Celebrate Raw Milk Cheese!

rawWhile we appreciate all cheese, those made from raw milk hold a very special place in our heart. While we won’t make the argument that one is better than the other, we will say that the tradition and heritage of unpasteurized cheese is near and dear to our hearts. Having a whole day devoted to celebrating these traditions is important, not just because it helps expose the public to raw cheeses, it also helps to preserve and elevate the presence of cheese made from unpasteurized milk.

So, what is the deal with raw milk cheese? Let’s start with a brief history of cheese itself. Long before refrigeration, the need to preserve liquid dairy was a necessity. It ensured that nothing went to waste, and there would be food available during the times of year (winter) when it was not possible to yield crops. Cheese making is essentially caloric preservation. By removing some of the liquid from milk, condensing it, and through various aging techniques, we were essentially able to control the spoilage of liquid dairy, allowing the final product (cheese) to be consumed with little fear to human health.

What’s the deal with pasteurization?

As agriculture became increasingly more industrialized and centralized, there was an increase in foodborne pathogens. This created a huge risk top human health, and because products like cheese were shifting from farm production to factory production, there was a need to ensure that the final product was homogeneous and fit for human health. Essentially, when we pool liquid dairy from a bunch of different farms into a central processing facility, there is a much greater risk for contamination than just processing the milk on farm. Pasteurization was applied to cheese and liquid dairy (named after the French scientist Louis Pasteur.) This process essentially raises the temperature and keeps it there long enough to kill anything that might be harmful.

So, what’s wrong with pasteurization?

Well, this question is tricky. The short answer? Nothing! Pasteurization is good in the sense that it keeps the milk and cheese that we buy at the grocery store from getting us sick. However, when talking about small cheese makers, pasteurization can be quite harmful for a number of reasons. First, we have been making and consuming these cheeses for hundreds of years, with incredibly scant amounts of sickness. In many foreign countries, these traditions are protected, and certain cheeses MUST use raw milk. In the US, there is a move to increase the limitations and regulations on these cheeses, which would result in the loss of many of our favorite old world favorites from making it to the states. The second issue that many argue that raw milk is an expression of the farm. This milk contains a microbiological community that is unique to the farm on which it is made. By killing these microbes with pasteurization, we are essentially killing the elements that make these cheeses special.

So, now that you know a little more about raw milk, make sure to visit your local cheesemonger and celebrate Raw Milk Appreciation Day with us!

Nina Kaufelt talks Kraft Singles and Real Food

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By:Nina Planck Kaufelt

Nina Planck Kaufelt is the wife of Murray’s Big Cheese Rob Kaufelt. She is a writer, blogger and mother who has dedicated her work to helping to decode the jumbled world of nutritionism.  This is a post from her Facebook that was posted in response to the Kraft Singles labeling controversy. 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has decided it doesn’t really want to tell parents that Kraft singles – a cheese-like product – are good for children. I WOULD say, “too little, too late,” which might be said about many professional dietician organization decisions on the relative merits of real and industrial food over the past half century – such as margarine, “heart-healthy” (sugary) breakfast cereals, the suggestion that children over two drink skim milk to prevent heart disease, a recommendation lacking any basis in science, or the advice that Greeks give up olive oil in favor of corn oil (they really did, according to a new book by Nina Teicholz) – but I have a forgiving nature.

Anytime a professional group stands up for its integrity, however mildly, against Industrial Food is cause for celebration. It IS good to see the Academy urge plenty of high-quality calcium for children, for these small persons must grow entire skeletons. Calcium is not readily found in kale, friends. Try chicken soup, wild salmon (with bones), and full-fat, cultured dairy, instead. Remember that calcium goes well with the fat-soluble vitamins A and D, which are found in their full form only in foods of animal origin. That’s not vitamin A in collards and carrots – it’s beta-carotene, which your body has to make into vitamin A.

As for the half-perfect advice from the dieticians – I can live with that, too. It gives me something to do. Real food saints are too busy fermenting, ranting about raw milk laws, and talking about the perfect number of food miles per serving. I’d rather buy my lacto-fermented vegetables in a jar, drink raw milk when it’s convenient, and spend time with the sinners – the people for whom time and money matter. Hear ye, hear ye, sinners! Come home to real food. Start, sinners, by taking all phony and fractured foods (soy “cheese” and protein powder and liquid egg whites and non-fat yogurt) out of your pantry. Ruthlessly cut all corn, canola, sunflower, safflower, and soybean oil from the cupboard. It’s all rancid and oxidized and too rich in omega-6 fats. Make white sugar a tiny part of your pantry. See what’s left, eat that, and call me in the morning.

Celebrate Great Cheese! Murray’s Wins 2 Awards at the US Cheese Championship

award_winning_blogWe are so very honored to have just received two “Best in Class” awards for our Cavemaster Reserve cheeses  — Greensward and Hudson Flower — at the US Cheese Championships on March 19th in Wisconsin!

Greensward and Hudson Flower are two of eight Cavemaster Reserve cheeses, which are sourced from local cheesemakers and begin as young artisan cheeses before going through the affinage tradition.  Murray’s team tries various methods and special applications, determined by the cheese, including covering a cheese in herbs, or wrapping in brandy-soaked apple leaves, or washing in local beer, but most importantly, allowing time and attention to develop each cheese’s full flavor potential.

Greensward, bathed in cider and brine, is big and bacony, with a luscious, silky texture and notes of forest and resin from its tidy spruce jacket. Hudson Flower is more delicate with its coating of herbs like hops flower and thyme. Both are beautiful reflections of the flavors of New York state.

Stay tuned — we plan to introduce 3 new Cavemaster Reserve cheeses in the coming year!

 

Get Lucky With These Golden Irish Cheese & Beer Pairings

beerblogWhile it might just be a really good excuse to get a little too drunk, St. Patrick’s day is also a great opportunity to eat some Irish cheese. Don’t worry, we’ve included several beer pairings to make sure you try some funky new curds… while pounding down the cold ones!

Irish Cheddar:

Pinch free! Wrapped in green wax, this cheese couldn’t be more perfect for St. Patty’s Day. Irish Cheddar is an excellent translation of pastoral Ireland. It’s bright and tangy, slightly sweet flavor profile is perfect for the aficionado, or the cheese beginner. We pair this classic cheddar with a classic beer; go for a hoppy, floral IPA. The complexity of these beers will go perfectly with this cheddar’s easy flavors and creamy finish.

 Ardrahan:

Cows that graze on clover fields are simply destined to make fantastic Irish cheese. These wheels are funky! But remember, you can’t have funky without the letters f-u-n! The truth of the matter is that this cheese doesn’t just go well with beer, it craves it! We’d keep it local with the beers (it also goes really, really well with scotch and whiskey.) Try a Barleywine, or another traditional brew like Old Ale.

Cashel Blue:

300 years in the cheese making biz means that you must be doing something right. Cashel is one of the most voluptuous and creamy blue’s we have ever laid our paws on. It’s not super poignant; like Stilton or Roquefort. This guy is much mellower and smoother, perfect for those who are just adventuring into blue cheeses. Celebrate this fantastic Irish blue with a fantastic Irish beer! Go for a dry Stout with a thick, creamy head.

How Stinky Cheeses Get Their Funk

greenswardWe aren’t afraid to say it: we love the stinky stuff. The stinkier the better! But, how does a cheese get it’s funk? Well Matt Spiegler from Cheese Notes, one of the best cheese blogs out there, gives us the run-down on how these stinkers are made in this month’s Edible Brooklyn.

Matt brings up one of the most important factors in making a stinky cheese, the washing of the curd in booze. This is what gives this family of cheese its name — Washed Rind. Wheels of cheese are washed in many different styles of alcohol, ranging from beer and wine, to even absinthe and cider. While this does not necessarily impart the flavor profile of the booze, it does have some interesting effects on the rind of a cheese. It introduces a new set of bacteria and yeasts. As Matt explains:

The best known are the Brevibacterium linens, which impart red and orange hues and distinctive aromas — meaty, wet grass, broth, barnyard, even “gym sock” — to prized washed-rind cheeses like nose-searing Époisses or funky, custardy Taleggio. But not all washed rind cheeses are “stinky”; some range toward fruity, floral, pleasantly sour and yeasty; others might not even read as “washed” at first taste, so subtle is the influence.

Matt calls out some of his all-time favorite American washed rinds, and Murray’s was lucky enough to get a shout-out for our Cavemaster Reserve Greensward (pictured above)! This cheese starts its life as Harbison from Jasper Hill Farm, but comes to us very young, where we bathe it in booze and develop its orange rind. Matt describes Greensward as “rich, milky and meaty, with bacon and caramelized onion notes and a distinctly woodsy infusion from its time in the bark belt.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.