Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PASTEURISED AND RAW MILK CHEESE?
We mature and sell what we think are the best cheeses of their type. Many of these cheeses are made with raw milk, i.e. milk that hasn’t been heat-treated to kill off any pathogens that might be present. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the microbes in carefully-produced raw milk play an important part in helping to ensure their safety as well as improving the sensorial properties of cheese. Our suppliers often use milk from their own farms, thereby ensuring that they have total control over the quality of their raw materials. Check the description lists to see whether a cheese is pasteurised or not.
ARE ALL YOUR CHEESES ORGANIC?
No. We look for the cheeses that taste the best, rather than stocking cheeses simply because they have an organic label. We have found that there’s a very close link between the best cheeses and respectful, non-intensive farming. Cheesemakers who produce cheese with the greatest of care demand the very best milk. Intensive production, on the other hand, is geared toward quantity over quality.
WHAT IS VEGETARIAN CHEESE?
Rennet, a mixture of enzymes extracted from the stomachs of young ruminant mammals (calves, kids, or lambs), is used to make most cheeses. It transforms liquid milk into solid curd, which is the first step in cheesemaking. Vegetarian substitutes have been developed as an alternative to traditional rennet and cheeses made using these coagulants are referred to as ‘vegetarian’. These synthetic enzymes are not, however, the same thing as ‘rennet’, the liquid extract containing natural enzymes. In order to help our customers choose with full information, we refer to laboratory-derived enzymes using the precise term, ‘vegetarian coagulant’. A notable exception is the use of true plant extracts, some of which are also capable of setting milk, such as the cardoon stamens used by Mary Holbrook to make her cheese Cardo.
Dairy farming systems necessitate that unneeded animals are killed. These animals are not killed specifically for their stomach linings. We feel that clotting the milk with rennet is therefore a frugal, sensible use of a resource that would otherwise go to waste.
WHAT IS BLUE CHEESE?
Blue cheese such as Stilton contains blue mould spores (Penicillium roqueforti) within the body of the cheese. These moulds help to break the cheese down, and in the process they give it a stronger flavour and distinctive appearance. Sometimes other cheeses that we sell contain blue mould. Air has been able to penetrate the cheese through the natural rind, allowing naturally-occurring mould spores to grow within the cheese.
Blue moulds are activated by the presence of air, whether intentionally as in Stilton or by accident in Cheddar. There is no danger in eating blue Cheddar, just as there is no danger in eating other blue cheeses. We encourage our customers to taste the cheese and see what appeals to them on a case-by-case basis. We often have customers who ask to have the blue bits set aside for them.
CAN I EAT CHEESE IF I’M PREGNANT?
Neal’s Yard Dairy does not offer medical advice on cheese and pregnancy: we can, however, share with our customers what we know about cheese.
Women can still eat cheese during pregnancy, but should avoid soft, semi-soft and blue cheeses, which may contain Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium causing Listeriosis. Listeria does not occur naturally in milk or cheese; instead, its presence indicates contamination of either the raw material (milk) or environment (cheesemaking equipment or ripening areas). We take all due care to ensure our cheeses meet uncompromising safety standards so as to minimise this risk. For a list of cheeses we would recommend please see our cheese and pregnancy page.
HOW SHOULD I STORE MY CHEESE?
See our quick guide to cheese care on the product pages of our shop.
HOW SHOULD I STORE WHOLE CHEESES?
If you are buying a whole cheeses, such as stilton they may be too large to fit in your fridge. In winter, these conditions can be improvised by keeping your cheese in a cellar or cool room. You must be aware that when stored out of the refrigerator, your cheese will develop more quickly. This can make for more rounded flavours; however, you will need to check it regularly to see how it is behaving. If you are keeping it too warm the cheese will sweat, feel pappy, and have a considerably stronger smell.
WHEN TO ORDER
You can order online in advance and choose the day you’d prefer your cheese to arrive. Typically we accept orders for next day delivery up to 12 midday the day before, although during peak times lead times can extend to up to 48hours prior to delivery. If you are ordering cheese for delivery for a special occasion, be sure to select an estimated delivery date a day or two in advance of your event in case of courier delays. For example, if your event is over the weekend, it is best to choose Thursday as the estimated delivery day.