April 20th is Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day!
Raw milk cheese is exactly what it sounds like. It’s cheese made with raw, or unpasteurized, milk. I like to compare eating these cheeses to doing the dirty bareback ( aka having unprotected sex): you experience so much more pleasure!
There are a lot of misconceptions and mysteries surrounding these sexy, complex cheeses. Let me help get some of your questions answered.
What’s raw milk?
Milk in its purest form: straight from the udder and unpasteurized.
What does “unpasteurized” mean?
Pasteurized milk is gently heated to kill off everything from pathogens to unique bacteria and native cultures.
Why should I eat raw milk cheese?
Because it’s tasty, unique, traditional, and complex. Raw milk has molds and enzymes unique to the farm where the animals graze.
When the milk is pasteurized, all that stuff dies and the cheese loses a lot of its individual character. Taste a raw French brie and a pasteurized American version side-by-side and you’ll see what I mean.
Does that mean that pasteurized cheeses kind of suck?
Not at all! There are a lot of incredible pasteurized cheeses out there, but if you limit yourself to just those thenn you’re missing out.
But isn’t raw milk cheese dangerous?
Not necessarily. I like to compare raw milk cheese to bareback sex. It’s so much more fun without a condom, but you have to know your partner very well. You can’t just do it with anyone, or you might get a disease. It’s the same with raw milk cheese: you have to know and trust the source.
But it’s more dangerous than pasteurized cheese, right?
There is a higher risk with raw milk cheese because possible pathogens aren’t killed off. That also means it has to be made with very high-quality milk by skilled, diligent hands. Contamination can happen with a lot of foods, including pasteurized cheese and even salad greens.
Is raw milk cheese even legal according to US law?
Yes, raw milk cheese is legal once it has aged for 60 days or more. Unfortunately, younger cheese types can’t meet this aging requirement. That means you won’t find raw mozzarella or brie in America, at least not legally. You’ll have to try those when you visit Europe, where regulations are way more chill.
Why does Europe get to have all the raw milk cheese?
Because Europeans cherish raw milk cheese. They’ve safely eaten it for centuries. It’s a part of their culture. In fact, some countries legally require that certain cheeses are made with raw milk. Their governments have special regulations to ensure the tradition is preserved
Can everyone eat raw milk cheese?
Some doctors recommend against raw milk cheese for babies, pregnant ladies, seniors, or anyone with an autoimmune disease.
Some hard cheeses like Emmentaler and Comté are as safe as pasteurized cheese, according to the Oxford Cheese Companion.
OK, I’m horngry. Where do I get some?
Find a local cheese shop and ask a cheesemonger to suggest their favorite raw milk cheese. Or just look for “raw” on the label at Whole Food’s or any other specialty market. You’ve probably eaten raw milk cheese before. Maybe you had Gruyére in a grilled cheese or some Parmigiano Reggiano on pasta. Those are both raw milk cheeses.
Then what do I do with it?
Once you get yourself some raw milk cheese, treat it right. Pour a good drink, bring out some crackers or your favorite jam. Maybe set the mood with some music and candles. Give it your full attention. Then treat yourself to the sensation of real, raw milk cheese loving.
Have another question about raw milk cheese?
Ask me in the comments below and I’ll get you an answer!
For more information about raw milk cheese, visit The Oldways Cheese Coalition’s website.