What is Raw Milk Cheese and Why Should You Eat It?

What is Raw Milk Cheese and Why Should You Eat It?

Have you ever crumbled off a chunk of classic Parmigiano Reggiano and wondered what made it so delicious? Well, one reason why this Italian cheese is so delightful is because it is made with raw milk. But what exactly does that mean? Raw cheese is made with milk that hasn’t been pasteurized or heated in order to kill off bacteria. Pasteurization can be beneficial since it can eliminate any potentially harmful pathogens, but it can also destroy native cultures that contribute to a cheese’s flavor, texture, and complexity.

When made correctly, raw milk cheese is safe to eat and can result in some of the tastiest and most traditional cheeses out there. That’s not to say that pasteurized cheeses are any lesser, we just think it’s time you try some raw milk cheese too.

Here are a couple of our favorite raw milk cheeses.

Parmigiano Reggiano

There are a lot of look-a-likes made in the United States masquerading under the shortened title of “Parmesan”, and these versions are usually pasteurized. The Italian original is rich with savory, umami flavors and crunchy crystals. It’s obviously delicious on pasta, but we recommend breaking chunks off of a wedge and pairing with Champagne.

Gruyère from Switzerland

You may have encountered this famous Swiss cheese on top of French Onion soup or inside a grilled cheese, but have you ever tried it on its own? With notes of toasted hazelnuts and brown butter, this classic cheese is delicious sliced razor thin and dolloped with onion jam.

Roquefort from France

Some say Roquefort is the original blue. Legend has it that centuries ago, a shepherd became distracted by a young maiden just after sitting down to a lunch of cheese and bread in a cave. He went after her unsuccessfully, only to return days later to some moldy bread and blue-speckled cheese. Upon tasting it, he fell in love with the punchy flavor—and Roquefort was born. While we don’t know if that legend is true, we do know that the herbaceous, spicy notes in this sheep’s milk beauty tastes lovely with Sauternes.


Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese (pictured above)

Made in the style of French Beaufort, this Wisconsonian is the most awarded cheese in America. Cheesemaker Andy Hatch uses only native cultures to make this firm, snackable cheese, resulting in notes of grass, sour cream, and melted leeks. Try it on its own, or pair with some salami for a perfect ploughman’s lunch.

Grayson from Meadow Creek Dairy

This American original is similar to Italian Taleggio, but it comes from Virginia. The bright orange rind is an immediate signifier of the pungent nature. Underneath, it’s much more mild with flavors of steak, leeks, and custard. Try it alongside a Belgian Dubbel: the sweetness mellows out the funk.

Bayley Hazen Blue from Jasper Hill Farm

Hailing from Vermont, Bayley Hazen is a fudgy blue similar to Stilton, which is actually legally required to be pasteurized by English law. This raw-milk, American version has deep earthy flavors and a slight fruity sweetness, similar to dark chocolate. We like it best with a juicy IPA, which teases out the tropical notes.

Reading Raclette from Spring Brook Farm

Another Vermont native, this firm, meltable cheese is modeled after Swiss Raclette, which is traditionally served heated under a special grill and scraped onto potatoes. It’s a wonderful melter, but it also shines on a cheese platter. Bring out the notes of onions and meats with a swipe of whole grain mustard and rye toast points.



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A list of all the upcoming cheese events and festivals you need to know about. Click the event title for more information and the ticket link.

January

Cheesemonger Invitational 
Monday, January 13
San Francisco, California  
The “Olympics of cheesemongering” returns. This event honors cheesemongers by putting them center stage in a unique competition that showcases their technical skills, encyclopedic knowledge, and passionate salesmanship. 

Artisan Dairy Food Safety Plan Coaching Workshop
Thursday, January 16 - Friday, January 17
Hartford, Connecticut
This coaching workshop is intended for Artisan Cheese and Dairy Food Producers who are preparing to create, or are already developing, a food safety plan for their facility. The goal of this workshop is to provide Food Safety Plan review and coaching sessions that guide attendees through each step in the development process. 

Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest
Saturday, January 18
Madison, Wisconsin
Meet and mingle with brewers and cheesemakers from around the state (and beyond) and sample hundreds of delicious creations in the midst of your bleak Wisconsin winter. 

Dairy Forum 2020
Sunday, January 26th - Wednesday, January 29th
Scottsdale, Arizona
IDFA’s Dairy Forum is the premier event for dairy food executives to connect with other industry leaders, advance their knowledge, and to discover new perspectives on issues that are important to our industry. More than 1,000 dairy leaders are expected to convene to explore, discover, and experience the POWER OF DAIRY. 

National Cheese Lover’s Day 
Monday, January 20
Everywhere
Celebrate the curd and enjoy some cheese! It’s the perfect excuse to indulge in an old favorite or enjoy something new.

February

Jungle Jim's Big Cheese Fest
Saturday, February 8th to Sunday February 9th
Fairfield, Ohio
During this highly anticipated two-day festival, Jungle Jim’s brings out the best and the brightest of the cheese and charcuterie world for visitors to taste, enjoy, and savor with expertly-selected beer and wine pairings. Family-friendly and crafted for enthusiastic amateurs, connoisseurs, and fanatics alike, the Big Cheese Festival is the premier event for fromagers everywhere!

Murray's Boot Camp
Friday, February 21st to Sunday, February 23rd
New York, New York 
Spend your weekend learning and tasting what we know best: CHEESE! Murray’s Boot Camp is for cheese enthusiasts and professionals alike who seek a strong (and tasty) foundation in the world of cheese.

Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance Artisan Cheese & Wine Event
Saturday, February 22nd
Seneca Lake Area, New York
Enjoy a self-guided tour around beautiful Seneca Lake. This event features intimate wine and cheese pairings at wineries, each serving their wines with cheese samples made by regional creameries from the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance, a nonprofit showcasing the area’s local artisan, family-made, farm fresh cheeses!  

Salon International de L'Agriculture
Saturday, February 22nd - Sunday, March 1st
Paris, France
For the last half a century, the Paris International Agricultural Show has been the annual meeting place for all the key players of the agricultural world. It is the leading agricultural event, not only in France but all around the world.mBreeders, local farmers, regions, professional organizations and agricultural professional syndicates, different ministries, research institutes : everybody contributes to present all the aspects of the sector and the perspectives of the evolution.

March

World Championship Cheese Contest
Tuesday, March 3rd to Thursday, March 5th
Madison, Wisconsin
The World Championship Cheese Contest is the world’s premier technical cheese, butter, and yogurt competition, hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.

Wine & Cheese Fest 2020
Sunday, March 8th
Melbourne, Australia
The organizers of Wine & Cheese Fest have worked very hard to earn the reputation as a premier Melbourne festival. This is largely due to continuously supporting local wine & cheese makers, and local producers of quality, boutique products. 

 

Oregon Cheese Festival
Saturday, March 14th to Sunday, March 15th
Central Point, Oregon
The Oregon Cheese Festival is a farmer's market-style event celebrating cheese and everything that goes with it.  Sample and purchase local, artisan cheese, specialty foods, beer, wine, and cider from over 100 vendors. 

 

Mould Cheese Festival
Brisbane, Australia
Friday, March 20th to Saturday, March 21st
Sydney, Australia
Sunday, March 22nd to Monday, March 23rd
Mould Cheese Festival is a celebration of Australian cheese, presented by REVEL in collaboration with Nick Haddow of Bruny Island Cheese. The best producers from around the country  will showcase their produce in a farmers’-market-turned-festival style setting, with bonus cheese classes and more. 

Boston Beer & Cheese Fest
Friday, March 27th to Saturday, March 28th
Boston, Massachusetts
It’s craft beer, cider and cheese…what more do you need to know? Boston Beer & Cheese Fest focuses on New England-made craft beers, ciders and cheeses. Attendees will have access to over 80 craft beers and ciders from 25 local breweries/cideries, as well as tons of cheese from 12 local creameries, and local charcuterie.

California Artisan Cheese Festival
Friday, March 27th to Sunday, March 29th.
Sonoma Wine Country, California
A weekend long celebration brought together by a lively and friendly group of experts and presenters from the wonderful world of artisan cheese. The festival promotes broad awareness of the artisan cheesemaking community and enjoyment of its products.


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