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THE OLD HARTINGTON CHEESESHOP
01298 84935
Open 7 days a week
from 9am until 5pm or buy your cheese online anytime

Market Place, Hartington,
Nr. Buxton, Derbyshire.
SK17 0AL. CALL: 01298 84935
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Improve your Cheese IQ

POSTED: 1/11/2018 3:27:00 PM

 Artisan Cheese vs Farmstead Cheese

Farmstead cheese is cheese made from the milk of the cheesemaker’s own animals. This could be sheep, cows or goats. Artisan cheese is made in small batches, commonly by hand. Artisan cheese is made using only high quality and trusted sources. Farmstead cheese is artisan cheese however artisan cheese is not necessarily a farmstead cheese.

 

Open vat Cheese making

In the process of open vat cheese making, milk is poured into an open or uncovered vat. The cheese maker works over the vat like a chef stirring a pot of stew, the process is done entirely by hand. The cheese maker must use their years of experience and cheese knowledge to know when to continue into the next stage of the process. One mistake could ruin hundreds of pounds worth of cheese. For this reason many large cheese making suppliers rely on completely automated processes to avoid the hiccup of human error. Often from the moment that the milk enters the cheese making processor to having fully prepared and packaged cheese there has been no human contact made. This allows a consistent and generalised product. This process however does not allow for human alteration, this means where needed,  flavour or timing alterations cannot be made, often producing less flavoursome produce. Open vat cheese making allows the freedom needed to produce the most flavoursome cheeses. Often these two methods of cheese making are compared to making homemade bread and buying one from the supermarket.

 

Organic vs Natural

Natural cheeses are cheeses that are often produced with minimal artificial ingredients, chemicals, preservatives and other elements that would not naturally be found in cheese. Natural cheeses are cheeses that are as close to their original state if made without any of the modern world’s bi-products. The animals that produce the milk for these cheeses may be treated with anti-biotic but are always removed from the heard until they return to health and their milk is again pure of antibodies, ready to make cheese.

Organic cheeses are also natural cheeses, however organic cheeses come from the cheese maker being certified by a government approved certifier. These certifiers inspect the farm where the food is made, in this case where the milk producing animals are raised. The farmer must adhere to a set of strict rules that give them this certification above your standard non-organic milk producing farm. Organic animals must be fed organic feed and raised without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics. Companies involved down the production line who say they are organic must also adhere to similar rules within their type of work to be able to call their product organic.

 

rBST – What is it?

rBST or Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin is a growth hormone used in the production of cows to increase milk. This hormone was bought in around 2002 and used in almost 22% of cows. At current there are no tests available to distinguish milk from an rBST treated and untreated cow. Due to numerous health conscious consumers, rBST treated cow’s milk is boycotted. By regulating the source of the milk, it allows the control of maintaining dairy produce where rBST has not been used to maximise milk production. Many cheese makers use exclusive local or single herds of untreated cows.

 

Starter Cultures

Often referred to as friendly or starter cultures, they are added into the milk at the start of the cheese making process to change the milk sugar levels, in turn altering the lactose levels within the milk. When the cultures are added this turns the lactose into lactic acid, equalizing the pH of the milk which allows the milk proteins to form curds once rennet has been added. The cultures used by cheese makers are often a heavily guarded secret as they provide a substantial impact of each cheese’s quality and taste.

 

Rennet

Rennet is used in the process of turning milk into cheese. Rennet is an enzyme used to curdle milk; this causes clumps to form separating the curds from the liquid (whey). Traditionally rennet is added in after the cultures and again, this brings important flavours to the cheese. Previously rennet was sourced from the stomach linings of lamb, goat or calf’s but more recently, most rennet is being produced by deriving plants and vegetables.

 

Colouring?

In summer months cows, goats and sheep are allowed to rein and graze as they please, this allows them to eat anything and everything they want. This in most cases is a strong diet of vegetation fresh from the ground. This means when the milk is produced it has a slightly orange or yellow tinge. When in winter months and milk producers are inside due to the extreme weather conditions, they are fed from silos with a mixture of vegetation and silage. This changes the colour from the standard yellow/orange tinge over to a strong white colour. A natural seed pod called Annatto is used to dye cheeses where colour is inconsistent. This is mainly used by the big cheese manufacturers to increase consistency in their cheese products. Before annatto producers used carrot juice or marigold petals to get similar effects. These were stopped however due to a slight alteration in the taste of the finished cheese.

 

Different milk makes different cheese

With over 400 varieties of cow’s milk, cow’s milk cheese is the most popular milk used in cheese production. Due to cow’s milk having varied levels of fat content, the wide range of cheese that can be made using this milk is huge. Cow’s milk can be used to make aged and fresh cheeses including cottage cheese, mozzarella and crème.

Goat’s milk cheese is commonly known for its tangy flavour and white colour. When goat’s milk cheese is being aged, the tangy flavour vanishes with time and through comes a creamy and earthy tasting cheese. Goat’s cheese is the easiest cheese to digest out of the three types.

Sheep’s milk cheese is probably the least popular out of the three as it has a nutty, earthy and often gamey flavour. The colour of sheep’s milk cheese varies between white and yellow, this cheese is also easily digested.

 

‘Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey’

Curds & whey are all part of the cheese making process. When the rennet gets added the milk starts to separate the curds from the whey. When the cheese maker drains the curds from the whey, the more whey that is removed, the drier the cheese will be. Cottage cheese is a cheese that still contains an increased amount of whey over for example a drier cheese like parmesan. Little Miss Muffet was most probably eating a watery form of cottage cheese.

 

Waste products?

Once the whey is drained, depending on the production level of the cheese maker and how much whey is produced, some either dispose of this as waste. Some even collect the whey up and pass this onto other companies to produce whey protein powders and other healthy high protein products. Whey is also often used to mix in with pig feed due to its high nature in protein.

 

Fun fact's

10 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of whole milk cheese.

Most cheeses today are made from the milk of cows, sheep or goats. However, most milk can be used.

A turophile is somebody who is a lover of cheese, coming from the Greek word for cheese; Tyros. And lover; philos.

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