American Cheese Month

Founded by the American Cheese Society, American Cheese Month is an annual celebration of America’s artisan, farmstead, and specialty cheeses, and the farmers, cheesemakers, distributors, retailers, chefs, and educators who bring them to the table. The goal of the celebration is to raise awareness of the quality and diversity of American cheeses, as well as to increase support for family farms and traditional cheese production methods.

The types of cheeses produced in the Americas continue to grow and expand, fueled by market demand and knowledge gained by cheesemakers. The numbers of new cheeses being offered, from specialty, artisanal, and farmstead cheesemakers, have dramatically increased over the last decade, resulting in literally hundreds of cheeses being available in supermarkets, specialty stores, farmer’s markets and via the Internet. Cheeses produced in the United States may be made from cow, goat, or sheep’s milk or a blend. Federal Department of Agriculture regulations require that any cheese aged fewer than 60 days be made from pasteurized milk; however, those cheeses aged beyond 60 days may be made from non-pasteurized, or “raw,” milk.

Like wines and other fine foods, the best way to decide on your favorites is to taste them, and any good cheese monger will be happy to provide a sample before you buy. And always remember to buy only as much as you can consume within a few days. Most modern refrigerators will dry out cheeses over long periods of time. The best place to store refrigerated cheese, because of its high humidity level, is the vegetable compartment, usually located at the bottom of the refrigerator.

What is Artisan or Artisanal Cheese?
The word “artisan” or “artisanal” implies that a cheese is produced primarily by hand, in small batches, with particular attention paid to the tradition of the cheesemaker’s art, and thus using as little mechanization as possible in the production of the cheese. Artisan, or artisanal, cheeses may be made from all types of milk and may include various flavorings. 

What is Specialty Cheese?
Specialty cheese is defined as a cheese of limited production, with particular attention paid to natural flavor and texture profiles. Specialty cheeses may be made from all types of milk (cow, sheep, goat) and may include flavorings, such as herbs, spices, fruits and nuts.

What is Farmstead Cheese?
In order for a cheese to be classified as “farmstead,” as defined by the American Cheese Society, the cheese must be made with milk from the farmer’s own herd, or flock, on the farm where the animals are raised. Milk used in the production of farmstead cheeses may not be obtained from any outside source. Farmstead cheeses may be made from all types of milk and may include various flavorings.


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