The Cheese of Choice Coalition is celebrating the first Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day April 18th; encouraging you to support raw milk cheese producers in the US, Canada and worldwide.
Here in the US, “Raw vs. Pasteurized” is one of those “hot button” issues among Cheese Professionals and Cheese Geeks… everyone has an opinion. The US FDA, which regulates cheese production and imports has a long-standing regulation commonly called “The Sixty Day Rule”: any cheese made using raw milk must be aged a minimum of Sixty Days. The FDA believes that any “bad” pathogens die around sixty days and therefore the cheese should be “safe”. If a producer uses good milk and good manufacturing practices, then that cheese should be “safe”.
Any cheese aged less than sixty days must be made using pasteurized milk.
To the raw milk and raw food enthusiasts, this law sits somewhere between annoying and downright draconian.
Their enthusiasm stems from the belief that when any raw food, including raw milk, if heated above 121°F, the “good” bacteria that our body needs is destroyed along with a lot of flavor.
One of the questions I posed for my 2015 Q&A Series with Cheese Professionals was:
“Raw vs. Pasteurized? Does it matter? What difference does it make in the final product?”
You can read the opinions of several Cheese Pros by clicking here. In addition to this round table discussion, other Cheese Pros have also weighed in: Max McCalman, Allison Hooper, Emmanuel Voissard, Sarah Marcus, Tia Keenan, Nathan Aldridge, Vanessa Chang, Marieke Penterman and Tim Gaddis.
And to finish my salute to Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day, here are a few other opinions from Cheese Professionals regarding raw vs. pasteurized:
- Adam Burstein ACS CCP™: I think raw is the way to go. Heating the milk kills most of that great flavor the cheesemaker worked hard to create. You lose the flavor of the grass the cow ate, the water he drank, and all the history and rich culture of the land.
- Dany Schutte ACS CCP™: Yes, in my mind it does matter. I do fall into the school of believing in terroir. I remember being in the room of a panel discussion at the 2006 Portland ACS, that discussed terroir in cheese. It was the first time I met the Feetes of Meadow Creek Dairy and thinking “yeah, cheese from Virginia. Right on”. It was one of the last times I got to listen to Ig Vella speak. Back to the question, I do think raw makes a difference, especially in farmstead product.
- Jed Asmus: Owner, Ewetopia Dairy: In practice, it matters. Pasteurizing changes the properties of milk, but not for the bad. You simply make a different type of cheese. We have a pasteurized product today, and are working on raw products down the road.
- Jessica Reichert ACS CCP™: Choosing raw or pasteurized is like choosing a favorite between my two kids. There is a place for both in this world. There are vast differences in the taste of the final products in my opinion but neither is better than the other.
- Kathleen Riegler: Owner, The Cheese Lady: We are careful to mark the raw milk cheeses at The Cheese Lady but it is only to alert those who are only eating raw or avoiding raw for health reasons. I am a huge fan of my wheels of raw Parmigiano Reggiano. In general my feeling is that raw milk cheeses offer us cheese the way it was intended
- Lenny Moonsammy: Sales and Marketing Manager, Bellwether Farms: I think it matters in the flavor.
- Michael Kalish: Co-Owner, TWC Consulting: My favorite cheeses make good content for this discussion: I enjoy pasteurized product (fresh goat cheese) just as much as raw product (gruyère), so I am not bothered by whether or not the milk has been pasteurized. However, I am sympathetic to very small businesses managing the cost of a pasteurizer. A pasteurizer costs enough money that if the money were invested in ingredient, product and environmental testing and pH/Aw monitoring, it is conceivable that a cheesemaker could achieve a similar level of confidence that his/her product is sane however, that would involve a serious and educated effort by a cheese maker and the support of his/her staff. Cutting big culture, manufacturing companies out of the picture would be great, and I would be supportive of an effort to safely cultivate day old whey and cultured milk as inoculants.
- Roger Olsen ACS CCP™: I think it matters absolutely. But I don’t think it is a black and white subject. I don’t believe that all pasteurized cheese is inferior to raw milk cheese any more than I believe all raw milk cheeses are inherently dangerous. I strongly support the movement to ease regulations unfairly targeting raw milk products and their producers.
- Shawn Pieper, Cheese Master, Murray’s Cheese Counter: Doesn’t matter in the slightest to me. I can’t call myself a cheese snob that can tell the difference that easily yet. As I said, I learn new things every day!
- Trevor Thomas ACS CCP™: Raw is preferred, but not always possible. I still will always search them out.
As for me, I support the raw milk cheese coalition (I am a member of the Cheese of Choice Coalition); however, I like Laura Werlin’s take on this topic. I’ll be sharing more opinions throughout 2015.
If you are looking for a raw milk cheese, check out my list of 250+ Raw Milk Cheeses. Many are available at select specialty cheese shops or online.
My thanks to everyone participating in my 2015 Virtual Q&A with Cheese Professionals. I hope all of you, my loyal readers, are enjoying this as much as I am…
Interviews will continue throughout 2015… sometimes, they will be “stand-alone” and sometimes they will be presented as round-table discussions with several Cheese Professionals answering the same question. Those participating includeCheesemakers, ACS CCPs™, Cheesemongers and Cheese Professionals and Experts who contribute to this Wonderful World we call “Cheese”.
List of 2015 Cheese Professionals.
List of all Cheese Professionals Bios.
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