Guide to Cheese Types
Artisan Cheese - Cheese Guide
June 12, 2019 | By Dave Mattingly
Artisan Cheese is a specialty cheese that is produced primarily by hand in small batches. Particular attention is paid to the age-old traditions of the cheese maker, and the use of mechanization is avoided as much as possible during the production of the cheese. The complex flavor and aromas and unique visual presentation of Artisan Cheeses help distinguish them from mass-produced cheese. Artisan Cheese is made in just about every style of cheese but is usually produced in small to medium-scale production.
Artisan Cheese Makers
While Artisan Cheese has been made for centuries in regions throughout Europe, it was until the 1970s that a resurgence of small scale cheese making occurred in the US. By the 1970s, most cheese in the US was made by large corporations that mass-produced factory cheeses. The few exceptions were companies like Vella Cheese Co. who began operations in Sonoma County, California in 1931 and Maytag Dairy Farms, established in 1941 in Iowa. By the early 1980s, the US saw only a handful of Artisan cheese makers, but European cheese makers began to establish production branches in the US, which contributed to the Artisan Cheese movement. Since then growth, quality and demand have continued steadily. Many American Artisan cheese makers perfected their cheese making on farms in European countries such as France and Switzerland, whose age-old traditions have changed very little throughout the centuries. Founded in 1983, the American Cheese Society is a non-profit organization that promotes and supports American cheese, and "is available to anyone involved in the trade or simply passionate about American-made specialty and artisanal cheeses." The number of Artisan Cheese producers in the US has nearly doubled since the year 2000, as today there are hundreds of small and medium sized Artisan cheese makers in the US.
Today, in addition to European countries, nearly every state in the US, along with countries such as Canada, England, Ireland, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand have Artisan Cheese producers. Due to their small scale manufacturing, most of the cheese that is produced is in limited quantities. Similar to Artisan Cheese, Farmstead Cheeses have increased in popularity as well. While Artisan Cheese focuses on production technique, Farmstead Cheese focuses on the source, as Farmstead Cheese must be made from milk of the farmers' own herd or flock of cows, sheep or goats.
Artisan Cheese Varieties
The varieties of Artisan Cheeses range from the ancient cheeses of Europe to modern American varieties. From Fourme d'Ambert, one of France's oldest cheeses, to Idiazabal from Northern Spain to award-winning Canadian Oka L'Artisan and Utah's Full Moon by Beehive Cheese, Artisan Cheese meets just about every cheese flavor profile imaginable. Interested in both an Artisan and Farmstead Cheese? Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company in California produces the unique Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese, which is both Artisan and Farmstead. To find the best gourmet foods and gift baskets online, begin your search at igourmet.com.