Going slow; why it’s worth it
Written by Molly Goldwater
We talk about investing in quality, but what does that actually mean?
We know mass produced cuts corners. We understand fast fashion is hurting the planet. We get that big corporations don’t have our best interests at heart. For all of these negatives there are people choosing the opposite; slow processes, minimal interventions and future proofed methods.
You may have heard us behind the counter talking about sourcing from small scale producers - and this is why. We’d like to take the time to break down some of the ways that this has a positive impact on all that we do.
Some things are more long term, but this one has instant gratification.
Our cheese makers work in a style very much under the ‘slow food’ umbrella, appreciating our relationship of production within the ecosystem. The timely consideration of all of these elements creates depth of flavour that is simply not replicated in mass produced cheese. So if it’s flavour, what are we tasting?
Firstly; time. Mass produced cheese may be allowed as little as a few weeks to age with cheese on our counter ranging from many months…to years.
Changes to acidity, moisture content and microbial development take as long as they need to take. No rushing or forcing here. The result is a much wider breadth of flavour, notes that linger longer, crunchy crystals and oozing middles. This is due to time being allowed, as a necessity, to develop the cheese to its prime. There is no financial benefit, it’s just all about the flavour. Secondly; the milk. As twee as it may sound, happy cows mean better milk. Hormones related to happiness are proven to increase the yield and quality of the milk - for instance increasing calcium content. Complex and rich milk, especially when unpasteurised, gives a richer palate for all the chemistry going on during cheese making, and then ageing.
Like humans, good food makes cows happy (and goats, and sheep). Rather than processed cattle feed, artisanal and farmhouse cheesemakers appreciate the reflection of the land on the flavour of their milk. This is to cheese what ‘terroir’ is to wine. Seasons change and so does the flora, young grasses and spring flower buds…you’ll swear you can taste it loud and clear in the cheese.
Mass produced cheese requires mass produced milk. This means mass production farms. This blown up approach leads to environmental issues as well as a homogenised product.
As soon as cattle are overpopulated, there is a necessity for antibiotics to avoid disease spreading, which in turn trickles down the food chain to us and the wider ecosystem. Mass production also sees high volumes created in one place before being transported elsewhere for production.
Both the above increase the need for pasteurisation (heat treatment) of the milk. Whilst this does a great job of keeping the milk sanitary, it also strips essential micro flora - meaning cultures and flavour adjuncts often need to be re-added (these include the live bacteria which turn the milk into cheese, and develop new flavours).
By choosing ‘farmhouse’ cheese, where the cattle live and are milked on the farm where the cheese is made, we are opting for a fairer choice to the environment.
Due to smaller numbers of cows, the health of the animals can be monitored more closely. The milk does not travel far. All of this allows the choice, by most producers we choose, to avoid pasteurising their milk. This harnesses all the micro flora and complexities of the milk - letting the maker step back and interfere as little as possible.
Like with nature itself all of these things are interconnected. Positive environmental choices result in exciting and delicious cheese. Good welfare results in happy herds, and you guessed it… brilliant cheese. And so on.
While there is a time and a place for all things, and we only make the best choices we can - we hope you can enjoy your next slice of something special even more next time.