Essay

8 Cheeses That Don’t Come From Cows

Cheese is a widely consumed product that is an essential component of many of the best dishes. Cheese makes everything better: sandwiches, charcuterie boards, spaghetti, pizza, and dips. The global cheese production in 2022 was 22.17 million metric tonnes. Although cow’s milk accounts for the majority of this creamy delight, other animals also add to the total. The creation of cheese is aided by plants, goats, buffalo, and sheep. While the flavours and textures of these cheeses are different from those made from cow’s milk, they are all deliciously useful. Let’s examine eight non-cow cheeses, their applications, and flavours.

8. Pecorino

The milk used to make pecorino cheese comes from Pecora Sarda sheep. These sheep are native to Sardinia, an Italian island that produces 68% of the country’s sheep milk. One of the oldest cheeses in the world is pecorino, and numerous ancient Roman scholars mentioned cheese-making methods resembling those used to produce pecorino today.

Pecorino cheese has a strong, acidic flavour and a crumbly texture. It is available in various variants. Pecorino is a popular cheese in pasta dishes because of its texture, which makes it suitable for grating and melting. It is occasionally used in place of parmesan. Pecorino Toscano, Romano, and Sardo are some of the more well-known varieties.

7. Goat Cheese

It should come as no surprise that cheesemakers use goat’s milk to make chèvre, or goat’s cheese. Goat cheese is available in a variety of forms, but the most common is soft, spreadable, and typically comes in log shape. To generate diverse flavours, this soft cheese is frequently coated in (or infused with) herbs or spices. The acidic flavour of the cheese is balanced by a scent that some describe as “goaty.”

Goats were among the earliest animals to be domesticated for milk production. Goat cheese comes from the Middle East and Mediterranean and has been around since at least 5,000 B.C. In the ninth century, chevre was considered a delicacy by the people of the Loire Valley in France. Some of the most well-known goat cheese in the world is currently produced in that area.

6. Roquefort

In the French caverns of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, sheep’s milk is used to make the blue cheese known as “rousseau”. Even though identical cheeses are created abroad, only this particular cheese meets the protected European Union designation of Roquefort. Similar to other blue cheeses, Roquefort has a crumbly, moist texture with veins of blue mould, which is produced by the Penicillium rocqueforti fungus. It smells strong, acidic, pungent, and aromatic. It is frequently served as a sauce over fish or meat dishes, or combined with fruits and nuts in salads and cured meats on cheese boards.

5. Halloumi

Traditionally, sheep or goat milk—or a mix of the two—is used to make this cheese. But some cheese manufacturers also utilise milk from cows. This semihard cheese has its origins in Cyprus and is perfect for grilling or frying due to its high melting point. Although it can also be used in salads and sandwiches, it is typically served this way with vegetables. The flavours of the two main varieties of halloumi vary. Fresh halloumi is gentler and less salty than mature halloumi. The older variety tastes saltier and has a drier texture. It is aged in brine, which explains this.

4. Feta

Feta cheese is made from the milk of goats, sheep, or a mix of the two by cheesemakers. Compared to many other cheeses, this crumbly cheese is lower in calories and fat. This Greek cheese is a staple in salads, omelettes, and phyllo-based pastries. Although crumbly white brined cheeses have come to be associated with the name “feta,” only cheese made in Greece and the Lesbos Prefecture with traditional techniques and particular milk ratios is eligible for the EU’s protected designation.

3. Manchego

Manchego, another well-liked sheep’s milk cheese, with a characteristic classic herringbone rind. Manchego hails from the La Mancha region of Spain and has a pale yellow colour that is semi-soft. Manchego has a full-bodied taste, partly attributed to its high fat level of up to 57%. This contributes to the cheese’s rich, sweet flavour. Manchego is available in several age-based variants. Hams, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes work great with manchego. Therefore, manchego is frequently used in Spanish tapas.

2. Buffalo Milk Cheese

This silky, creamy cheese is made from milk from sources other than the typical suspects, such as sheep or goats. Rather, milk from the Italian Mediterranean buffalo, or Bubalus bubalis, a kind of water buffalo, is used by cheesemakers. Buffalo mozzarella has a softer, creamier texture because it contains twice as much milk fat than cow’s milk. Compared to mozzarella prepared from cow’s milk, it tastes more tangy. This mozzarella is used in salads, pasta dishes, and pizza.

1. Vegan Cheese

There is no shortage of vegan cheese options on the market for individuals who want to stay away from any cheese that comes from animals. Vegetable proteins are used in place of milk in vegan cheese. Cheesemakers use thickeners and oils to get the classic cheese-like texture. Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, or soy are used in vegan cheese. Vegan cheese does not melt as smoothly as regular cheese, despite the fact that vegan cheesemakers have improved their ability to mimic the consistency and even flavour of cheese. Compared to vegan cheese, milk-based cheese has less salt.

Highlights of Cheeses That Don’t Come From Cows

Cheese Type Composition
Vegan cheese Plant-based using vegetable proteins, often from nuts such as cashews, almonds, or macadamias
Buffalo milk cheese Water buffalo milk
Manchego Sheep’s milk
Feta Goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, or a combination
Halloumi Sheep’s milk (though some combine goat’s milk or cow’s milk)
Roquefort Sheep’s milk
Goat cheese Goat’s milk
Peccorino Sheeps’ milk