cheese Made?
As previously mentioned, artisan cheeses are made using traditional methods. No artificial colourings or preservatives are added. Most milk you buy goes through high temperature pasteurisation. This not only kills harmful bacteria, but vitamins as well. Artisan cheese makers use milk that’s either raw or pasteurised very slowly at a low temperature. Cheeses made with raw milk are aged for 60 days. This ensures bacteria such as salmonella are killed off.
Rennet is added to thicken the cheese, and sometimes herbs are added as well. Once the curds are formed, they’re cut into individual pieces and are either pressed or placed in cheese molds.