Mixed-Milk Cheese: An International Dairy Delicacy
Mixed-milk cheese is an interesting gourmet choice for easy party food, especially for cheese and crackers and grilled cheese sandwiches. Exciting flavors and textures appear with the mixture of cow, sheep & goat milk in cheese.
If your cheese choices consist of Cheddar, American, and Swiss, then it’s time to expand your cheese repertoire.
There is a whole world of cheeses, and many of us just scratch the surface when it comes to trying new types of cheese. The type of milk used in cheese showcases its own flavor profile, whether it’s cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk.
Single-milk cheeses can be amazing and nuanced with aging and by adding herbs, for example. However, when cheesemakers blend milks from different animals, a complexity of texture and flavors open up. Mixed-milk cheeses have enjoyed widespread popularity across European countries for ages, blending the rich tapestry of flavors and textures that define the continent’s diverse culinary landscape. From the verdant pastures of France to the rolling hills of Italy, the combination of milks yields a symphony of tastes, as the sweet creaminess of cow’s milk harmonizes with the earthy tang of goat’s milk and the distinctive depth of sheep’s milk. This trinity of flavors creates cheeses that range from delightfully mild to exquisitely robust, catering to a myriad of palates and delighting both casual cheese tasters and food connoisseurs.
Popular Mixed Milk Cheese
Common mixed-milk cheeses are varieties of cheese made from a combination of two or more different types of milk, usually cow, goat, and/or sheep milk. Mixing different milks can create unique flavors, textures, and characteristics in the resulting cheese. Here are some examples of common mixed-milk cheeses:
- Pérail: A French cheese made from a blend of sheep and cow milk. It has a creamy texture and mild flavor.
- Pecorino Romano: While traditional Pecorino Romano is made from sheep’s milk, there are variations that blend sheep and cow milk. This cheese has a salty and tangy flavor.
- Boucheron: A French cheese made from a mixture of goat and cow milk. It has a distinctive cylinder shape and a creamy, tangy flavor.
- Feta: Feta is perhaps the most well-known Greek cheese. Traditionally made from a blend of sheep’s milk and goat’s milk, Feta has a crumbly texture and a tangy, salty flavor. It is a versatile cheese used in salads, pastries, and many other Greek dishes.
- Chèvre-Boîte: This is a mixed-milk version of traditional goat cheese, combining goat and cow milk. It is typically aged in a wooden box and has a soft, creamy interior.
- Brebis du Lavort: A French cheese made from a blend of sheep and cow milk. It has a semi-hard texture and a nutty, fruity flavor.
- Kasseri: Kasseri is a semi-hard cheese that is made from a combination of sheep’s milk and cow’s milk. It has a mild, buttery taste and is often enjoyed grilled, fried, or melted. Kasseri can also be used in sandwiches or served as part of a meze (Greek appetizer) platter.
- Gorgonzola: Gorgonzola is a renowned blue cheese originating from Italy. It is made from cow’s milk and often blended with a smaller proportion of sheep’s milk. This combination contributes to its distinct creamy texture and tangy, pungent flavor. Gorgonzola comes in two main varieties: Gorgonzola Dolce (sweet and creamy) and Gorgonzola Piccante (intensely flavored and crumbly).
- Valdeón: This Spanish blue cheese is often produced using a mix of cow and goat milk. It has a rich, creamy texture and a pungent taste.
It’s important to note that the availability of mixed-milk cheeses may vary by region and cheese producer. Additionally, some cheeses may have specific names based on the blend of milks used. Always check the label or inquire with a cheesemonger to learn about the specific types of milk used in a mixed-milk cheese.
American Made Mixed Milk Cheese
American master cheesemakers are increasingly working with mixed milk cheeses as they are innovating ways to create new specialty craft products. James Robson, chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) said that “Specialty cheeses continue to be responsible for the growth in the total cheese category over recent years, and Wisconsin’s artisan and specialty types have received a growing number of awards in domestic and international competitions, a tribute to the excellence of our state’s cheesemakers.”
In America, there are several popular mixed-milk cheeses that showcase the creativity and diversity of the local cheese-making scene. Here are some well-known mixed-milk cheeses produced in the United States:
- Mobay: A mixed-milk cheese made from a combination of goat and cow milk. It is known for its creamy texture and is often flavored with herbs, spices, or other ingredients. Developed by Master Cheesemaker Sid Cook of Carr Valley Cheese, Mobay has won many awards and features a layer each of sheep- and goat-milk cheeses separated by a thin layer of grapevine ash. The combination provides a delicate and rustic flavor similar to something one might experience in France or Italy’s wine country. This is a great cheese to get initiated into the mixed-milk varietals.
- Humboldt Fog: A distinctive American cheese made by Cypress Grove Chevre in California. It combines goat’s milk with a layer of vegetable ash in the center, creating a creamy, tangy interior and a bloomy rind.
- Mélange: Made by Vermont Creamery, this cheese is a blend of goat’s milk and cow’s milk. It has a rich, buttery flavor and a smooth texture.
- Shepherd’s Blend: Another one of Sid Cook’s mixed-milk cheeses combines all three milks: cow, goat and sheep. “Shepherd’s Blend” is aged for 10 weeks and offers a subtle, yet complex, flavor and excellent melting properties, making it perfect for a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.
- Cremont: Also produced by Vermont Creamery, Cremont is a mixed-milk cheese that combines goat’s milk and cow’s milk. It has a soft, bloomy rind and a creamy, slightly tangy taste.
- Harbison: Made by Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont, Harbison is cheese wrapped in spruce bark. It blends cow’s milk with a touch of goat’s milk, resulting in a gooey, savory cheese with earthy flavors.
- Tres Bonne: This cheese from Ohio’s Mackenzie Creamery combines goat’s milk and cow’s milk. It is aged and has a creamy, spreadable texture with a delicate flavor.
- Grayson: Produced by Meadow Creek Dairy in Virginia, Grayson is a washed-rind cheese that blends the milk of Jersey cows and Red Devon cows. It has a rich, meaty flavor and a semi-soft texture.
- Kunik: Made by Nettle Meadow Farm in New York, Kunik is made by combining goat’s milk and cow’s cream. It has a velvety texture and a sweet, tangy flavor.
Please note that availability may vary depending on location and the specific artisan cheese producers in the United States. Always check with local cheese shops or producers to see what mixed-milk cheeses are available in your area.
Give Mixed Milk Cheese a Try!
So, the next time you want to entertain, add some mixed milk cheeses to your cheese board spread. Mixed-milk cheeses add depth to a cheese platter you may be serving at a party, or even liven up a classic grilled cheese sandwich. When you serve cheese and crackers or use cheese in a recipe, experiment with using a cheese you haven’t tried before. Many delis have cheesemongers who can help you with varying your cheese selection.