#TNCN with Charlie Turnbull & Bronwen Percival: we talk about raw milk, how it makes great cheeses and Bronwen's book on why it is as important today as it ever was.
Live Broadcast On: 02nd June 2020
Episode Video Transcript
It's a beautiful summer's day it's the beginning of June summer is here we are thinking cows we're sinking pastures we're thinking daisies and dandelions and the whole beautiful evening thing I'm Charlie Turnbull and this is the Academy of Cheese.
Tuesday night is cheese night as you all know and it's time to tour cheese now tonight we have a proper proper academic somebody actually knows what they're talking about not not that I don't I am a very serious intellectual as I'm sure you're aware we have bra my purse but I Bronwyn has a master's degree in this stuff she also has been working for Neal's Yard one of our senior cheese after knowing organizations in the UK and knows a lot so let's get her on and start talking raw milk the very stuff of life she knows a lot about them because she's just had a baby right here we go you want Robin Robin Terry great how are you I'm loving your background already everyone is this that's the proper dichotomy of the soul the intellect and the drink good so you've chosen the cheese's tonight we're having a little bit of a sad swan song on one of them which is treasure in which the NSLog which will come under the second and we've also got one of what we might call the grandfather of Swiss cheese Lee what I would call the ativ s but you have corrected my pronunciation so that's great but let's let's talk about you let's talk about you and you've got a wee boy who's just 12 weeks old well weeks old on Thursday yes yeah as to spite small ones I still remember the the journey let's put it that way but also you know he said he's an expert in raw milk by definition absolutely and you know it's very interesting when you leave the hospital and they talk to you about the benefits of breastfeeding there's no question about raw milk being infinitely superior to you know heat treated pasteurized formula and of course I want to be really clear that not everyone can breastfeed and there's no shame in that but really the information that they're finding out about the wonders of raw milk in that context I think in many cases are also applicable when we start talking about the raw milk of ruminants and the cheeses that are made from them so it's been a very interesting comparison ya know it must be fascinating because it's it's gonna come down to the B word isn't it it's about microbes those little chappies who are living in the milk I mean their exam problem ilk itself that you know where it comes from makes a difference but we're really gonna focus tonight on the on the stowaways let's put it that way and you know and whether you think of them as stowaways or the people know the or the residents that you're really looking to do the farming of is a really interesting question and I think more and more over you know even the past few years we've shifted our vantage point from thinking of bacteria in milk is something that we want to avoid at all costs to make cheese safer and towards something where we actually realized that in doing that and in making milk that's been depleted of its microbial residence were actually making milk that stripped of its identity and in many cases which is less safe than milk that in which the bacteria are farmed and encouraged on the right bacteria take a step back let's take a step back because I think we need to address what bacteria is I mean there's the oddest particularly in under coded rules I mean microbes knocking around isn't everyone's idea fun right now so let's just get it out there what is bacteria well fortunately for the reputation of bacteria but within that um you know these are microorganisms that are omnipresent in our environment and I think again according to this old way of thinking you would find bacteria ever you look but at the same time they were seen as contaminants or something that was dirty rather than something that was you know healthy or required for well so I mean there are multiple different families of bacteria and multiple you know and which thrives in different places and which different places select four so we can think about bacteria and the selection of bacteria that we find in any place really is a reflection of the conditions and what is able to grow there and I think I'm Ryan sand and the average human being is about a kilo bacteria is not a probably that's close to it and you know when you think about that in terms of the size of bacteria that's tiny they're smaller than the average cell you understand this of course I read it on the Internet therefore it's not true or is true but you actually have more bacteria in your body themselves it's just they're really really small so these are Co residents exactly and you know particularly in the context of gut bacteria for example I think people are realizing more and more how how many human health problems might be related to a you know imbalance and those bacteria you know we evolved together and so it only makes sense that our bodies and our world has evolved to work in concert with these organisms rather than in a sterile environment and because because of germ theory because of the absolutely correct thing that the wrong thing in the wrong place can definitely make you sick we've spent several generations chasing these organisms to the point where we've eliminated many of them to our own detriment and that has to do with health but it also has to do with cheese I mean let's just this let's address the bad stuff okay in this family of bacteria which is vast and there are many many different types and there are a very small number a child right and one might name with the one who wants to talk about and you'd being recently pregnant would be big in there is the Listeria it's some of the e.coli Salmonella and TB those are the four that we are most afraid of isn't it oh yeah and you could say in certain circumstances maybe coagulates positive staph.aureus these are the ones we give you I want to say that but yes absolutely though it's actually surprising the small number of bacteria of different species of bacteria that we really do worry about in the context of cheese I mean when you think about the millions of different species and the thousands of different species that can be found in cheese it really is as you say just a tiny handful that we need to worry about but at the same time it's important not to underplay the fact that they can be really serious and I think we need to stress that is that those chats get outta control we don't just see people having a couple of days in bed they they can kill people Yeah right so we need to be totally on it and that is the other side of the development coin that you've been talking about is that on the one hand we've moved away from understanding and wanting these things but the same time we now have a really good bunch of tools about how to understand count characterize and prevent bad things happily and and again thinking about it not as like we all need to use more bleach in our dairies but actually we need to start thinking about how we can farm for microbes how actually the control and the prevention of these microbes getting into milk doesn't start at the creamery door it starts at the farm level it starts as what are these cows being that it's down on what are they eating how is the food for them preserved how carefully is the silage made all of these things are the ultimate source of safety in the cheese one of the things that one's also going to look at is that 100 years ago maybe that's not fair 200 years ago then what the hell bacteria were right they were in visible not just invisible but they weren't even aware so for the vast majority of cheese making history the use of bacteria which has been essential and never and has been know about any knowledge of what I'm not there working with it Spencer yeah it's one of the most amazing things about cheese that I can think of is the fact that all of these amazing cheese's were developed without a knowledge of bacteria or the way they work when they're actually so fundamental though to the process so we're gonna talk to 19 well before Roman and I get carried away bacteria love the the way the bacteria have been part of the cheese journey how they've been engendered controlled and to an extent tamed with the sort of start cultures today and how that's impacted but before we do that let's eat some cheese so who's not who's first up Brian let's start with the inner slug okay here we have him now I have to say time about GHI Kimberly sometimes it has like qualities sometimes it has mold like qualities it can switch between the two of them and there are many many different strains and of course many people will inoculate the Geo into their cheese so they'll add the powdered geo into their milk when they are making the cheese but it also is one of the fungi that occurs naturally in milk so if you create the right environment and you again farm carefully you can actually culture the Geo from your milk on the outside of the cheese and it's very as we can see with this close-up view it's very proteolytic and it's very lip oolitic which means it has lots and lots of enzymes that break down proteins and fats so when it grows on the outside of the cheese right nothing you need to slow down just tossing words out like anyway you're right you can see how it can send its little roots down into the paste of the cheese and the enzymes within it break it down and you get that lovely creamy breakdown which i think is part of the part of the beauty of this cheese really it's interesting you say that because um I'm totally with you on this because a lot of cheese makers think of that a slip coat and begin to see it as a fault of the cheese as you lose big as the lose the integrity between the what you might think of the rind and if that's right we're here and the cheese and to me you know when you get strong stick but that's where the flavors really bond absolutely and you know every correctness in my book is a matter of degree if you you can definitely get problematic slip coat where your rinds are falling straight off your teases and believe me and our work at Neal's are doing while we were learning how to write from this cheese correctly and Joe was working out the make and you know figuring out exactly how to get it balanced we had some Ennis logs with the rhymes that fell straight off of them because we didn't dry them enough so it's not too much lip code is good but when you get that real breakdown it adds a whole nother level of flavor so tell us so we're tasting a goat's milk cheese cheese this is a farm that's probably I'd know I've just governed its nitish Fiedler's Uche which I remember for my Adrian mold days it's never me and basically and they have a farm on the Thorp estate which is a fantastic looking one of those big great boxes with five levels and windows and arms at the side and it's an amazing place and they had a dairy farm there and they turn it over to goats and do you know what breed of goats it's actually a combination and one of the things that they were working on really recently was actually breeding in golden Guernsey's which are interesting because they are a very rare breed of Jason Argonaut um so this cheese obviously echoes the center to range those those logs of five six inches long very fragile when they're when they're made when the cheese is is only just holding itself together and then you get the mold building outside the drying out gives them the rigidity that allows them to sort of mature into but with this cheese you are expecting the goat to live on you the flavor so tell me tell us about how the raw milk would be would change the flavor what is the raw milk doing here that it allows this to come on as it has well you know in many ways I think I remember selling Ennis when I started working at Neal's right dairy back in 2005 and to be honest it was a cheese that we brought out and put on the counter and never sold and then at the end of the day we would pack them all back into the cold room and bring them out again the next day and I think one of the things that characterized that cheese is it was still made with raw milk but it used a lot of really strong starters and a lot of really strong ripening cultures and instead of that beautiful Gio Ryan it had it quite a thick penisula Ryan which was very white and very flat and over time I think what Joe and more recently his partner Amy I managed to do is really harness and make the most of the microbes in that raw milk to actually drive the cheese-making process so now instead of using starter cultures purchased from a culture house they're actually using the way from the previous days make to sour the next day's milk so there's no added Geo in this cheese there's no added lactic acid bacteria it's like a sourdough culture but for cheese and again this is very similar to what they do in France so let's let's put some basic words on on that story all lactic acid producing bacteria which are the starter cultures of any cheese began their lives in milk right and hundreds of years ago what they used to do is used to take milk from yesterday allow it to sour overnight exactly like a sourdough and impregnate the milk knock you like thank you boo milk of the next day and if you're carrying over your way and it started out now what happened when they started throwing chemists at this or microbiologist as they went in got those bacteria and started creating little library of the bacteria so they can create pure starters and it gave people more choice but you incur if I'm wrong here Brahmin but I think when you're looking at a natural way starter you're looking at maybe 40 to 50 different types of bacteria on a out of a packet ways a starter as in something that's like a bit like a sachet that you've got from a bacterial house you're looking at three to six strains and what I would say is that not all cheese is developed to use whey starters originally and in fact you if you look at the British cheeses way starters were a disaster for them in the late 19th century when people were trying to make cheddar more consistence they looked at the use of way to try to do that and in fact they found that it introduced tons of defects and bad flavors into the milk because the way wasn't soured so Scott is from they weren't using starters and so you think about when you hear about the way in which British cheese was made they always talk about you milk the cows in the evening the milk sits in the dairy overnight and then you add the warm morning milk on top of that what they don't dwell on enough I think is the fact that that milk was not refrigerated and it was probably sitting there at close to 20 degrees from the dairy and that memory ripening step allowed the bacteria that were naturally present in the milk to begin to grow and then so in the warm milk from the next morning was added that was that was racing away and ready to be made into cheese and again you know as far as they were concerned at that point there was no such thing as bacteria and that was just the way that she's worked and you know there's some very interesting old accounts of people making British cheese in the late 18th century where they encounter this common problem that I think everyone in the cheese world knows all too well of blown cheese and which they call heaving pockets of gas developing inside the cheese am I going to say coliforms or chloroform's or that kind of thing yep yeah and they make no pockets of gas in exactly same way as beer and breads and that kind of thing except you and that often develops over the course of ripening so you can make a cheese it looks fine and then two months down the road it's you know it expands like a balloon and the way they explained it then was that the cheese maker had made the cheese too quickly and they hadn't got all the air out of the milk and that makes absolutely no sense now with our modern understanding of what clostridia are and where they come from but the really interesting thing was that they had but they had no technologies man exam anyway what they realized was that they had put the solution to this problem they said was to make the cheese more slowly so that the air could get out of the milk but when you look at that now with what we understand now these plus Trudy a bacteria a really sensitive to acid and so if you make the cheese more slowly describe it and then that inhibits the growth of the Clostridium later on so they they had the right solution but for completely the wrong way but you know if you look at the history of cheese make anything it's a series of trials and errors or accidents and Charles an errors and that's what they did yeah and I think if we went back 300 years we would find that there was a huge amount of faulty cheese on the market but there was also probably a lot of really excellent cheese on the market and you can see in that context why the role of the cheese factor the person who went from farm to farm and tasted the keys and decided what to buy was really critical couple of questions here well firstly I'm a bro is bring attention to family you've written a fantastic book called reinventing the wheel and it has a fuller name which I've written down because it's about 12 words long milk microbes and the fight for real cheese so if anybody out there wants to know more about what Bromley knows it's often Amazon I believe isn't it so the big question which we always need to know do you have a parent for a cheese like this I mean we often serve cheese at the beginning of the meal and goat cheese in particular is a perfect thing to have sort of whet your appetite and just because of the structure of meals we often find that we eat this cheese with champagne if we're if we're enjoying ya know I have to say for me I would be drifting into an apple juicy kind of combination with this that that's where I go but this unlike me not to have something alcoholic in front of me right right let's so let's let's talk about the flavor here now this before because because I knew we were tasting raw milk cheeses I felt to myself I had to be more attentive you know I had to find out what to me and this is quite an interesting one because there's quite a lot of acidity but in almost like an electric way reminded me when I was a kid I spurting the tongue on the top of battery and I think that you in your write-up you've got hazelnut in there I think it is but that's kind of kind of deep getting grass and a sourness and obviously the the goat's milk and also I was getting kind of warmth straw and obviously a bit mushroom and that's that's sort of my combination but it's it's a weird some cold warm things yeah no I think it has a great balance and you know what one of the things I love about this cheese is when we get together with Joe on a Friday morning and taste through the cheeses that I come down there really are differences from batch to batch so even though it's using this continuous starter all the same bacteria depending on the way the acidity has developed or the conditions in the ripening room you can get these day-to-day variations that are all variations of flavor but not necessarily variations in level of quality with this cheese I get a bomb and and many of the industries I get a sort of pomegranate pith sort of aroma you know that white stuff that's in between the little something I really I enjoy in this context it's funny it's funny because we're about to move up the etta bar which has that classic white baby sick thing in there too and you're going how do I like this because that's not something let's talk about the edge of that yeah I mean okay let's show it and do you want to introduce it absolutely so this is this as you say is the sort of grandfather of Swiss cheese's it's very interesting because in many ways it's one of the most tightly written specifications for for any of the classic cheese's of Europe it can only be made at Al posh in the summertime it has to be made in a copper cauldron with wooden um you know with with a wood fire underneath to heat it up and it also has to be made using weigh starters so you know again not the same sort of way starter as the Innes the similar principle but because you're taking that way off sweet during the make you then incubate it overnight until it's very very sour and add that in the next morning when you're ready to go mm-hmm now I weigh starters had that brother name back slopping don't they were just like the urban dictionary doesn't like that one and they just rather one packed out so our parish in this context means it's basically got to be a summer cheese and this finish is quite specific it's May 10th to October 10th there's no up the hill and and this occasion depending different four different cheeses that's 1,000 meters or above and you know they make about 14 tons of cheese a year which sounds like a lot but actually in the great scheme of things it's absolutely tiny I have a brother who is obsessed by Monroe bagging does that mean anything to you that's fine climbing 3,000 feet and so basically every single this Jesus always made at the top of a Monroe to put it in context so and your good copper you know again these are this trial and error it knows we're lining these cauldrons of copper because they have a sterilizing effect which they would have possibly not known except by accident and they've got they're making these in their closed chalets so the smoke is going up into the rafters and that impacts on the flavor of disease so all these incidents these all little characteristics of the cheese-making I'm contributing to to what it and one of them away it stops being the cheese you're looking for absolutely and you know I think the requirement to use whey starters is really important you know coming back to the raw milk aspect of that the requirement to use whey starters is a really fundamental part of the character of this cheese that you know those are the bacteria that are gonna grow in the milk and create the flavors as the cheese's are maturing so the bacteria are there they die and burst open as the cheese matures because it's a very inhospitable environment for them and then they release those enzymes that go to work on the fats and proteins and create that really intense I'm just asked is that the kind of thing you say over the counter in Neal's Yard oh he's got great bacterial deaths lots of exploding enzymes into the cheese give him 12 months and the proteolysis just goes back and it is extraordinary to think that that is the process of getting the enzymes that you need to deliver flavor is to kill the bacteria and allow those enzymes a it's a fascinating concept and you can see why you know Cathedral City doesn't want to talk about that yeah well I mean when when those flavors come from sachets it's very you can argue that the milk being raw or pasteurized doesn't matter as much as it should you know I think this is one of the key things about raw milk that I that I kind of think it's important to talk about is that raw milk has really become a quality mark on people's counters you know customers will come in and say oh I want a raw milk cheese and this one's better because it's made with raw milk and I think if we're looking at cheeses that are made from raw milk that has has no interesting microbes within it or we're looking at cheeses that may have interesting microbes within them but then are inoculated with really high doses of starter cultures with really dominant flavours and ripening cultures with really dominant flavours the quality of the milk the rawness of the milk doesn't really matter it could be it could be Ryan name only raw in name only I mean you've also got raw I mean few weeks ago we had Jamie Montgomery on there on the cheap she's night on a Saturday talking of a penalty he was saying that he thinks that raw milk has its biggest impact in the young cheeses when there is so much less going on and as soon as you introduce washed rinds or external molds or flavorings or whatever the raw milk begins to be covered up less relevant I don't know where you will do that but it's not as important it's not as important I agree with him insofar as I I think that with things is a very interesting thing about washed-rind cheese's is that of those wash grind bacteria are what we call from a direct they survive pasteurization so you could actually be if you're just washing the rind with water but it's a pasteurized cheese and I think being is a perfect example of this the Irish being on earth is it next week Averell next week of the week after you know you could wash the cheese just with water it's a pasteurized cheese but then those microbes will those bacteria will survive in the milk and they'll grow on the outside of the cheese and that can be a taste of terroir as well um I so at the same time I think one of the things that you do get in those raw milk cheeses as they age is that you'll have you know you could wipe out some interesting bacteria as you're making the cheese and then as in the pasteurized version they're not gonna have a chance to grow to high numbers and then they want release enzymes and create the flavors if they do survive pastures you know if they do if they're not pasteurized then you can then experience those within you know more and more as the cheese matures so you know I'll talk to Jamie about that one next time I see you so I've got another question which I have to ask pushing back against Romans king and we mentioned it or as well back and the world cheese awards which is a credible awards organization one of my favorites has it's been won by pasteurized cheeses something like eight out of the last nine years one of which is a favorite of yours which is last year's winner which is the David Graham elza's thank you very much Roe Gerber blue and he makes a pasteurized and and unpasteurized version on the won this year or last year was a passed price version so how do you sort of respond to that um I think that we have cheeses that can taste of milk and raw materials and then their cheeses that taste a process and in many cases the cheeses that taste of process have big bold flavors that people respond to very very quickly and directly when they taste them and you know they talk about wines being made for competitions a lot of the time you know you talk to you see these these wines that are designed to win competitions because they're big they're juicy you know they've got a really you know they're the sort of wines that are designed to stand out of a crowd but actually when you sit down with them you might end up tired of them a little bit more quickly they're they're designed to taste not to drink and I think one of the things that I love about well-made interesting raw milk cheese is that it it has layers within it that you can sort of live with and discover over time not to say that all raw milk cheese has those but I think really the very best ones but I wouldn't say that competition winners either I mean the other other question that's bound to come up on raw milk is of course Joe Schneider Stilton which is not allowed to be called Stilton because it's raw milk and this story behind that so we understand is that in 1989 or something somebody got ill at a party I believe it was a local MP is that right many people getting ill and there's a very interesting scientific paper that was written looking at this outbreak that was associated with starting cheese which I can send you or you can post on this eiseley about that is that they never actually found whatever causative organism was responsible for this in any Stilton so it was it wasn't anything we're shaking enough on the production side that they decided it wasn't worth the risk and I think there's this real perception that Stilton is inherently a dangerous cheese that it has a long slow acidification and it has a low you know it has a low final acidity a high pH at the end and that can allow pathogens if they're there to grow to high numbers now you could say exactly the same thing of the in its log it has a really really long slow acidification and if you look underneath that rind it's quite low acidity and I think one of the big things that we have to remember about Stilton is that farmhouse Stilton really disappeared in night in the 1930s and once you start combining milk from many many different you know sources and are mixing that together to make cheese on the large scale making that style of cheese because really really challenging yeah I mean this is something Carol Hopkins has just asked which I have to say something and I do believe I'm abusing to your point is that our unpasteurized cheese more variable in maybe texture as well and I mean variable I'm making necessarily a corseted point it could just be variable in the sense of more likely to get widest very famous it's a really really interesting and good question I would say not necessarily but it requires a grip on the technical side of the make that not very many people have and I think maybe a perfect illustration of that is the illustration actually be in his log where when Joe and Amy act they have been making raw milk cheese for a long time and it was quite variable from batch to batch son had more mold on them some had less you know some were much better than others and then you know Amy Amy showed up and decided that they were gonna take it to the next level and use a way starter and I think all of us really braced ourselves to think you know here we go this is gonna go from variable to extremely variable and you know we think it's the right thing to do so let's go for it but you know hold on to your hats and actually but she's got much much less variable at that point this way starters were really active they were really raring to go and you know this is a cheese made from about the hundredth generation of a way starter and along the way it's been incredibly you know different batches will have slightly different flavors but I would say in the great scheme of of cheeses raw milk or pasteurized it's a very very consistent one and I would cute that all to the artfulness of Joe and Amy and their and their understanding of how to make cheese I'm talking about understand as she's pregnant right now yes we can hear Sasha in the background is that well that's absolutely fine on that note thank you very much it's been amazing to talk to you i find raw milk its controversy its excitement its variable its you have to pay attention not everybody wants it some people think it's the complete ends of the earth so it i think it'll go on being a challenge and and the love is yet I hope well I - I said oh thank you very much thank you very much magic thing of saying next week we have Irish Jesus Worcester on we're tasting Moline Duras in Gabon and kissing last week I thought we were doing drove I have checked now we are definitely doing drew of the week after so that's matching Brandi have you got any top tips on matching Brandi there you go Ronen it's the real flamethrower of the fortunately driven I are quite capable of that so on behalf of me thank you very much Bronwyn say goodbye and on behalf of me thank you very much thank you to the Academy cheese if you want to know more about cheese if you want to know more from me my next webinar course begins next Tuesday Tuesday the 9th it's three Tuesdays in a Wednesday three Wednesdays two-hour sessions in a row I need a cup of multiple bookings so maybe you can be an academy of cheese on your way to master cheese apart from that we've got a lot to be learning in the Academy cheese as well so you can do it at your own pace in your own time and hopefully sometime in the next couple of months we'll be bringing you bums on seats courses with our excellent training partners all around the UK and abroad including Portugal and Portugal where you can now learn about cheese from some of the best cheese knowledge brains in the world so lots of love from me see you next week for the Irish it's going to be fantastic that was Tuesday night is cheese night