Raw vs Pasteurised cheese by Marcella Wright

Stilton (PDO) made with Pasteurized Milk

Here is an interesting discussion from American Marcella the Cheesemonger Raw, taken from her blog which can be seen here.

Pasteurized has been a topic of vigorous discussion in the US Cheese Community for decades. 2014 brought passionate discussions following new regulation interpretations by the US FDA. Many popular European raw milk cheeses were delayed or held indefinitely by US Customs, creating havoc at cheese counters… and annoying cheese lovers nationwide.

The controversy surrounding raw milk vs. pasteurized milk and other food safety issues, including the use of wooden planks in aging, reached a feverish pitch last summer. The result: a few French and Italian Cheese Producers simply stopped exporting their iconic cheeses to the US. Here at home, some small-batch Producers chose to stop production of theirAmerican Originals fearing the FDA would ban sales which in turn might bankrupt them.

Parmigiano-Reggiano (Raw); French Goat Brie (Pasteurized); Stilton (Pasteurized); Sleeping Beauty (Raw)

At one point during 2014, the list of cheeses unavailable or delayed by US Customs included Comte, St. Nectaire, Bleu d’Auvergne, Morbier, Raclette, Forme d’Ambert, Tomme de Savoie and Mimolette (due to “Mite infestation”).

For the 2014 season, Andy Hatch, Owner of Uplands Cheeseand maker of Pleasant Ridge Reserve, chose to not make his lush, seasonal Rush Creek.  In an August 2014 press release Andy stated, “It’s disappointing news, I know, and we hope that it’s not permanent. Food safety officials have been unpredictable, at best, in their recent treatment of soft, raw-milk cheeses, and until our industry is given clear and consistent guidance, we are forced to stop making these cheeses.” (Please read Cheese Underground’s posting for more information on Any’s decision.)

Andy’s decision followed another controversial FDA questioning the use of wood planks for aging cheese (Questioning it food safe). Using wooden planks for aging is almost as old as cheese, but the FDA, in its quest to save us from ourselves, attempted to change the rules. Public and cheese community outcry caused the FDA to back-off… at least temporarily.

To produce and sell raw milk cheese in the US, the FDA requires raw milk cheese be aged a minimum of sixty days. Otherwise, cheese must be made from pasteurized milk.

In asking questions of Cheese Professionals for the 2015 series of interviews I posed the following:

“Raw vs. Pasteurized? Does it matter? What difference does it make in the final product?”

Here are a few of their thoughts on the subject (Bios of each Professional are available by clicking on their names):

Chelsea Faris ACS CCP

Chelsea Faris ACS CCP™:If your dedication is to quality and the perfect flavor profile, it shouldn’t matter one way or another. Dedication to understanding the terroir, your animals and the recipe is what’s most important in making a glorious cheese. It’s about being original. Do what makes your cheese taste the best.” 

Kehau Monteiro ACS CCP™: “I enjoy both but I do find that unpasteurized

Kehau Monteiro ACS CCP

cheeses do have a tang that pasteurized cheeses do not have and they tend to be more flavorful. I love the idea that unpasteurized cheese is sort of the mother’s milk of cheeses. There’s so many health benefits to unpasteurized cheese.”

Sue Sturman, Director, Academie Opus Caseus

Sue Sturman: Director, Academie Opus Caseus: “Cheese made from pasteurized milk can be outstanding, there’s no doubt about it. The raw milk thing is a far more complex issue….we Americans tend to be such reductionists, wanting to distill complexities down to simplicities, and it just doesn’t work that way. Nuance!!!  Raw milk is a philosophy, it’s about biodiversity, about attention to detail, about hand-crafting, about variability and adapting to what the milk presents.  Raw milk products really are different, but the difference is not only or always evident in the sensory analysis.​”

Iris Busjahn ACS CCP

Iris Busjahn ACS CCP™: “There are virtues of both that are fantastic.  It all boils down to if the product is made well, the cheese will sing.”  

Bill Stephenson: Director of Cheese Training, DPI: “It totally matters. I have participated in consumer research on this question and can honestly say that as far as preference goes, it depends on the cheese. I have had examples of cheese where I preferred the pasteurized milk version and examples where I have preferred the raw milk version. But there’s no doubt that it matters, particularly insofar as there is definitely a difference.

Bill Stephenson, Director of Cheese Training, DPI

“Obviously, the heart of the difference has to do with the native microflora of the raw milk which are eliminated by pasteurization. Since by its very nature cheese is a product of microbial fermentation and ripening, it should come as no surprise that cheese made with different microbiological inputs result in different cheese outputs.

“Pasteurization produces a cheeses with a texture that is less firm than its raw milk counterpart and lacking in the amount and diversity of proteases that would be present in a raw milk cheese due to denaturation of proteins during pasteurization along with a lesser concentration and diversity of microflora. Cheeses made from pasteurized milk are also less flavorful than their raw milk counterparts, again due to the differing concentration and diversity of microflora.

“None of that necessarily points to whether or not cheeses made from raw milk are “better,” but they are undeniably different. And if seasonal variability and terroir are of interest, raw milk cheeses have it and pasteurized milk cheeses lack it.

“If safety is a concern, consider that a regulated system that promotes milk pasteurization tacitly (and ironically) allows for poor raw milk quality since pasteurization will be expected to clean up the mess, whereas a regulated system that promotes raw milk production must necessarily have high standards for milk cleanliness. We’ve seen some pretty terrible examples of widespread food borne illness from pasteurizers that were not well looked after during operation that subsequently let through dirty milk into the general public.

“Furthermore, because pasteurized milk lacks the native microflora of raw milk it is a more vulnerable target for unwanted microbiological growth (pathogenic or non-pathogenic) while the native microflora in raw milk functions as a protective barrier to unwanted microbial growth. Lastly, it’s important to bear in mind that cheeses made from pasteurized milk are responsible for the majority of all food borne illnesses associated with cheese, so outlawing raw milk cheese out of a concern for safety may be something of a red herring.

Lisa Futterman ACS CCP

“So yes, raw milk cheeses are fundamentally different from pasteurized milk cheeses and it will be a shame if the FDA moves toward eliminating our choice for raw milk cheeses either by outlawing them altogether or creating an overly punitive regulatory framework that serves to disincentivize the producers. When the animals, the milk, the cheese making and handling are all well looked after, there should be no reason why we can’t continue to produce raw milk cheeses safely in this country.”

Lisa Futterman ACS CCP:  “I am very influenced by my intensive trip to the Jura*. Raw milk cheese tastes better, more complex, and are much more terroir driven.”

Jeanne Carpenter, ACS CCP

Jeanne Carpenter ACS CCP™: “There are lots of outstanding cheeses being made in both categories. I’m not a raw cheese snob. Show me a cheese with excellent flavor and a good story, and I will sell it. Period. ”

*In 2013, Lisa won the Comte Scholarship to visit France’s Jura Region and spend a week touring and learning about the production of Comte.

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 include Cheesemakers, ACS CCPs™,Cheesemongers and Cheese Professionals and Experts who contribute to this Wonderful World we call “Cheese”.

List of all Interviews from 2013: Cheesemakers, Cheesemongers.

List of 2015 Cheese Professionals.

List of all Cheese Professionals Bios.

Please “Like” MarcellaTheCheesemonger Page on FaceBook.



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The Specialist Cheesemakers Association Dougal Campbell Bursary 2015

This is a £1,000 bursary, open to new and existing cheese makers, closing date 20th March 2015  

The SCA Dougal Campbell Award and bursary is open to both existing and aspiring cheese makers in the UK. The sponsoring organisation (the SCA) is especially keen to receive applications from young entrants and from existing milk producers who are seeking to expand into specialist cheesemaking. Applicants do not have to be a member of the SCA, but is it advisable.


Entry Form

The SCA has broad and inclusive membership, principally but not exclusively producers in smaller dairies. Our key principle is to provide support, (in the form of information, networks, advice) and guidance (in the form of technical and legislative advice) to continually aim to produce best or better cheese in England, Scotland and Wales. We promote best practice and encourage experimentation and product improvement. We equally support new entrants and aspiring cheese makers as well as more established businesses.

In keeping with these aims the SCA has made available a new SCA Dougal Campbell Cheese Award.  This will be is a bursary of £1000 payable to the winner, but as important, it comes with the support of the SCA in the form of a complimentary ticket & sponsored accommodation to the SCA farm visit, presentation of work at the farm visit (optional) and a report in the SCA Quarterly Newsletter.

About Dougal Campbell

Dougal Campbell was a pioneering figure in the world of farming, and the founder of Welsh Organic Foods, the first specialist organic cheese making company in Britain. He learned the skills of cheese making in the high Alps of Switzerland, using milk from cows that grazed on the herb-rich pastures of the Alps. Inspired by this, cheese making developed into his life’s work.

Dougal brought his skills to a small holding near Lampeter in West Wales, where he established a small 15 cow dairy herd and developed an unpasteurised hard cheese, Tyn Grug. His cheese gained national reputation and made him a leading figure in the renaissance of farmhouse cheese making. Dougal was a founder member of the Specialist Cheese Association (SCA) and a member of the Soil Association Council.


The SCA Dougal Campbell Award and bursary is open to both existing and aspiring cheese makers in the UK. The sponsoring organisation (the SCA) is especially keen to receive applications from young entrants and from existing milk producers who are seeking to expand into specialist cheesemaking. Applicants do not have to be a member of the SCA, but is it advisable. Membership details can be obtained here: http://www.specialistcheesemakers.co.uk/join.htm


How to enter

Please complete the entry form overleaf and return by Friday 20 March 2015 and send to: Sian Oliver-Gay, Specialist Cheesemakers Association, 17 Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DP

Email sian.oliver-gay@provtrade.co.uk

The winner will be announced by the end of March.

If handwriting, please complete your form in BLOCK CAPITALS


Organisation/Farm (if applicable)


Are you an existing cheesemaker?

If yes, what cheese do you currently produce?



Please submit 500-1000 words in the form of a sustainable business case how you plan to use the bursary to demonstrate effective use of the money.  This applies equally to new or existing cheese producers.



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Better Late Than Never

Hello blog peeps – sorry, it has been a long time!  But a belated Happy New Year to everyone reading this and I will try harder to blog more frequently.

A lot has happened!  A new year, 2015!  I am sure, though this could be showing my age, that when I was little, 2015 seemed such a long time away that it was almost space ageish, but here we are.

Award winning goat curd

Award winning goat curd

A quick recap of the second half of last year saw us winning another gold at Nantwich for our goat curd, making it two golds on the trot for two years, of which we are very proud.  One of our new cheeses (Gouda Gold) won three gold stars, got into the Top 50 at the Great Taste Awards and were put forward for the Golden Fork award.  I was invited – and went- to the award ceremony dinner in London.  It was very swish and a massive honour and I made a new cheesey friend: Sarah also a goat cheese specialist who owns and runs a Shropshire based cheese making firm called Brockhall Farm.  I also discovered that Wholefoods, High St Ken stock our cheese as I was staying close by and wandered in for a look at the cheese counter.  We picked up a few new customers which is always a good thing and I have been out and about on the road a fair bit.

We now make four natural rinded cheeses, two goat, one sheep and an unpasteurised Wensleydale.  Part way through the year, our landlords Phil and Amanda sold our unit to another landlord.  Nothing has changed, just a change of ownership, life goes on and business is as usual.  I went to meet our new landlord yesterday, taking the train from Ribblehead Station, which is my nearest station on the Settle to Carlisle line.

About the same time I started to blog less, I started tweeting which rather took my attention away from blogging, which is a bit a of a shame and I do feel bad about

Train from Ribblehead to Leeds yesterday, 22nd Jan

Train from Ribblehead to Leeds yesterday, 22nd Jan

it.  Then new label regs came in which has been very tedious!  And then we were audited, only we weren’t,cos it was called off at the eleventh hour, it was a fair bit of work, though on the plus side, it did make me tighten up some of our procedures.  For example, we now test all of our milk deliveries for antibiotics instead of replying solely on supplier assurances.  Stu bought a new Android phone and I followed suit, not that I know how to use it.  And Pipsqueak, Stu’s dog has a new microwaveable pillow for the winter and is, as I type, tucked up under a puffa jacket and on top of her nice, warm pillow.  I checked, they don’t make them big enough for pigs.  Penny and Snouter are both completely fine and well, though more than a little bored with the weather.

In November, I went down to London to help at Brytec’s stand (our equipment suppliers) who were exhibiting at the Farm Business Innovation show, Olympia.  If we had been either hot tub purveyors or gypsy caravan makers, I think we would have done a roaring trade.

We have been plagued with problems with our forklift and eventually, a couple of weeks ago, this January, we ‘forked’ out for a completely new set of batteries for it and now it is happy again and working really well.  It is amazing what you use forks for!  Lifting milk, shifting pallets of cheese about, taking pallet deliveries of boxes and wax  off wagons and so on.

This January has been a ‘let’s buy’ month.  As well as getting the forks fixed, I have bought new blue cheese cloths, more goat curd pots, more boxes, more weight ticket labels, more wax and attempted to buy more moulds, but our moulds have been discontinued and the newer version (we received a sample) are too deep and don’t press well.

This was the beginning of the snow in January 2015

This was the beginning of the snow in January 2015

Christmas happened, came and went and then snow, which has been very trying and not fun at all.  But we had a good trading Christmas, thank goodness and although Januarys’ are known to be fairly dull, it’s not been too bad for us so far.

Two of our cheese class alumni have gone into commercial production: Simon at Weardale Cheese and Chloe from Halifax.  Congratulations to the pair of you – am very proud of you both and hope 2015 brings you all that you wish for.

There are some cheese class dates for Feb to April here.

Wishing everyone fantastic things for 2015!



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Can Anyone Provide a Kind and Loving Home for Roxi and Butch (pigs)

Today I was going to go to Leeds to investigate the possibility of eyeing up carpet for upstairs, hey, why not, after eight years in semi-derelict squalor, but instead I did something far more exciting and besides, there’s a bit more work needed before carpets can go down.

I drove to Gisburn Forest to meet with Stephen and Teresa and their beautiful piggies, Roxi and Butch.  I found out about them from Twitter.

Roxi to the left and Butch to the right

Roxi to the left and Butch to the right

Roxi and Butch are pretty famous, don’t you know, they have had a book written about them.  They were bought for £1,000 each by a couple in Brighton, sold on the pretext of being mini pigs.

Ok, people, there really is no such thing as a mini pig – they grow and grow.  And this is what happened to poor old Roxi and Butch until eventually, two years ago, they were given to The Great British Farm Project to care for and love.

I went to see them because my heart went out to them and I really wanted to take them home with me, but on finding out more about their characters: Butch, the boy, is a big old softie and Roxi, the girl who can be grumpy like Penny Pig, but these grumpy moods go away when they get to know, trust and love you.  They are five years old and are partial to the odd jam sandwich as a treat.  Snouter, however, being a bossy, dominant male (with large and razor sharp tusks) may just be too much for Roxi and Butch, so it was a very sad and very sorry and very reluctant no.

Although their exact pedigree/parentage isn’t known, I would guess that Roxi is a Kune Kune crossed with Vietnamese Pot Bellied pig and Butch is a Vietnamese Pot Bellied pig.  Compared to Penny Pig and Snouter, they are quite small, but they still probably weigh in the region of 100-120kgs a piece.  Butch has been castrated.  They are pets and will only be re homed as pets.

But now, they urgently need to be re-homed, in the next week.  They will need a paddock or smallholding to root around in and they do not like straw in their ark.  Can anyone give them a loving home?  Please contact Stephen on 07538 213685.

I do hope that someone can give them a home and carry on loving them as they deserve.

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Tuesday Person Wanted to Help Us Wax Cheese

Stu waxing two cheeses at a time

Stu waxing two cheeses at a time

As readers of this blog may know, we spend our Tuesdays waxing cheese.

Our current Tuesday lady, Stacey will be leaving the area at the end of June with her children to join her partner, who is not very well, in Bradford.

This leaves us with a bit of a gap, so if anyone knows anyone who can work Tuesdays from 9am til 3pm and fancies their hand at a bit of cheese waxing, please get in touch: ionahill@gmail.com

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The Last Couple of Weeks at Ribblesdale Cheese

It has been a very busy couple of weeks.  Business wise, we have had both a good April and a good May which has been great, to be busy.  We have been making goat cheese twice a week and I have been practicing some

My latest NPD

My latest NPD which is actually, even though I say it myself, quite edible

potential new cheeses.  Maybe I am not very experienced, but it amazes me that it is possible to make such different cheeses from the same starter but using different techniques.

Our goat curd is going from strength to strength and we seem

Little pillows of Goat Curd

Little pillows of Goat Curd

to spend a disproportionate amount of time potting and bagging it up, but it is all good stuff and I don’t mind, even if it is terribly time consuming, it’s great to get it out there!

The highlight this week has to be winning three silvers at the British Cheese Awards, for our goat curd, natural rinded matured goat and our aged gouda which I am thinking of calling something like Gouda Gold – what do you think?  Mind you, we only managed to get our entries in by the skin of our teeth, because I forgot…

Another highlight was scoffing Stu’s dad’s rather lovely

Our Goat Curd Silver certificate 2014

Our Goat Curd Silver certificate 2014

banana cake – thank you Mike!

I had a great road trip the other Tuesday, to Scotland.  My internet at home has been very intermittent in the last few months, (partly why little blogging) which caused a bit of a problem, for, when I sat in my car outside my house at 7.30am tapping in the postcode of my destination, the sat nav would not accept it and I had no internet to find an alternative.  So, after a little swearing, I thought there was nothing more I could do other than point the faithful cheesemobile northwards.  I knew I had to aim for Edinburgh, so I headed up the M6 and followed the signs to Edinburgh and somehow, quite out of character, I found the industrial estate I was aiming for with no trouble at all, no getting lost, most out of character.  The journey passed surprisingly easily, I listened to Radio 4 and my ipod thingie which streams music through my radio.

southWhilst I found the industrial estate, I drove around for 15 minutes looking for the right place only to be stumped – typical, hey, I get there without sat nav or maps but cannot find an industrial unit until I noticed a Cheese Cellar van.  Aha, I thought, follow that van and sure enough it took me to the door.  Excellent!

I had a great meeting with some lovely, enthusiastic and knowledgeable people.  It was a pleasure to meet them.  We had a good cheese tasting session and I was treated to a look around their cold room – wow, some fabulous cheeses in there and I hope ours will join them.  Coming back, I tapped ‘Home’ into the sat nav which told me to turn right after 3.4 miles.  Hhhmm.  It was considerably more than 3.4 miles when I realised that the sat nav was no longer talking to me.  In fact, it had died.  Not only that, I was not going back on any route I remembered, the radio wouldn’t work and my ipod gizmo had also expired.  Almost 50 miles later after having driven up and down a mountain pass with zero villages, towns or any obvious landmark, just forest and a helpful sign saying River Tweed, I finally reached the motorway and mysteriously joined the M74 2 junctions further down than I had got off coming up.  I have no clue where I had been, still don’t, but that less than enigmatic sign saying ‘South’ was a very welcome relief.

We had a great two day commercial cheese making course.  It was intense, but I enjoyed it because the four people all had a great deal in common and all were some way down the road to starting their own dairy, which is exciting, not to mention life changing – good luck to Becky, Chloe, Sophie and James and I look forward to hearing how they each get on.

Our annual EHO visit is booked for the middle of June so that is one to tick off.  Hope not to forget it this year!

Other things that have happened include sending for the doctor again for the forks as its little rubber feet had come apart, making it hard to manoeuvre, so Ray the forklift mender came from Darlington and ministered to it.  We had a ratty man visit and I am trying to plan our dairy expansion which is proving very tricky.  I have asked for some help from a very experienced cheese maker friend who is so busy we haven’t yet been able to meet up, but it’s one of those things that I know I cannot do by myself and I am afraid of not doing it properly.

Our Natural Rinded Matured Goat Silver certificate

Our Natural Rinded Matured Goat Silver certificate

In brief, I have bought a boiler to generate steam and an oil tank to feed it.  We plan to convert to using steam to heat a new large  vat and our new pasteuriser.  We are going to have to rearrange all of our dairy equipment (again!) to make best use of the space and possibly move the dividing wall between the dairy and the wholesale area.  It’s a really big job and to be honest, I am dreading the upheaval, installation and commotion.  In my experience, it’s when you change things that things start to go wrong so we are going to have to be extremely careful to maintain our routine and quality.

We also had a visit from one of our larger customers, in person, so we were very honoured; it was a pleasure to meet with him at our place.  I showed our guest one of my new product development trial cheeses (pictured above) – and he liked it and said he would take it!  Yay!  So I have to start scaling up and perfecting it.

I have had a hideous time getting quotes for more labels.  I asked for a quote from 12 companies.  Seven replied and quotes ranged from 3.3p per label to 12.1p.  It was a 50/50 mix between digital and old fashioned plate printing, for the first timeI have opted for digital, so it will be interesting to see if there is a difference in quality.

I started a Twitter account which allows me to have conversations with people I don’t know, but would like to.  I

Our Aged Gouda Silver Certificate

Our Aged Gouda Silver Certificate

am a real newbie so am probably not doing it very well, so it’s early days.  Our Twitter is: @RibblesdaleC.

Thursday was a really busy day, some end of month orders, which is great, but very pushed to get them out in time and a funeral to go to.  Stu came in for half a day to cover for me which was very noble as this week has been a holiday week for Stu.

The major lowlight was the death of our part timer Andrew’s step dad, Dave aged only 48: too soon and too cruel.  The funeral was on Thursday with an amazing turnout and a lot of lovely shared memories to keep thoughts alive.  My thoughts are with Dave’s partner Heather,step son (our) Andrew and Dave’s mum and dad.

Friday, I was scheduled to do a cheese tasting at a customer of ours, but my car died, right outside my front door – it simply would not start.  I felt awful about letting our customer down, not to mention piles of cheese samples, clean apron and Ribblesdale Cheese banner languishing in the back of my car.  Yesterday, Monday, my faithful cheesemobile was returned to me, with a new battery but no radio.  I would rather have a functioning car, though but how to get radio 4 back?

Let’s see what June brings us!


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Two Places Available for a One Day Goat Milk Home Enthusiasts Course Thursday 5th June

We have two places left for a one day home enthusiasts course on Thursday 5th June if anyone is interested.

We will be using goat milk – but it handles the same as cow’s milk – no difference between the two

Thursday 5th June 2014 using goat  milk

Start time is 8.15am, bring clean shoes that you do not mind getting wet or clean wellies and a notebook if you want to take notes.  We will provide whites and hairnets and all equipment.

The cost is £125 +VAT = £150 and you will take home your cheese for further pressing.  During the day, we will discuss the science behind cheese making, common pitfalls, cheese safety awareness, the various steps to hard cheese making, answer any questions you may have and you will be able to help make a larger vat of cheese if you fancy it.

We hope to give you enough knowledge and confidence to make decent cheese safely at home.  We always hold cheese making classes at the same time as making 1,900 litres of goat cheese in our large vat so it can be interesting to compare small makes to large makes – it is the same process.  Goat milk handles in exactly the same way as cow’s milk for anyone wondering!

We should finish at about 2.30pm, but you are welcome to stay on for a brew and watch or even join in the rest of the cheese making in the large vat.  If you need somewhere to stay, we recommend Cocketts Hotel in Hawes, but here is a link to Trip Advisor on all Hawes B&Bs and hotels.

If you are interested, please e-mail Iona at ionahill@gmail.com

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