One of the basic staples of humankind developed over one thousand years ago, today cheese has evolved considerably. Cheeses slowly became “protected” in France in the 20th century with other countries following; Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and England. For example, Roquefort is strictly watched over, no other country in the world or region in France can produce and label it such. Guidelines such as “only with raw sheep’s milk that feed on pasture”, and only during a certain period of time during the year, etc. Each protected cheese has different requirements. At the Grand Trunk we make a point of representing the “true” product from artisan farmers and affineurs.
Our domestic cheese-making is something to watch. For example, Vermont-considered the Napa Valley of cheese is producing some serious award winning cheese with a vast majority in the raw milk category. Attending the Vermont Cheese-makers festival each year helps us learn and discover new cheeses for you to try at the store.
At the shop you will find an ever changing selection of rare imported and local cheese. We visit many of our producers each year domestically and internationally. We have personally made cheese in the French Alps, tasted various wheels of Comté in Poligny, and hand wrapped Banon in chestnut leaves and raffia in Hautes-Provençe. It is important to understand the history and “culture” of each of these cheeses as they all have a different story…
Some Definitions to understand when searching for cheese:
Raw milk: (also known as unpasteurized) is when the milk has not been pasteurized (heated to a certain temperature for a certain amount of time) and thus the cheese contains all of its minerals, natural bacteria, and enzymes. Considered by the French as the highest quality standard for cheese many believe that raw milk cheese is fuller in flavor giving a more pronounced complexity and also healthier. In the United States all cheese being imported or produced in-country must be 60 days old before sold on the market if it is raw. We focus on these raw milk cheeses and represent as many as we can, just ask or look at our cheese labels as we clearly state if it is raw or pasteurized.
Pasteurized Milk: Ironically developed by the French, Louis Pasteur, in 1847. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that cheesemakers started pasteurizing their product. This process is done in a couple of manners: 1. Thermization or heat treatment is the process of gently rasing the milk temperature to 145 degrees for 15 seconds 2. raising the milk to 145 degrees for 30 minutes or 3. raising the milk to 162 degrees for 15 seconds. By far thermization is the gentlist and still leaves natural bacteria and true flavor.