Artisan cheese is always made in a traditional, non-mechanised way using only high-quality ingredients. The cheeses are produced in small batches using the traditional craftsmanship of a skilled cheesemaker who awards them plenty of care and attention.
Artisan cheese can come from any type of milk such as cow, sheep, goat or buffalo and most are aged and ripened to achieve optimum taste and texture. The maturation period dependents on the cheese type and can last from a few days to a number of years giving the cheese its rich complexity and intensity of flavour. Only then they are ready to enjoy.
The remarkable variety in taste and texture of regional artisan cheeses lies in the land and the types of local grasses healthy herds graze on. Artisan cheesemakers place a big premium on sourcing milk that directly reflects the unique local terroir and allows for richer, more complex flavours in the finished product.
They understand the importance of improving the biodiversity of their farms and keeping their herds healthy. So when you buy artisan cheese you are supporting more than just a quality product; you are contributing a much larger picture. One that improves local economies and the land they inhabit.
Tips for picking out artisan cheese:
- A natural rind. Waxed-covered cheeses are often commercially produced and won’t have the same depth of flavour and aroma as a cheese with a natural rind. Unfortunately some cheeses are taken out of vac-pack and wrapped in a cloth right at the end of their maturing, to deceive the consumer.
- Choose an unpasteurised cheese as it can only really be made on a small scale because the maker really has to know their animals well.
- Check the health mark (e.g. PN 011 UK) on the outside of a whole cheese as it will tell you where it was made or processed. You can look it up on the government website (https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/approved-food-establishments) to find out who actually makes it!
- Watch out for big brands and fancy labels which often use marketing terms designed to make the product appear as artisan (e.g. ‘cave-aged’). If the cheese is truly artisan it’ll have name of the farm and producer on the label.
- Purchase cheese from reputable cheese-mongers.