One of the more distinctive features of alpine cheeses is the size of the wheels. Not all of them, but many, are exceedingly large. Due to the size of the wheels they are able to do something called corrections. Sometimes when the cheese is aging it will form cracks and you can detect these cracks by banging on the wheel and listening. The sound of the banging will change when there is a crack present. If there are cracks near the edge of the wheel they can carve into it and scoop out the cracked area, thereby correcting it and salvaging the rest of the wheel. Continue reading
I remember when I was a child I used to think that blue cheese was gross because it had mold in it. At that time I didn’t know that cheese is basically the controlled spoilage of milk, meaning there is mold on all of it! The difference with blue cheese is that the mold spores inside the cheese are exposed to oxygen and thus they turn blue instead of staying white. There are various different mold spores that can be added to create the bluing, however the majority of them these days are made in a lab and shipped out to cheese makers. Originally blue cheese was made from spores on moldy bread (which is where they idea that blue cheese is not gluten-free comes from, I assume). These days nobody has time to use moldy bread so people with Celiac Disease can enjoy blue cheese as much as everyone else. Continue reading
Goat’s milk cheese is the easiest out of all three (goat’s, cow’s, and sheep’s milk) types of milk for humans to digest. This is because the fat globules are the smallest in goat’s milk, because goat’s milk contains almost no casein, which is the main protein allergen that is in cow’s milk.
Similarly to sheep’s milk, goat’s milk is not produced year round, because the goats usually graze in the pasture, which is not available year round. When the pasture comes in during the spring months is when goats begin to produce milk. The difference in the pastures and the areas in which the goats feed, also known as terroir, give the cheeses different characteristics. Pasteurization, however, tends to homogenize the finished products, making them less distinctive than their unpasteurized counterparts. Continue reading
One of the most important aspects of sheep’s milk cheese making is called transumanza, which is the transferring of the herds from the mountains to the valley pastures. Shepherds will take their animals up to the higher altitudes because the pastures are wilder there, and then back down into the valley pastures. The things that the sheep eat in each pasture are reflected in the milk produced so you can get a lot of variation if you choose, or you can combine milk from several different pastures to get a more even result. Most farms will milk the sheep two to three times a day, then the resulting milk will be combined to produce a more consistent cheese. Continue reading
In reality, what education would be complete without a course on cheese? None, which is why I decided to take the cheese certificate class taught by Formaggio’s own Ihsan Gurdal. For the class we must journal about our experiences tasting all the wonderful different cheeses that are brought in, so here it goes! Continue reading