Sunday, May 14, 2017

What Makes A Cheese Artisan?

As soon as you start looking for cheese to enjoy, you will quickly notice that some is labeled as artisan and some isn’t. The natural question then becomes what exactly makes a cheese artisan or qualifies cheese as artisanal? The answer makes perfect sense if you think about the definition of an artisan: someone who makes crafts or other items by hand or using the old-fashioned techniques. Keeping that in mind, artisan cheese is made in smaller batches and mostly by hand. In other words, limited mechanization is used and the cheese isn’t mass-produced.
Types Of Artisan Cheese
Because the only requirement for artisanal cheese is that it be made in small batches and mostly using traditional techniques or by hand, there is an incredible range of artisan cheese available. The small batches are key since this ensures that the cheese is of a higher quality and extra care is taken. You can find cheese of any age, with any type of milk, and with various flavorings as artisanal. This means you can find artisanal cheddar, artisanal Roquefort, artisanal goat cheese, and everything in between.
While artisanal cheese can technically be anything, with any type of milk, and any aging process, it does tend to follow a few guidelines. This cheese will typically be incredibly high quality and usually unpasteurized as this maintains the original flavor better. If you find an artisanal cheese in the United States, however, this won’t be the case since the FDA regulations require that cheese must mature for at least 60 days as this reduces the contamination risk so there is no potential for health issues.
Who Are The Artisans?
A cheese artisan is simply the person who makes the artisanal cheese. This means that anyone who puts the extra effort into their cheese-making process and avoids using mechanization can be a cheese artisan. While most people will reserve the term for those who regularly make cheese and then potentially sell it, anyone who makes cheese in the privacy of their home and does so by hand will technically be a cheese artisan.
Not All “Artisan Cheese” Is Truly Artisanal
It is important to keep in mind that the terms “artisanal” and “artisan” related to cheese are not protected. This means that anyone or any company can actually claim that their cheese is artisan even if it is mass-produced and/or relies on mechanization for production. If you truly want artisanal cheese, the best option is to get it from a specialty cheese retailer as they will hold themselves to higher standards than another store, like your local supermarket. 

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