3 Factors That Provide Identity to Cheese

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There are three main factors which provide identity or what you can call “personality” to cheese.

Their unique combination gives cheeses a distinctive identity that sets them apart from cheeses produced elsewhere.

Climate and Landscape of the Place

The climate and landscape of a region play a significant role in shaping the flavour and quality of its cheese.

The type of vegetation that grows in an area, as well as the minerals present in the soil, have a direct impact on the flavour of the milk produced by the animals that feed on them.

This, in turn, affects the subtle flavours of the cheese made from that milk.

Minerals present in the soil also affect the flavour and quality of cheese. Minerals can influence the speed of ripening, the texture, and the flavour of the cheese.

For example, calcium is known to contribute to a more open and porous texture in cheeses such as Swiss Gruyere or Emmental.

On the other hand, magnesium gives Cheddar its characteristic firm texture.

Soil composition can also affect a cheese’s flavour profile.

For instance, cheeses made in regions with high iron content in their soils tend to have a stronger flavour than those made in areas with lower iron levels.

This is due to the fact that iron affects bacterial activity during cheese ripening, which contributes to flavour development.

Climate also plays a role in shaping a cheese’s identity.

The temperature and humidity levels during both the growth cycle of vegetation and during cheese ripening can impact flavour development.

For example, warmer temperatures tend to produce sweeter-tasting grasses, which result in sweeter-tasting milk – and ultimately sweeter-tasting cheese.

Conversely, cooler temperatures produce grasses with higher levels of bitterness compounds, leading to milk – and cheese – with a more pronounced bitter taste.

Check out how Traditional French Camembert Is Made-

Animal and its Grazing Habits

The animal and its grazing habits can give the cheese a unique identity. The type of animal and the climate it lives in can impact the flavour of the cheese.

For example, cows that graze in lush valleys will produce milk that is richer in flavour than cows that graze in dryer areas. The breed of the animal can also be a factor.

The breed of the animal can also be a factor. Some breeds produce less milk but with larger fat globules that give the cheese a richer, smoother texture.

Others, like the Montbéliarde cow, are known for producing milk with a sweet, mellifluous flavour.

The way an animal grazes can also impact the flavour of the cheese.

Browsing animals like goats will produce cheese with a more herbaceous flavour, while animals that graze on grasses and flowers will produce cheese with a more mellifluous flavour.

Microclimate

The microclimate of both the milk and cheese room plays a pivotal role in giving the cheese its unique identity.

The milk is home to many different types of bacteria, which are responsible for converting sweet milk sugar, lactose, into lactic acid.

This fermentation process is what gives the cheese its distinct flavour.

In addition, the tiny, colourful molds and yeasts that are found in the cheese room contribute to the final taste and appearance of the cheese.

Each batch of cheese is unique due to the combination of different microorganisms present in the milk and cheese room.

This results in a wide variety of flavours and textures that are not possible to replicate with pasteurized milk or starter cultures.

The complex flavour profile imparted by the microclimate is one of the key factors that sets artisanal cheese apart from mass-produced varieties.

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About Linda Walker

Linda loves anything creative, whether it be arts and crafts or cooking for her friends and family. She loves nothing more than a good netflix binge, especially thriller ones. She's a bit of a night owl, and is usually up until the early hours of the morning working on her craft projects. She lives with six pets who are all her furry children.

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