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How to tell the difference between Artisan and Industrial Cheese

It’s no secret that we are addicted to cheese, whether that be fresh, cured, or semi-cured cheese, from goat or cow, or even to eat on its own or in a meal. We can’t get enough of the stuff! That’s why we want to share with you the ways to tell the difference between artisan and industrial cheese. That way you will be able to know your preferences and be able to impress your friends at your next dinner party.

What is artisan cheese and what is industrial cheese?

The production of artisan cheese is directed by a master cheesemaker who supervises the entire process of making cheese, especially with the selection of raw milk. More care is given to the production of cheese and therefore the quality is higher because it is more authentic and artisanal. The process may be slow because they take the time to care for the cheese and allow for it to age naturally. On the other hand, industrial cheese consists of mass-produced cheeses that use pasteurized milk. This is because the milk comes from many sources and, to avoid health problems, they must pasteurize it. This also allows the producers to control the quality and taste so that it is the same every time.  

Difference in smell

Every cheese, whether it be artisan or industrial, has a type of smell. This is one of the biggest ways to categorize a cheese. Artisan cheeses have their own unique smell and even the most tender of cheeses will have a noticeable aroma. Soft cheeses on the inside with a protective outside layer of whitish mold can have a sharper ammonia smell. An example of this can be found with brie or camembert cheese. On the other hand, cheeses with mold or a natural rind can have a more earthy identity to them. The main importance is that artisan cheeses typically have a stronger aroma. In contrast, industrial cheeses tend to be odorless or have a slightly subtle milk scent. So, the smell is not as noticeable in industrial cheeses.

Difference in taste

The taste of a cheese also gives away many characteristics. For instance, artisan -raw milk- cheeses tend to have a stronger taste and at times can be classified as a little spicy. This is due to the quality of raw milk. There is more possibility to experiment with the cheese because the master cheesemaker selects the best raw milk, which can increase the flavor and quality. An example can be found in Manchego cheeses. They are typically more acidic and have a strong taste with a little spiciness to it. Therefore, artisan cheeses are more complex and have more nuances and more potent flavor.

In contrast, industrial cheeses use pasteurized milk to allow greater consumer safety when creating mass batches. The milk used in industrial cheeses is processed in vats to obtain large quantities of product in a short amount of time. This causes the cheese to lose its intense flavor. So many industrial cheeses can be described as having a sweet taste that can easily please the most amount of people, while artisan cheese require a more refined palate.

Different physical aspects

Our Murcia al Vino Cheese with nuts and fig cake.
Our Murcia al Vino Cheese with nuts and fig cake.

Lastly, we can distinguish these two types of cheeses by their appearance. Industrial cheeses have a more picturesque look due to their purity in color; or how it seems more appealing because it is the same shade of white throughout. Unlike artisan cheeses that retain their rind and are generally rougher looking with a dull yellowish color. They also may have “imperfections” like blue mold.  

No matter what cheeses you choose it is important to note that both are great options depending on your needs or preferences. Artisan cheeses offer more flavors, textures, and nuances that are a pleasure for the palate. Yet, industrial cheeses can provide a sort of predictable comfort to any dish or cheese platter.

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Any question?

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