Everything you need to know about Raw Milk Cheeses
Italy never disappoints with its wide choice of cheeses. Different types of milk make a variety of cheeses and different flavours, and this is especially true when talking about raw milk cheeses. Many don’t know the true value of this Italian speciality, thinking that it being “raw” makes it unsafe, when in reality, being made from raw milk is exactly their best quality.
What makes raw milk cheeses so special? What are their benefits? Where to find the best raw milk cheeses?
WHY RAW MILK CHEESES
When the milk is not subjected to heat treatment it is called “raw”. Raw milk is a great added value for cheeses because the milk is processed at room temperature or around 38°C, allowing for the resistance of more proteins, vitamins, and calcium that would be lost with pasteurization.
But the difference is first and foremost in the taste. Raw milk cheeses have a more intense and diversified taste. The great taste is the result of the passion with which the production has been done locally and it involves the care of the territory and the animals.
With a mix of top-tier quality milk and good health benefits such as improving the immune system of both children and adults, raw milk cheeses are really a must-try Italian speciality.
One of the biggest differences between artisan and industrial production is that the latter never uses raw milk. Large companies prefer to work with pasteurized milk because it is easier to manage in terms of hygiene and has a more standard flavour.
On the other side, many small producers, in the name of quality, aromatic complexity, respect for ancient traditions, as well as animal welfare, use raw milk for their cheeses.
Raw milk cheeses are special because they strongly rely on local production, so each and every cheese has a different and unique taste. The flavour is intense and diversified according to the origin because the milk with which they are made contains all the characteristics of the territory: the water, the fodder, the grass of the meadows of the Alps.
Everything comes into play to make the final product.
Quality first and foremost. And raw cheese quality comes straight from pasture. Those who produce raw milk generally must pay more attention both to animal welfare and to the quality of the breeding.
Cheese is made of milk and it retains all its aromas and fragrances, for better or for worse. If the cows live in the open air, this means that all the flavour of the pastures, herbs and land where they freely graze can also be found in the cheese.
Furthermore, raw milk cheeses are known as more “natural”, and therefore of high quality, because they are made without industrial enzymes: they are made only with milk, salt and rennet.
3 RAW MILK CHEESES YOU MUST TRY
There are so many varieties of raw milk cheeses in Italy, that it is almost impossible to list them all. The most known is certainly Parmigiano Reggiano DOP (PDO), made only with raw cow’s milk, aged for at least one year: a historical product, and a symbol of Made in Italy food.
Castelmagno d’Alpeggio DOP (PDO) is a distinctive cheese made in Piedmont, with an intense, but delicate flavour, the scent is that of the high mountains, and the paste has a crumbly texture, which melts in the mouth.
This kind of cheese is not only produced in the north of Italy.
The Islands also have a great variety of cheeses to choose from: like Pecorino “San Leonardo”, a raw milk cheese made in Sardinia.
Pecorino is used in many traditional recipes and its intense and aromatic flavour is unforgettable.