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NEED TO KNOW
Specialty/artisan cheese encompasses many different styles and
flavors. Many industrial sized producers put out "artisan" lines, but a
true artisan or specialty cheese should maintain certain qualities and
meet certain criteria for producers to truly call it specialty or artisan.
What makes it special
Chris Roelli, Master Cheesemaker and owner of Roelli Cheese in
Shullsburg, WI, says that the volume in which a cheese is produced, the
manner and process used to make the cheese and the way producers
age cheese are the primary factors that contribute to the specialness of
a particular cheese. Roelli adds that cheese doesn't necessarily need to
be made in small batches, as long as it's handled in a traditional manner.
Small batch, handmade cheeses
usually qualify as specialty, but
the aging process makes a big
difference, as well. "We have a
specifically built facility to cellar
cure all of our cheeses," Roelli
says. "So all of our specialty brand
cheese is cellar cured on wood
boards, in open air and it's never
packaged until it's ready to be
sold to the final consumer. For me
that's really what makes it special."
WISCONSIN MILK MARKETING BOARD
The milk used in the cheese
making process represents the
foundation of the process. For
"special," the milk needs to live
Master cheesemaker and owner
up to the task. Artisan cheeseof Roelli Cheese, Chris Roelli.
makers who use quality milk
that's been a part of their process
for long periods of time know they can count on the milk to maintain
the highest standards throughout the process. "My milk comes from a
local producer, one local producer that we've been involved with for a
number of years and we haul their milk. Even when it's not coming to
my factory, we haul their milk to the bottling plant," Roelli says.
The market for artisan and specialty cheese remains healthy. "I think it's
growing and it's been growing progressively for the last 10 or 15 years,"
Roelli says. "And I don't see any signs of it letting up." The specialty
cheese growth runs parallel to the growth of the overall specialty food
market. Consumers pay more attention to the foods they eat today.
"When you talk about specialty and artisan food, and it's not just
cheese, people really want to take ownership of their food these
days," Roelli says. "They're paying attention to what they're eating, as
opposed to just eating what the grocery stores are trying to sell them
and what the restaurants are pushing in front of them. They want
to know what's in their food and they want to know all about it, how
it's made. The consumer for artisan cheese and artisan food is an
Bold, flavorful, hand-crafted foods
will continue to draw more American
consumers as time goes on.
The foodie movement dictates that a diner will no longer settle for
bland food. Bold, flavorful, hand-crafted foods will continue to draw
more American consumers as time goes on. "The artisan and specialty
food industry as a whole has been tremendously successful for a
number of years and it transfers to the cheese side of things, as well,"
To survive in today's business climate, all business people must utilize
technology in one way or another, and cheesemakers are no different.
While small batch, hand-crafted cheeses carry the specialty tag,
cheesemakers still utilize technology as long as it fits into their overall
mission and goals.
"I don't want to use any technology if it's going to add any artificial
processes into the equation that aren't needed," Roelli says. "When I
work with my milk, the ingredients that I use are only what are needed
for the production. They're all natural. There are no artificial ingredients, no preservatives, nothing like
that. But there is some technology
out there that we look at."
Similar criteria used to decide
whether a cheese is special
or artisan applies to deciding
whether or not to use certain
technologies. "Is it natural?
Is it a natural process?"
Roelli asks. "In a nonartificial way, does it
create a better product?
That's really what I
look for when it comes
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of instore - April 2016
instore - April 2016
Editor's Note - SNACKING: Have a second?
Table of Contents
News - On our radar
Spotlight - By the Numbers: Donuts
Cover story - Snacking evolved
Commissary Insider - Insight Insider: Good to go fresh aims to please
Food Safety - Pathogen Detection
Equipment Weighing the options
Product Category Spotlight: Ethnic, easy and healthy
Packaging: Peace of mind with tamper-evident technology
Operations and Logistics: Traceability in the supply chain
Product Knowledge - Need to Know: Specialty cheese
Merchandising - On Display: Independence Day
Speciality Insights - Consider Gluten-free Bakery
Equipment & Packaging - Latest Innovation: Rapid-cook ovens
instore - April 2016