For the fifth time and all over the world it is International Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day. The organisation Oldways Cheese Coalition stands behind.
What is raw milk?
When you make cheese out of raw milk, the milk is not heat treated (for instance pasteurized or thermised). In stead the temperature is kept at the level of the temperature of the cow which is around 37°C / 99°F.
Milk is from nature’s side filled with natural bacteria and microorganisms. Some of these are flavor-carrying bacteria and will add depth and complexity to the taste of the raw milk cheese.
Some bacteria can under wrong circumstances develop harmful bacteria and therefore we sometimes find restrictions on raw milk cheeses. Danish dairies for instance need dispensations from the authorities, and raw milk cheeses can only be sold in the US if they are matured more than 60 days.
Well known raw milk cheeses
You might not think about it, but many European cheeses are made of raw milk. Parmesan (parmigiano reggiano) and grana padano, comté and roquefort must according to their DOP / AOP be made of raw milk. Other cheeses can be found in raw milk or pasteurized milk versions such as manchego DOP and taleggio DOP. And yet others such as emmental, gouda, and cheddar can be found with or without DOP label and with both milk treatments.
Tingling on the tongue
Sometimes you feel a small tingling on the tongue when you eat raw milk cheeses, especially some of the more matured versions.
This is due to histamine which comes out when certain aminoacids (protein) is broken down during maturation. As the milk hasn’t been heat treated it contains more milk acid bacterias which produces this reaction. Histamine in small doses is no problem, it just gives you this delightful mouth feeling.
Raw milk cheese and tradition
Apart from taste, some people also connect raw milk cheese with culture and tradition as this was the original way to produce cheese before we began to pasteurize milk in the 19th century. In other words, raw milk cheeses is part of our gastronomic heritage.