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What’s the difference between unpasteurised and pasteurised cheese?

When you receive a pasteurised cheese in your cheesebox, the milk used to make it has been heat-treated to eliminate bacteria and provide consistency in the making process (any cheesemaker worth her salt and cultures will tell you cheese can be a bit of a diva).


Unpasteurised or ‘raw milk’ cheese, where the milk has been left with all its natural bacteria intact, is more common in small-batch, artisan cheesemaking, as the process is more painstaking and the results less predictable. It’s these natural bacteria that are said to give a cheese its characteristic terroir, or ‘taste of place’, as the microflora contained in the milk made to use it are unique to the pastures of a particular farm.


But wait! Using unpasteurised milk is just one factor that can go into making a world-class cheese, the most important being the skill of the cheesemaker and how a cheese is treated all the way through from pasture to maturation room. Pasteurised or unpasteurised….when it comes to which is “better”, we have firm favourites in both camps.


All this talk of bacteria may sound a little scary, but rest assured that makers of raw milk cheese have full confidence in the quality of their milk and farming practices (and so do we!). If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s advised to steer clear of unpasteurised soft cheese unless it’s thoroughly cooked through (baked Baron Bigod, anyone?). Ask your doctor for advice and always follow NHS guidelines.

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