A word about raw milk cheeses….

There’s a photo going around Facebook that has all the guns that are legal in the US on one side vs. all the French cheeses that are illegal here on the other. I almost reposted here but since I don’t want to talk about the gun debate, I’ll refrain.

Some French cheeses are illegal here because they’re made from raw milk and aged for less than 60 days. According to the US government that means they are rife with bacteria, some of which is potentially harmful or fatal.  Of course, Frenchmen aren’t keeling over from their raw milk cheeses.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that more Americans have died from gunshot wounds in the last 6 months than Frenchmen have died from eating their raw milk cheeses.

OK, OK…..

Max McCalman, our maître fromager, has a lot to say about raw milk cheeses and their safety.  In fact, he devotes a chapter of his book, “Mastering Cheese,” to the topic.  The chapter, “Raw Milk and Real Cheese” is chock full of information about raw milk vs. pasteurized and why raw milk makes better cheese.  It’s also safer according to Max – pasteurization allows producers to use milk that is older or of inferior quality.  Raw milk producers hold to higher standards and the milk retains its own natural defenses.  Raw milk cheeses offer even more safety features.  “Viewed from a food safety perspective, the cheesemaking process is nothing more than a series of steps aimed at preserving fermented milk in beneficial (and hopefully delicious) form.  In addition to their flavor giving properties, all those substances developed and/or introduced during cheesemaking – acids, salts, bacteria, molds – have preservative effects; they banish the pathogens and promote the ‘bennies.’”

But for now in the US we can only get raw milk cheeses that have been aged 60 days or more. That includes versions of some cheeses that have been aged for less time in their country of origin. There is a raw milk cheese lobby and for more info, you might want to take a look at:

Anyway,  I had a raw sheep’s milk cheese last night, the Torta Serena from Spain and it was divine.  The muesli bread added a little touch of sweetness to the creamy cheese and the sparkling white was perfect.

And that’s all I’m going to say about cheese for awhile…