Summer with American Cheeses on the Plate

Summer holiday is approaching and perhaps against common practice, I will not recommend any summer cheeses this year. However, you have ample opportunities to find out yourself by looking around at You will find a lot of recommendations and various cheeses for any occasion. And wine to go with it. Spend some time, you will gain a little bit of cheese knowledge along the way, as well. I will spend the summer diving into American cheeses. I am quite fascinated by the topic, but my knowledge suffers from shortcomings.
American cheese is so much more than single wrapped “cheddar” slices from Kraft Foods, or Philadelphia which, by the way, is fine for bagels and making cheese cakes. As the story goes, Cottage Cheese came to Europe from America, but some insist it originally came to America with European immigrants.
The USA is the world’s largest manufacturer of cheese, in case you did not know. A lot of it very industrial, I must say, but more artisan cheese made there than most of us would imagine.

american cheeses
Mt. Tam, pasteurized, but my first real encounter with American cheeses.

Many wonderful American cheeses

Wisconsin is THE cheese state. To some extent California represented the start of artisan cheese making. Vermont seems to have taken a leading role when it comes to public presence. They have earned their credibility through innovation and quality work in the cheese room. These three states are at the forefront as I experience it. But in addition there are many, many more small farms and dairies scattered around the country making excellent artisan cheese from raw as well as pasteurized milk. I think there is a misconception that all american cheeses are pasteurized. Far from it. But the legal terms concerning raw milk vary from state to state. While you can make cheese from raw milk in some states, you cannot in others. There is one common rule, however, all raw milk cheeses must be matured for at least 60 days before being sold. This applies to imported cheese as well. The appropriateness of this is debated, however.

American cheeses in Europe?

In Norway, where I hail from, the range on offer is very limited, if not non-existent. Some varieties from Jasper Hill in Vermont; Bayley Hazen Blue and Harbison and the occasional Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, also matured at the cellars of Jasper Hill. Excellent cheeses I would like to see more of. The best place in Europe for American cheeses is probably London.

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