The Allure of Artisan Cheese
Did you know that the average American eats more than 30 pounds of cheese annually? With the abundance of locally-produced as well as imported artisan cheeses, is it any wonder?
Luckily for cheese-lovers, the U.S. is experiencing a rising trend in small, family-owned farms producing artisanal cheeses that wow the tastebuds and pique the interests of even the most accomplished cheese connoisseurs.
In fact, many American-made artisanal cheeses rival those imported from France, Italy and Spain and are coveted in restaurants and grocers across the country.
But what makes a cheese artisanal? Simply put, it's any cheese that has been hand-made in small quantities according to long-standing techniques, recipes and traditions. Artisan cheeses are usually marketed as specialty cheeses and they come in a variety of flavors and forms.
Farmstead cheese is another kind of artisan cheese that is produced on a farm using only the milk from the farms' dairy-producing animals.
If you've ever shopped for artisan or specialty cheeses, you may have noticed a wide variety of prices. There's a good reason for this. Just like any handmade product, artisan cheeses require special ingredients, equipment and training.
To the artisans, the cheeses they produce are like artwork. Furthermore, there are a number of expenses associated with the art of cheese making you might not be aware of, including fuel, licensing, equipment maintenance, veterinary care for the animals and so on.
If you're unfamiliar with artisan cheese, you might wonder if it's worth the money. Take our advice: it is! Spend some time exploring the specialty cheese section of your local market or try a cheese plate the next time you go out to eat. Artisanal cheeses are unlike anything you've ever tasted, and you're sure to develop a number of favorites over time.