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Pasteurised or Unpasteurised?

We're often asked what is the difference between pasteurised and unpasteurised cheese and, in a word, the difference between them is heat! The unpasteurised (raw) vs. pasteurised conversation is one that includes science, history and controversy, but when it comes right down to it, personal preference is what is most important.

If a cheese is made with raw milk, it means it’s made from milk which is collected and at some point transferred directly to the cheesemaking vat.  If instead it’s made from pasteurised milk, it means there’s an additional step between the collection and the vat where the milk is heated to a specific high temperature for a certain amount of time.  The purpose of pasteurisation is to ensure the safety of the cheeses.  Is raw cheese therefore dangerous?  No, but raw milk and dairy products can carry a potential risk to consumers if they contain harmful bacterial pathogens, and since these bacteria are susceptible to heat, treating the milk to heat prior to cheesemaking can basically ensure that none of those harmful bacteria are present in the cheese.

So why doesn’t all milk get pasteurised?  Well, there are definitely reasons why a cheesemaker would opt to use raw milk instead, and these include cheese quality and consistency. It’s important to note here that cheesemakers get a choice as to how they provide safety to consumers. The vast majority of those illnesses preceding pasteurisation were due to consuming raw milk, not cheese made from raw milk, which is not the same thing. Another reason why some cheesemakers opt for raw milk and why some consumers opt to purchase raw milk cheeses, is for the potential nutritional benefits that come from unpasteurised products.  While the potentially harmful bacteria get destroyed during pasteurisation, so also do some of the theoretically good bacteria, along with some vitamins and minerals.  Of course, this isn’t to say that pasteurised milk cheeses aren’t nutritious - they certainly are.  They just don’t have quite as much of the good stuff as the raw milk cheeses.

Which brings us to the last, and perhaps most important, point of all: personal preference.  You could read all the science and history behind pasteurised vs. raw milk cheese (and trust us, there’s a lot out there) but when it comes down to it, you might just decide that following your inclination would be best. You might find that more of the cheeses you prefer are made with pasteurised milk… or alternatively unpasteurised... or you like (or even dislike) some of each...

Whatever you decide, we’ll have something for you to enjoy.