One of the hottest food trends right now is eating raw. So what about raw milk cheeses?
This may be to your surprise, but it’s likely you are already eating raw milk cheeses. For hundreds of years, traditional European cheese recipes have used only raw milk. Often you will find that raw milk cheeses are sharper and more defined in taste. That’s because when milk is heated or pasteurized, much of the good bacteria (which create the rich flavors in cheese) are killed. In fact, certain cheeses are only legally certified if made with raw milk, such as Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano. France’s AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) and Italy’s DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) define the region, production and maturation process for many European cheeses. Though less common, you can also find raw milk cheeses produced in the United States.
So let’s get tasting!
You will be pleased to find a large selection of raw cheeses at Mollie Stone’s. Chelsea “The Sausalito Cheese Lady” helped us pick out some stellar raw cheeses to taste:
Truffle Pecorino Moliterno, Sheep Raw Milk, Sardinia
This cheese looks exquisite and resembles marble. The texture is quite firm which is common of raw milk cheeses. The veiny marble look comes from the black truffle. This Moliterno is full-bodied and packed with intensity from the truffles, which could almost be described as spicy. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
Cave Aged Gruyere, Cow Raw Milk, Switzerland
Part of the Swiss family, this Gruyere is aged for a full 12 months in Swiss caves. It’s packed with fruity, nutty and grassy flavors. The best part is the wonderful crunch that comes from crystals made of calcium deposits, which form during the aging process. It’s one of the rare cheeses that holds its flavors when melted, making it perfect for topping French onion soup!
Parmigiano Reggiano Export, Cow Raw Milk, Italy
The “Parmesan” we’re all familiar with on our pizzas and pasta dishes originated from this “King of Cheeses”—Parmigiano Reggiano. To hold the official name “Parmigiano Reggiano”, it must be produced in the provinces of Parma, Reggio-Emilia, Modena, or parts of Emilia-Romagna. All other generic “Parmesans” are not protected nor controlled by Italian law. This firm cheese delivers fruity, sweet, nutty notes with a pleasant crunch from the crystals similar to those we encountered in the Gruyere. It’s not only great for garnishing your dishes—try it on a cheese platter with some fresh grapes.
Northern Gold Gouda, Cow Raw Milk, USA-California
Producing raw organic cheeses in the United States is definitely a labor of love (the US govt. isn’t a fan of raw milk) so we’re beyond appreciative that there are dedicated artisans that provide us with great American cheeses. This organic Gouda-style cheese has a robust nutty taste with fruity and smoky notes. This creamy semi-firm is ideal for spreading on crackers.
Nicasio Reserve, Cow Organic Raw Milk, USA-California
Interestingly, the Nicasio Reserve started as pasteurized, but the makers have switched to raw milk a couple years ago. This classic Swiss-Italian mountain-style cheese packs rich creamy, fruity, grassy and nutty flavors. It is also a recent Gold medal winner at the California State Fair.
Meadow Creek Grayson, Raw Cow Milk, USA-Virginia
We saved the stinkiest for last. If you love stinky cheeses, this is the cheese for you. Oh boy is it pungent! People often describe it as smelling like feet but don’t let that scare you away because it’s filled with complex flavors. It has beefy, grassy and nutty notes with an earthy undertone. The semi-soft silky texture is divine. We recommend trying this stinky cheese with a French baguette and slices of salted fresh tomatoes.
Tell us in the comments below what your favorite raw milk cheese is!