We are often asked about the differences between raw-milk cheese and cheese made from pasteurized milk. First, what is raw-milk cheese?
Cheese produced from milk that, prior to setting the curd, has not been heated above the temperature of the milk (104°F, 40°C) at the time of milking and that the cheese produced from that milk shall be aged for 60 days or longer at a temperature of not less than 35°F (2°C) in accordance with US FDA regulations.
The simple answer to why produce raw-milk cheeses is the flavor. The complex mix of organisms naturally occurring in raw milk leads to a depth of flavor that pasteurized cheeses can’t really approach. That’s not to say that there aren’t any pasteurized cheeses that are excellent, nor are all raw-milk cheeses revelations, but the trend is undeniable.
In one study, researchers at France’s Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique made the same cheeses from both raw and pasteurized milk. The raw-milk versions developed flavor sooner and the flavor was richer and more complex. The researchers’ conclusion: Pasteurization alters the biochemistry and microbiology of ripening and thus the texture and flavor of the cheese.
All things being equal, raw milk will produce a more complex cheese than pasteurized milk.