CHEESE FAQs

 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PASTEURISED AND RAW MILK CHEESE AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Raw milk has not been heat treated or pasteurised. It has all its natural bacteriological and enzymatic characteristics. Raw milk is not the same thing as unpasteurised milk – while all raw milk is unpasteurised, not all unpasteurised milk is raw. Pasteurised milk has been heated to a particular temperature, for a specific time, in order to kill off certain bacteria. While pasteurisation ensures the destruction of many of the pathogens that may or may not be present, it also strips the milk of beneficial and innocuous natural flora.

All of Britain’s territorial cheeses – Cheddar, Cheshire, Stilton, Lancashire, the Gloucesters, Wensleydale, Caerphilly, Red Leicester, and others now no longer made – were once raw milk cheeses.

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the microbes in carefully-produced raw milk play an important part in helping to ensure their safety as well as improving the sensorial properties of the cheese. Our suppliers often use milk from their own farms, thereby ensuring that they have total control over the quality of their raw materials. 

 

WHY DOES THE SOURCE OF THE MILK MATTER?

The height of what a cheese can achieve is dictated by the quality of the milk. When cheese is made by farmers, they have the opportunity to start their cheesemaking decisions in the pastures and their breeding programmes, and they see the consequences directly in the vat.

No milk purchasing contract, however specialised, can compete with this fine-grained control. In all of our signage and in our cheese descriptions online, we specify the source of the milk, to help our customers make informed decisions about what to buy.

 

WHAT MAKES CHEESE GO BLUE?

Cheese can be intentionally blue - cheeses such as Stilton have added blue mould spores within the body of the cheese. These moulds help to break the cheese down, and in the process they give it a stronger flavour and distinctive appearance. Sometimes other cheeses unintentionally develop blue mould. Norfolk Dapple is a good example of such a cheese.

Air can penetrate the cheese through the rind, allowing naturally-occurring mould spores to grow. There is no danger in eating blue which has developed in this way, just as there is no danger in eating blue cheese. We encourage our customers to taste the cheese and see what appeals to them on a case-by-case basis.

 

MY HARD CHEESE HAS BLUE VEIN IN IT - IS IT SAFE (AND GOOD) TO EAT?

Unlike cheeses that are aged in wax or vacuum packs, clothbound and natural-rind cheeses have permeable rinds, which allow oxygen exchange into and out of the cheese. One side-effect of this is that, if the cheese is bumped during turning or has natural crevasses within it, moulds can sometimes grow inside them.

Whether or not this is advantageous depends on the nature of the mould growth: brown or grey moulds, or a ‘bruised’ appearance within the paste, are unattractive and not good to eat; on the other hand a streak of bright blue through a Cheddar or Cheshire adds complexity and was once a prized addition to the cheese (known as ‘Vinny Cheddar’ or ‘Green Fade’).

 

HOW SHOULD I STORE MY CHEESE?

Farmhouse cheese is handmade and thus varies with each day’s production and changes as it matures. As such it is necessary to apply a common sense approach to cheese care and respond to the cheese you have in front of you, as opposed to following rigid guidelines.

We sell our cheese wrapped in waxed cheese paper, which achieves the best possible balance between maintaining humidity around the cheese and allowing it to breathe. If you wrap your cheese in cling film or foil, it can cause the cheese to sweat which will negatively affect the flavour.

Cut pieces of cheese should be kept in the refrigerator to slow the growth of mould on their cut surfaces. However, it is important to be aware that refrigerated cheese is more likely to dry out, particularly if it is not wrapped.

The best option is to keep the cheese wrapped in its waxed paper within a box in the fridge. The container will help to prevent the cheese from drying out and prevent the cheese from absorbing flavours

 

WHEN SHOULD I TAKE MY CHEESE OUT OF THE FRIDGE BEFORE SERVING?

It is very important not to serve your cheese when it’s too cold as cold cheese can taste bland and inert. As a general rule of thumb you should bring it out of the fridge a few hours before you plan to serve it. You should keep your cheese wrapped whilst it is coming up to room temperature, to avoid any risk of it drying out. If it is especially warm you should reduce the amount of time the cheese is out of the fridge accordingly.

 

HOW LONG WILL MY CHEESE LAST?

There are an array of factors which affect how long cheese will last, and so it is difficult to give a prescriptive answer without knowing which cheese you have,what size the piece is and what storage method you are usin

 

Best before dates on our labels are for guidance purposes only. For the most part, we expect these cheeses to be eaten within the next week or two. If you need your cheese to last, buy larger pieces as these last for longer. Buy it as close to when you want to serve it as possible (although if you are having your cheese delivered, also remember to allow for a few days leeway in case of delivery disruption).