Types of Cheese
We specialise in artisan cheeses. The artisan cheese is generally made on a very small scale, using milk from a limited number of local farms, or optimally, solely from the farm on which the cheese is produced. It should be made with very little mechanisation, relying on the knowledge and skill of the cheesemaker who can understand the subtle changes within the milk that occur from day to day. Cheese made on a more industrial scale, although often good, lacks the subtlety, variation and character of an artisan cheese.
Cheeses can be categorised in a number of ways, all of which can / should be used to create a balanced and varied cheeseboard. You have the five styles of cheese as used in our ‘SHOP NOW’ section; hard, soft, blue, rind-washed and fresh.
Milk Type is one of the most commonly used methods of choosing a cheese. Cows’ milk cheeses are the most abundant, but are now accompanied by a plethora of fine goat, sheep and buffalo cheeses which are made in any style. Every milk has its own strong characteristics in terms of flavour profile and fat content and put together can create an exciting and diverse cheeseboard.
Milk composition analysis, per 100 grams
Country of Origin is more and more pertinent as a way to chose or theme your cheese selection, as the number of countries making good cheese and exporting to the UK increases. In addition, the UK itself is now one of the top cheese producing countries in the world, actually making more varieties of cheese than France. Our fact sheets will also specify in which region of the producing country the cheese is made.
Pasteurisation does not have to be a decisive indicator for many people of the cheeses they choose, as it is possible to get very good examples of both. However, the purist sense of an ‘artisan cheese’ is that the milk used should be raw, i.e. unpasteurised as the process of pasteurisation can destroy many elements of the milk which give a cheese complexity and superior flavour. Unpasteurised cheeses are not unsafe as the careful selection of farms, hygienic milking practices and adherence to enforced stringent Food Safety systems ensure that there are no pathogens in the milk, or that they are in sufficiently small quantities so as to pose no risk to the consumer. In addition, many of the aspects of cheesemaking naturally limit the ability of pathogens to multiply, such as acidity levels, drying, salting, and the effect of benign bacteria.
Current government advice regarding the consumption of cheese by pregnant women is summarised as follows:
Any cheese with a white bloomy rind, such as you would find on Camembert and Brie should be avoided, whether pasteurised or not, as they carry a small risk of Listeria.
Any cheese with blue veining such as Stilton or Roquefort should be avoided, whether pasteurised or not, as they carry a small risk of Listeria.
Hard, matured cheeses, whether pasteurised or not, are considered safe to be eaten within pregnancy.
Whether the cheese is vegetarian or not can also be used to categorise a cheese. This is determined by the rennet that is used; rennet being a body of enzymes that coagulates milk to form curds and whey. Traditionally, rennet is produced from an extract from the lining of a calf’s stomach. This is a by product and calves are not killed specifically for their rennet, but nonetheless, means that traditional rennet cheeses are not vegetarian. There is an enzyme commercially made to mimic the effect of rennet which is vegetarian, and this is used more and more in cheese making, most commonly in British cheese. Some people say that the taste of the vegetarian substitute can be slightly bitter, but we believe it is possible to find some fantastic cheeses that do not use traditional rennet.
You will find that often we put the initials PDO or PGI next to a cheese name. This is because to protect a named food or drink against imitation throughout the EU, legislation has been introduced to protect these on a geographical or traditional recipe basis. It is similar to the familiar 'appellation controllee' system used for wine. The scheme highlights regional and traditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed. We have introduced the scheme's logos onto all labels, where applicable, to enable you to easily recognise the authenticity of the products you are buying. The following two titles appear on our website:- Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). Open to products which are produced, processed and prepared within a particular geographical area, and with features and characteristics which must be due to the geographical area. Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). Open to products which must be produced or processed or prepared within the geographical area and have a reputation, features or certain qualities attributable to that area.