Question: What are the conditions that a cheese cave should have in order to make it a successful cave and does 'cave-aged' cheese really make a difference?
Find out in the next Artisanal e-newsletter!
- The Artisanal Staff
Last Time We Asked: We see many cheeses made with mixed milks; is this something new and what is the goal in that cheese making practice?
Answer: You must have milk to make cheese, and to make a superior cheese you must have superior milk. Dairy animals have their lactation cycles and they are not continuous, although in many cases the lactation cycles can be staggered somewhat. Some of the younger fresher cheeses, which have smaller windows of peak stages of ripeness, may only be available every once in awhile. For the more aged harder varieties that have much larger windows of peaks these type cheeses will more often be available in fine form throughout the year. Yet even those cheeses will taste best if they are produced from the best milk available.
The milk quality is dependent on the vegetation that the dairy animals have available, as well as the climate, water, and other conditions. For the dairy animals that have short lactation cycles, the staggering of the cycles will make the milk available over longer stretches however the milk profile will depend on what the vegetation is like. It is one thing to stagger the lactation cycles of the dairy animals but it is more difficult to make the plants grow out of season. It is a constant challenge to the cheese maker to insure that there will be a cheese of consistently high quality from one part of the cycle to another, not just because of the availability of the vegetation, water, and climate, but also because of how the ratios of fats and proteins change in the dairy animal's milk throughout the cycle.
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