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Commonly Asked Cheese Questions

What is the difference between Montchevre crottins and mini-logs?
Crottin refers to the shape only. Crottins and mini-logs have identical ingredients; both are made with vegetarian rennets. They are interchangeable, and are offered in the different shapes to meet customer preferences.

Why don’t we keep all the (goat/sheep/raw/organic) cheeses in the same place in the case?
Many customers have different preferences when shopping for cheese. We try to accommodate these preferences by providing informational signs and informational labeling. We have chosen to organize the case primarily by style of cheese (blues, Bries, cheddars, fetas, etc.), and occasionally by brand (Sartori, Belgioioso, Mount Sterling, etc.). The choice of organization was based upon the demands of the majority of our clientele.

Where is the cream cheese located?
At Willy West the cream cheese is located in the back left corner of the store, in the dairy department. It is on the top shelf above the butters, and in line with the bagels. There is also a small facing in the lower left part of the cheese case.

At Willy East the cream cheese is located directly across from the Juice Bar, with the other Deli and Grocery refrigerated spreads.

Why don’t we carry more varieties of organic cheese?
Qualifying for organic certification often requires more labor and resources than some of our small cheesemakers can afford. We try to carry as wide a variety as is available, without too much redundancy in products. That being said, if there are organic cheeses that you are aware of that we do not carry, let us know and we’ll look into bringing them into our store.

Why do certain cheeses sometimes carry brand labels and sometimes do not?
We often do not receive any brand labels, or often a limited number of labels. We’ll use what we have available, and then we go without.

Why don’t we carry Dreamfarm products year round?
The Murphys of Dreamfarm have a very small operation, and a very small herd of goats. Besides priding themselves on selling cheeses made from the milk of graziered animals, they like to give their goats a break during the winter months. This helps both goats and cheesemakers stay happy and lower in stress.

Why is the Cesar’s Mozzarella so much firmer than other fresh mozzarella?
Cesar hand pulls his mozzarella and does not pack it in brine.

What is the difference between Gorgonzola and blue cheese?
Gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese made in Italy with a living rind of flavor-imparting bacteria. Like many European cheeses, Gorgonzola has a reputation for quality that makes it much sought after. The Penicillium roqueforti in Gorgonzola is the same mold used in other traditional blue cheeses, oxygenated in the same manner.

Gorgonzola also has a slightly higher fat content, making it a richer, creamier cheese.

Why are there two very different types of cheeses labeled “farmer”?
Traditional farmer cheese is a fine curd cheese, similar to cottage cheese, and used frequently in Central and Eastern European cooking as a filling for blintzes, pierogies, and other sweet and savory pastries. The other type of farmer cheese that we sell is a low-moisture, part-skim semi-soft cheese similar to Monterey Jack. The naming convention for this particular cheese is a regional phenomenon of the Upper Midwest.

What is the difference between Italian and Danish fontina?
Both are great melting cheeses. The primary difference is in flavor, and that difference is enormous. Italian fontina comes from the region of Aosta, and is a washed-rind cheese with a very full earthy flavor. Danish fontina is a much lighter flavored, mild semi-soft cheese.

What is the mildest blue cheese?
This can be a bit subjective, but we think the Blue Paradise and the Gorgonzola are relatively milder, because of their higher fat content. We think the Danish Blue is somewhat sweet, and therefore also a little bit milder.

What is the strongest blue cheese?
Without a doubt, the locally made Tilston Point from Hook’s is our strongest blue cheese. It combines qualities of both an aged blue cheese and a piquant washed-rind cheese. It is very, very pungent and not for the uninitiated! The French Roquefort is also quite bracingly sharp and spicy.

What is quark?
Quark is a fresh fine curd cheese made popular in Germany. It is essentially a German regional variation of farmer’s cheese. It is terrific used in sweet and savory pastry fillings, but also wonderful eaten with fruit and granola for a delicious breakfast treat.

What is the mildest Brie (soft-ripened/bloomy rind) cheese you carry?
Almost any of the triple-cremes and double-cremes are relatively mild and buttery. Some have an added flavor complexity: the Delice de Borgogne has the subtlest hint of truffle; Fromager d’Affinois is more mushroomy. The President, Belletoile, Couronne and St. Andre are all rich, mild and buttery.

What is the strongest Brie (soft-ripened/bloomy rind) cheese you carry?
The strongest is undoubtedly the St. Albray, which has a distinctly pungent flavor. The Bent River and the seasonally available Rush Creek are distinctly beefy, brothy and oniony flavored like excellent traditional French Bries and Camemberts.

What is the difference between Camembert and Brie?
Camembert and Brie are both bloomy rind cheeses made from exactly the same recipe. Their differences arise from the distinct terroirs from which the cheeses originate, as well as the traditional shape: Camembert is usually a narrower, taller wheel; Brie is wider and flatter. Both of these differences end up making the cheeses taste unique. Camembert is usually stronger flavored; Brie subtler.

Which of the cheeses are made from the milk of humanely treated animals?
As of now, there is no clear standard for humane treatment, but cheeses that are graziered (meaning that the milk came from animals that were allowed to graze in open pastures) as well as cheese made from the milk of very small, farmstead herds are fairly reliably humanely treated. There are several cheesemakers that take pride in this aspect of their cheeses, including Uplands, Otter Creek, Saxon Creamery, Pastureland, Dreamfarm and Hidden Springs.

What are the differences between pasteurized, heat-treated, and raw milk cheeses?
Cheeses made with milk heated to 161ºF for 15 seconds, or 145º for thirty minutes or longer, are considered pasteurized by the Food and Drug Administration.

Any cheese made with milk that is NOT pasteurized can be legally labeled raw milk cheese by FDA standards, as long as it is subjected to a sixty day holding period before it is sold.

The American Cheese Society, however, defines raw milk cheeses as cheeses made with milk not heated above the body temperature of the animal it is taken from. Any cheese made with milk heated above that body temperature, the ACS defines as heat-treated. In our cheese department labeling we recognize and follow the more stringent ACS standard definitions.

How do I ship cheese? Will it be safe unrefrigerated?
This is a very subjective question. Good rules of thumb are: harder, lower-moisture cheeses like aged cheddar, aged Goudas, Romano, and Parmesan will hold up better and longer without refrigeration, when they are kept at a reasonably low temperature.
It is always better to ship in fall and winter because of the lower seasonal temperatures.

Opt for overnight shipping when you are able, as most cheeses can hold up reasonably well overnight without refrigeration.

Even with next-day or overnight shipping, we strongly recommend that the cheese be packed with frozen gel packs and in insulated liners. FedEx says that even with overnight shipping you can expectyour package to be in transit for about thirty hours.
If the service is available, have your cheese vacuum-packed. (We can do this for you at Willy West, but not at Willy East yet.)

However, these recommendations must be qualified. Cheese is a perishable, temperature-sensitive product. Once a cheese is out of your sight in the postal system, you have no way of knowing for certain what temperature changes it may have been subjected to; so ship cheese only at your own informed risk.

What’s difference between animal rennet and veggie rennet?
Rennet is a somewhat outdated, though still commonly used, term that refers to a grouping of two enzymes, chymosin and pepsin.

Animal rennet, or “traditional rennet” is derived from the stomach lining of young ruminants, the most widely available being calf rennet. The two enzymes occur naturally in young animals to keep their mother’s milk from passing too quickly through their system.

Veggie rennet, or “vegetarian rennet,” comes in a few forms:

  • Microbial enzymes, which are produced by the microbe Rhizomucor miehei, is a popular choice because they are considered vegetarian, humane, and can be kosher. Many cheesemakers that we work with use microbial rennet.

  • Fermented chymosin, another vegetarian option, is actually a microbe that has had the chymosin-producing animal gene inserted into its sequence.

Vegetable rennet is a vegetarian rennet made from plants like the thistle, fig tree, burdock, or nettles. This is not a very common coagulant, most often seen in traditional Spanish cheeses.

We are aware that many of our customers are concerned about the presence of genetically modified organisms in their food, and we are pro-active about bringing in cheeses primarily made with either animal rennet or microbial enzymes. Fermented chymosin is a very widely used renneting agent within the American cheese industry, and there is no standard from the government on labeling its usage as an ingredient. As faras has been possible, we have searched for products containing either animal rennet or microbial enzymes. As changes occur in labeling standards, we will keep you informed of this information.

Which cheeses are Low-Fat and/or Low-Sodium? Where are they?
Both milk fat and salt are critical components in the transformation of liquid milk to cheese. Items marked as reduced fat and reduced salt are often still relatively high in these ingredients, just not as high as most cheese. Right now, these cheeses are categorized on the shelf with similar styles of cheese, rather than in a section by themselves.

  • Cedar Grove Reduced Fat/Salt Cheddar

  • Jarlsburg Reduced Fat/Salt Swiss-style

  • Lifeway Farmer Cheese is naturally low in both fat and salt

  • Bharatma Indian Paneer is naturally low in salt

A good rule of thumb to follow is: the fresher the cheese, the higher the moisture content; and therefore, the lower the fat content. As moisture evaporates during the aging process, the fat (as well as much of the flavor!) becomes more concentrated in the cheese. Though an aged cheese may have a higher fat content, generally speaking, less is needed to satisfy the appetite because of the intensity of the flavor. So if fat is a concern, try buying fresher cheeses (like fetas, fresh mozzarellas, chevres, curd cheeses), or fuller flavored aged cheeses (like aged cheddars, aged Goudas, aged Italian cheeses, aged Swiss cheeses, etc.), and eating smaller portions. And if salt in feta is a concern, try soaking it in a bowl of plain water. This usually removes a great deal of the salinity of the original brine.

Heartland Credit Union