FAQ's

WHAT IS ARTISAN CHEESE?

Artisanal cheese refers to cheeses made by the hand of a skilled cheesemaker, using traditional craftsmanship. The result being that the cheeses will be complex in taste and variety and be packed with the flavours of their origin. Most artisan cheeses are aged and ripened to achieve optimum taste and texture. This maturation period is dependent on the cheese type and can range from just a few days to a few years.

The natural craft of turning milk into cheese is truly magical. The process can be traced back many thousand of years and has changed very little over this time. There are no additives, no hydrogenated fats, no preservatives. It’s naturally good for you and contains microbes to help gut and bodily function.

It’s very pleasing that artisanal cheesemaking is on the rise. Whilst many dairies have been producing traditionally made cheeses for many years, the number of making and experimenting with cheesemaking is on the increase. Australia is at the forefront of this and over the past decade a variety of producers from across all states are now creating some exceptional cheeses. We will be showcasing the best examples of traditional, as well as modern cheeses for your enjoyment.

HOW IS CHEESE MADE?

Put simply it’s milk turned from it’s liquid state into curds. The milk must be heated in a careful progression and an active yeasty-style starter needs to be added to the milk at just the right moment to bring the acidity level so that it will accept the rennet coagulant. Rennet is an acidic enzyme that helps to seperate the watery whey from the solid curd. The curds are then cut into small pieces before being scooped into moulds or presses, salted or brine bathed and then matured and ripened.

Along the way cheeses may have moulds added to give white bloomy rinds, or sticky orangey coats, blue veins or charcoal ash.

There is magic and alchemy to cheese making and it’s all thanks to mother nature’s gift of milk.

HOW SHOULD I EAT MY CHEESE?

Before we answer this we want to make it clear that quite simply cheese is to be enjoyed any way you prefer at any time you like with whatever you fancy! That said there are some generally accepted rules of cheese etiquette.

Ideally, cheese should be served at room temperature so get it out of the fridge an hour before serving. This is important for the flavour as cold cheese can taste quite bland.

A good practice when eating the cheeses, is to try them in ascending order of strength. Therefore we recommend starting with the goat's cheese (typically the mildest) and finishing with the blue (the most aggressive). This prevents milder tasting cheeses from being overpowered by those with more complex and stronger flavours.

WHAT MAKES A PERFECT CHEESE BOARD?

More of less. Artisan cheeses are packed with flavour so we recommend less types of cheese but bigger pieces. Bigger pieces of cheese also keep better.

Choose 4 cheeses. You need to ensure that you and your guests can fully appreciate the cheeses’ contrasting styles, tastes and textures. Too many can be a little confusing and you don’t want a flavour overload. We suggest a hard, a soft, a blue and a goat. Cheddar, Stilton, Brie and a Chabichou is are classic combination. The best advice is to come in to the shop and have a tasting and with our cheesemongers.

How much cheese. If the cheese is to be served after a meal we suggest about 100g per person. However if it’s being served as a snack or meal then maybe 150g per person.

What to have with them? Fresh fruit, chutneys, nuts, breads and a good biscuit or cracker will all complement the cheeses.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO LOOK AFTER MY CHEESE?

We sell our cheese wrapped in waxed paper, which achieves the best possible balance between maintaining humidity around the cheese and allowing it to breathe.

Once at home your cheeses should be stored in the refrigerator in the wax paper provided. The vegetable drawer is ideal as this tends to be the most humid area.

Here’s a breakdown to cheese storage by type;
Harder cheeses – such as Cheddar, Gruyère, or Parmesan – should be removed from the wax paper and placed in a tupperware container with a couple cubes of sugar. (The sugar will help to regulate the moisture and can actually extend the cheese's life by up to a month).
Individually wrapped cheeses (soft or hard) - will happily last for one to two weeks.
Softer cheeses - such as Brie or Gorgonzola generally need more care. Some keep better than others but a good ‘rule of thumb’ is to try to eat them within a week of purchase.

I AM A VEGETARIAN; WHAT CHEESES ARE SUITABLE FOR ME?

You should choose cheeses with vegetarian rennet. Rennet is an enzyme that is used to make most cheeses; it transforms liquid milk into solid curd, which the first step in cheesemaking.

Traditionally animal rennet is used, however non animal rennet has been developed as an alternative and cheeses made using these rennets are referred to as ‘vegetarian’.

A large number of British and Irish cheeses are vegetarian. France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany, as a general rule, use traditional rennet exclusively. Australian cheeses are largely vegetarian.

Our cheesemongers can advise you further to ensure that you choose the most appropriate cheese for you.

I AM PREGNANT; WHAT CHEESES ARE SUITABLE FOR ME?

This is a very common question yet there is no simple answer.

Some pregnant women only eat pasteurised cheese, while others do not change their cheese diet whatsoever.

Cheese is in fact one of the safest foods in terms of risk of food poisoning and illness. However, a bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes may develop in soft and semi-soft cheeses if the raw materials and environment are not properly controlled to prevent contamination.

While we take every care to ensure that all of our cheeses, soft and hard, attain a high level of safety, in order to avoid any risks we advise pregnant women to stick to hard cheeses like Cheddar and Parmesan. Avoid soft cheeses, blue cheeses and those in-between hard and soft, such as Cornish Yarg, which often has a soft layer of cheese near the rind and a firmer, younger core.

This is in alignment with the Food Authority recommendations. Please ask us if you are in any doubt.

I'M LACTOSE INTOLERANT; WHAT CHEESES CAN I EAT?

Lactose is a sugar that is found only in milk. People who are lactose intolerant cannot drink animal milk in any quantity without experiencing health issues. Whilst the lactose sensitivity can vary from person to person, generally they can tolerate small quantities of ordinary full-cream milk better than modern low fat milks, which are often boosted with skim milk powder, containing extra lactose.

Hard cooked cheeses contain little-to-no lactose, as most of it is drained off with the whey. Lactose is water soluble and so over 90% is removed as part of the cheesemaking process. Most hard cheeses, such as Cheddar, contain as little as 0.1 grams per 100 grams, which makes them suitable for most of those who are lactose intolerant.

People with lactose intolerance should avoid Ricotta, which is made from whey, as well as fresh cheeses where the whey is only partially drained (Mozzarella, Burrata and Feta).

Aged hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano is a perfect cheese for the lactose intolerant as its age is two-years plus. Aged cheeses like Comté or other hard cheeses aged at least six months (one-year plus is even better) are fine.

It is also worth noting that as Artisan cheeses are made in a more natural and considered way, people are less likely to be intolerant as they would be from mass produced cheeses.
This is because Artisan cheeses are generally made with a starter (see ‘How cheese is made’ section) made from the previous day's milk, as opposed to a manufactured one. A farmhouse-made cheese has a much slower, more controlled and less invasive production process, with less salt used as an additive and preservative. This is yet another reason that we champion the small producer who produces cheeses that are far more natural and better for your health.

I'M HOSTING A DINNER PARTY; HOW MUCH CHEESE SHOULD I BUY?

Obviously a number of factors determine the amount of cheese you should purchase. Are you eating only cheese? Will the cheeses be served after multiple courses? Is everyone eating cheese? However, for a cheese board comprised of four cheeses we usually recommend between thirty and fifty grams per cheese per person. One of our cheesemongers will be able to show you what that looks like and how to divide it.  If you are after just one cheese, the weight goes up to between 100 and 200 grams per person. The amount for Raclette and fondue is between 200 and 300 grams per person.

We at The Artisan Cheese Room like the phrase 'little and often.' It is not in our best interest to sell you too much, as the leftover cheese will deteriorate in quality, and we would rather you eat everything in its best condition. In the event that you have leftover cheese, please do not hesitate to contact us and enquire for ideas. We love to cook with our cheese and would be delighted to make some suggestions.

CAN I EAT THE RIND?

Yes, any natural rind can be eaten (i.e. a rind that has naturally formed, rather than a wax or plastic coated cheese), however it is all down to personal taste and preference. The development of the rind is a critical part of the cheesemaking process and tasting a rind often gives a hint of the cellars, caves or maturing room from where it came.

Here is a general guide.
Softer Rinds: These rinds are naturally edible and usually enhance the flavour of the cheese. These include, Soft White (Brie or a Camembert), Washed Rinds (Epoisses and Taleggio) and Goats cheese.
Harder Cheese. Natural Rinds are formed when air naturally dries the outer layer of cheese to form a crust. This occurs as the cheese matures from the outside inwards. The cheeses are stored in temperature and humidity controlled environments and the rind develops over time whilst being closely attended by the affineur (cheesemaker). Whilst these rinds can still be eaten these type of rinds tend to harder, thicker and more bitter. Examples include Cheddar and Parmesan.
TIP: The natural rinds of harder cheeses, especially Parmesan, are wonderful to add flavour to slow cooked soups and stocks. Simply freeze them in a resealable bag and use as required.

If in doubt just ask.
back to top