Q: What is raw milk?
A: Raw milk is milk that has NOT been pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process in which milk is heated in order to kill potential pathogens before being rapidly cooled down again. In the case of cheese, milk is usually pasteurized by heating to 145 degrees and holding it at that temperature for 30 minutes before cooling. For larger, commercial fluid milk operations, the temperatures are usually higher and the duration of pasteurization is shorter.
Q: Is selling raw milk legal?
A: In some states, yes. In most states, no. In New York State, if you want to purchase raw milk, you must buy it directly from a farm that has a license to sell it.
Q: What about raw milk cheese?
A: There is a federal law that governs how raw milk cheese must be produced and sold. Raw milk cheese is legal to sell so long as it has been aged for a minimum of 60 days. That means that most young, soft cheeses are made with pasteurized milk. It is more common to find semi-firm and firm cheeses that are made with raw milk, as those cheeses are designed to withstand longer aging times
Q: Is raw milk cheese better?
A: In our totally biased opinion, yes! This is not to say that you can’t make very tasty cheese with pasteurized milk (you can) but raw milk is full of microflora unique to each farm that imparts distinctive and complex flavors to the finished cheese.
Q: Is raw milk safe?
A: When produced in a safe manner, absolutely! By safe we mean that the environment where the animals are milked is clean, that all milking equipment and storage tanks are properly cleaned, and that the animals’ health is good. We’ve been to visit nearly all of the farms that we work with and can say for certain that the raw milk cheeses we sell are produced on farms that adhere to the highest standards!
Q: Is raw milk good for you?
A: Yes! Again, when produced in a safe manner, raw milk is full of beneficial microflora and enzymes that promote good gut health and promote easier digestion of dairy products. When you eat a raw milk cheese, you’re turbo charging your gut biome (thanks Michael Pollan for that useful phrase!) and enjoying one of humankind’s oldest delicacies.