It is interesting to watch eyebrows raise when one mentions ‘raw milk cheese’. At the shop this is most often an expression of great delight that we do, indeed, carry it. But sometimes it is surprise, followed by the question…”is it legal?”.
Raw milk cheese is made from milk that is unpasteurized. It is almost always made by small-scale artisanal cheese makers, and often comes from their own herd of cows, goats, or sheep. There is great care in both the health and well-being of these animals. This is the basis of good milk.
Throughout history raw milk has been the standard for producing most of the great iconic cheeses. It allows for well defined flavors, depth and complexity of nuances, and the unmistakable stamp of uniqueness.
With pasteurized milk, many naturally occurring and flavor producing enzymes (as coined the ‘good bacteria’) are destroyed or denatured by the heat of the process. The effect is that the cheese.. the end product.. loses the magical foundation of flavour. Also, like wine, raw milk echoes the music of the ‘terroir’.. of the grasses and herbs and the land itself,.. and these wonderful notes are also lost.
In Canada, raw milk cheese is perfectly legal and accepted by the regulatory bodies provided that the cheese is aged over 60 days. After this first two months, the acid level and the salt in the cheese prove unviable for potentially harmful bacteria. This time frame is a normal start point for the readiness of most cheeses. Many (such as cheddar) go far beyond and into the years.
Here at La Jolie we are happy to offer both raw milk (over 60 days) and pasteurized cheeses. The choice is yours. But please do drop by during the week of April 21st as we celebrate on “International Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day”.… and see if you can tell the difference!!