Raw vs. Pasteurized…does it matter?

February 18, 2009

 The Lady gets a lot of questions about which cheeses are made from raw milk and which come from pasteurized milk. This feline foodie decided to do a little digging around and find out more on the subject.

Back in the day (the 1940s), the FDA decided to do a study as to when the bacteria in raw milk died. Listeria was big back then and made humankinds ill, sometime resulting in death. The government (aka “The Rat Ass Bastards”…according to The Lady) feels part of its reason to exist is to “protect” the people…hmmm…the success of that is certainly open to interpretation…but I digress… Their study showed that most harmful “stuff” in milk died or at least lost its potency after sixty days. The sixty-day regulation was enacted and remains today.

What does this mean? If cheese is made from raw or unpasteurized milk, it must be aged for at least 60 days before it can be sold in the United States. If the cheese comes from pasteurized milk, then there is no time requirement as the heating of the milk will kill the bad “stuff”. By the way, no humankind has ever (and I mean never) died from eating cheese made from raw milk…not a single one…nada…ziparoo…one has to wonder if the reason behind recent vigorous enforcing of this law has to do more with competition rather than safety issues…I’m sure I am being cynical…

I am told that cheese made from raw milk tastes more like the grasses and area where the animals grazed and were raised. This reinforces the part that “terroir” plays in cheese making. The Lady wrote about terroir as a “guest” columnist for this blog. You can read her thoughts here.

For your convenience, we have comprised a list of some cheeses made with raw milk (this list will be updated from time-to-time):

Parmigiano-Reggiano Roquefort • Fontina Val d’Aosta • Swiss Gruyere ComteRogue Creamery Blues MorbierRaclette • Most English Cheddars • Pecorino Romano ManchegoIdiazabalCaerphilly (who cares…certainly, not I…) • Tomme de Savoie • EmmenthalFourme de D’Ambert TaleggioValdeon Blue • Valencay • Quicke’s • Beechers • Sally Jackson Cheeses • Grafton • Vella Dry Jack • Purple Haze • Tete de Moine • Vallee d’Aspe • Ouray • Beaufort • Zamarano • Ibores • Val Bagner • Prattigauer • Appenzeller • Abbaye de Belloc • Spenwood • Vermont Shepherd • Thistle Hill Farm Tarentaise • Cheshire • Trade Lake Cedar • Bravo Cheddar • Tomme Brebis • Ubriaco Al Prosecco

Also, to be sure, check the labels on the cheese. The label should state if the milk is raw or pasteurized.

Another tip, many creameries and Cheesemakers make both raw and pasteurized versions of the same cheese.

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