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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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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

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Our Friend Kristen who came to see us and Brytec for advice with setting up her new dairy

Mexican Cheese Made in Peckham Launches

From the Speciality Fine Food Magazine 11/6/13
Urban dairy launches new cheese

An urban dairy is launching its own Mexican cheese. Gringa Dairy, which is housed under a railway arch in Peckham, South London, has produced a soft cow’s milk cheese is the style of a Mexican cheese which is not dissimilar to Feta.

The dairy, one of only a handful of businesses producing cheese in London, is the brainchild of Californian-born Kristen Schnepp, who makes Gringa Dairy Queso Fresco using organic milk sourced from a farm in Kent.

Schnepp, who left Berkeley five years ago after pursuing a career in marketing and business strategy, says, “We at Gringa Dairy aim to bring the delights of Mexican cheese to the UK shores. With an increase in the availability of quality Mexican food but a lack of imported dairy products from Mexico, we feel that now is the perfect time for us to provide authentic Mexican cheese to food lovers across the country. Gringa Dairy fuses our love of cheese with our passion for Mexican cuisine.”

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It’s Going To Be A Nice Day Today – my Pigs Said So

Another gratuitous picture of Penny Pig

Another gratuitous picture of Penny Pig

Unlike Linda Evangelista, my pigs get out of bed for two things: food and sunshine.

Yesterday, we were told that temperatures were going to reach 30 oC.  Like hell they did!  Is the weather as well as most other things utterly south and London-centric?  It was grey, wet and generally miserable yesterday until about 3pm until the sun dared to show itself.

Today, however, when normally Penny Pig and Snouter don’t get

Another gratuitous  picture of Snouty

Another gratuitous picture of Snouty

up until well gone midday, at 8am, my pigs had dug themselves a nice hole in the earth to make themselves comfy and had settled down, big, fat, soft pink bellies exposed to the beginnings of what might a potentially hot day.  Will it be a scorcher?


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Stage 1: Ripening

The large vat filled

The large vat filled, being stirred by Stu  and ripening

Once the milk is pasteurised (or not as the case may be), we heat it to between 32 -33oC depending on what we are making and we add starter culture which determines the taste, texture and characteristics of the cheese we are making.

The main microbiological purpose of the starter culture is to turn lactose, milk’s natural sugar in to lactic acid.  It is this that we measure during the cheese making process using an acidity meter – see the picture below right.

Our acidity meter

Our acidity meter

It is a little known fact that most hard cheeses contain very little lactose and therefore no carbohydrate.  My cheese making book, Cheesemaking Practice by R Scott does not give any figures about the lactose content of cheeses, but that old stalwart, Wikipedia does and is reproduced as follows:

Dairy product               Serving size              Lactose content                Percentage
Milk, regular                 250 ml                                     12 g                           4.80%
Milk, reduced fat           250 ml                                     13 g                           5.20%
Yogurt, plain, regular   200 g                                         9 g                           4.50%
Yogurt, plain, low-fat   200 g                                       12 g                           6.00%
Cheddar cheese           30 g                                       0.02 g                        0.07%
Cottage cheese             30 g                                       0.1 g                           0.33%
Butter                              1 tsp (5.9ml)                         0 03 g                        0.51%
Ice cream                       50 g                                         3 g                            6.00%

Some starter culture contains bacteria that produces carbon dioxide which produces bubbles to make cheeses such as Emmental.  It is possible to make your own starter culture, although we do not, we use commercial phage resistant starters from Danisco and Hansens which ensures consistency.  Ripening may take between one and two hours depending on what we are making.

And finally, one thing I have learned is that if after your ripening period, your milk is not sufficiently acidic, you will not get a great set and it may take quite a while to set.  I have also learned that it is vital to alternate starters to avoid phage.  We buy our starters from Orchard Valley.


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We, like a lot of dairies in our area, use a Nottingham based company called Wheyfeeds to take our whey away.

In all honesty, if they did not take our whey away, we would have a real problem.  We used to give it away to a pig farmer who came down from Bishop Auckland, but with increasing diesel costs, it became uneconomic for him, which was a real shame for us too, as I liked the fact that it was being recycled and being put to good use.  I also enjoyed hearing tales of chief piglet Mathilda and her baby piglets.

The Ribblehead Viaduct near where I live

The Ribblehead Viaduct near where I live

I met a Wheyfeed tanker driver on Sunday, before I headed up to the shop.

He was tucking into a well earned bacon and egg butty whilst I was chatting to my friend who runs the little van that parks up by the Ribblehead junction that sells the bacon butties.  We got chatting and he turned out to be a driver I hadn’t met before, so it was nice to say hello.

One thing he said that really struck a chord: for the amount we are charged to take away each 1,000 litres, he said he could travel 2 miles in his tanker.  Now that put things into perspective!


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Tidying the Cold Room – Before and After

Lydia is very particular about keeping the cold room clean and tidy.


Before, yesterday afternoon before going home

Before, yesterday afternoon before going home

So am I and so is Stu but together we cringe when we abandon cheese straight out of the press in to it, all nicely vac packed, knowing that Lydia will be cross with us.


Or when we have all done a big hand waxing session, and there is no room on the shelf to put things, we abandon freshly waxed, labelled, bagged and boxed cheese on dollies.


There are days when Lydia walks in and we both apologise for the state of the cold room.


Here are some before and after pictures.  One is yesterday before going home and the other is today.  Lydia and I took 30 minutes to tidy it

After - this morning, left hand side

After - this morning, left hand side

and to put everything away on its proper shelf where it belongs!

After, right hand side this morning!

After, right hand side this morning!


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