Global interest in cheese has never been higher with age-old artisan cheese recipes reappearing at an increasing rate all over Europe, USA, South America and Australia. Most of these are small independent dairies designed to meet the needs of a local community, but some are major international production sites. But what has prompted this increasing demand for the age-old artisan cheese? I would suggest two factors, first to the interest in new exotic new cheeses and second, the high demand in emerging markets such as China, India, Russia and South America.
The growing interest in artisan cheeses is not only proved by the year-on-year increase in sales but also in the ever enthusiastic multitude of cheese festivals around the world. And once a taste for cheese has developed, the passion for information about this beguiling subject is inexhaustible.
Cheese is both a simple product and an endlessly ponderable food. It is made from just milk and bacteria, and yet the spectrum of taste and aromas from a matured cheese can be wonderous and beguiling. How can such basic ingredients produce such an array of flavours? The answer lies in the small variations of the cheese making process as well as the terroir.
Terroir is a concept dating back to 14th Century France and is the belief that the land, the environment and the producer each have a unique effect on the taste of the product they are making. Originally, the concept applied first to wine, but over time cheese became part of terroir. Terroir also led to the Appellation systems of France, Spain, Italy and the EU whereby particular products from specific areas are “protected” by the governments creating standards unique to the product and the area where it is produced. Under the protected designations wine makers cannot produce a sangiovese wine and call it Chianti unless it is produced in Tuscany. Although the Pinot noir grape is used to produce wine in the Willamette Valley, the producers cannot call it Burgundy as that is a protected name for pinot noir produced in the Burgundy region of France. Ironically, the word terroir only came into existence in the late 1800s and was created as a marketing tool for the wine makers in France.
We wrote about the terroir on the Island of Pag in our previous blogs and how this effects the milk from the Pag sheep.
The Cheesemongers Weblog recently published the fascinating ‘8 basic steps to cheese making‘ aimed at giving you the knowledge and confidence to deal with your cheese monger. The information was taken from Max McCalam’s latest book, ‘Mastering Cheese’ where he used the work of Dairy Science professor Frank Kosikowski, the founder of the American Cheese Society. We thought it would be interesting to write how these basic steps are undertaken here at Sirana Gligora on the Island of Pag, where we make the award-winning limited production ewes’ milk cheese Paški Sir.
You can find more information on Paki Sir at www.gligora.com
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