Did You Know That There's a Right Season for Different Types of Cheese?
These days a lot of people are working hard to eat in-season foods. There are two good reasons for this. First of all, eating foods that are in-season tends to be the best option for your pocketbook since out-of-season foods are pricey. And secondly, eating foods that are in-season (especially locally) is probably better for your health. A long time ago, people only had the option of eating in-season foods ... that's what our bodies were conditioned for. Eating in-season foods today is in line with what our bodies likely want and need.
When we talk about eating in-season foods, we are usually talking about fruits and vegetables. These are the things that have a season. These are the things that grow at certain times of year and taste best when they are at the peak of their season. However, there are some unusual foods that have seasons as well. Did you know that cheese is one of those foods? Some seasons are better than others for cheese in terms of their peak taste. And who knows, maybe eating cheese that is at its prime is also better for your body!
Eat Out Magazine explains that the cheese that is made from a cow's milk in winter tastes different than if it's made in the summer. That's particularly true for cheese coming from small farms (as opposed to factory farms) because of the fact that these animals eat differently in the winter (when they are most likely to eat hay) as in the summer (when they're likely to eat fresh grass). What a cow eats effects the milk and ultimately effects the best season for the cheese. For that reason, you can best choose the right season for cheese if you know when the cheese was produced. Shopping at local stores and farmers markets can give you access to people who can provide you with this information about your cheese, helping to select it in the right season.
However, if you don't have access to this information then here are some tips to follow for choosing cheese in the prime of its season:
- Aged cheeses are best to eat during the winter months. Cheese that needs to age for a long period of time, such as Vacherins or Roquefort, is generally best in the winter. That's because it is typically processed in the spring of the previous year and then aged all throughout the year until the winter.
- Spring is the ideal time to eat fresh cheeses. If you want a fresh cheese, as opposed to an aged cheese, you want to get it in the spring. Spring is when most of the best cheese is made. The animals that are grazing on family farms are eating fresh grass and the milk they produce is aromatic and tasty. Goat's cheese is particularly good in spring. Bries and Brousses are good at this time of year too. These cheeses can be eaten into the summer months but their peak is spring.
- If you enjoy very flavorful cheeses then you want to purchase them in the fall. This gives them time to ripen without aging. For example, Muenster is a great cheese for the fall months. It is rich in flavor and doesn't need to be eaten fresh.
- There are types of cheese that lie between fresh and flavorful. These cheeses, such as Camembert, are best when they are eaten in the summer months as they are just beginning to get ripe. Cheese that has a rind on it often falls into this category and is a great choice during the summer.
You can eat cheese all year long. And if you buy packaged cheese or cheese that's from a factory farm then you probably won't ever notice a seasonal difference in your cheese. But if you enjoy eating really good cheeses from local family farms then you will find that eating them in the correct season gives you the best flavor.