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Nettle Cheeses

20 July International Cheese Day

Blessed be the cheesemakers, for they shall inherit the earth!” ~ Life of Brian

There are lots of types of cheese in the market and the cheese making businesses are blooming worldwide. The biggest cheese consumer countries are in Europe, in addition the tradition of cheese making as well a part of many European cultures.

Did you know that nettle is essential in many cheeses?

There are some award winner cheeses – lots of them from the UK – that contain nettle (Urtica dioica) leaves, but nettle is more common in other not specifically nettle cheeses too. Why?

Cheese makers use nettle in the coagulation process of milk. The chemical content found in nettle is used to acidify the milk and lower its pH in order to make the curd, separating solid and fluid fraction of milk. Using nettle rennet is an ancient form of milk coagulation. It’s simple to make, easy to use and a great vegetarian alternative to animal-derived rennet. 

There are two main types of rennet: animal and plant based rennet. The primary enzyme (chymosin) in animal rennet is collected from the lining of the fourth stomach of a newborn calf. The enzyme is produced there to help baby cows digest milk. It can be a problem for vegetarians. That is why the use of ancient nettle rennet is coming back. When this type of rennet is used, it makes the cheese vegetarian.

Let’s see some nettle cheeses that worth mentioning:

Cornish Yarg Cheese is wrapped in nettle leaves and allowed to age about 6 weeks, which will result a semi hard cheese made from grass rich Cornish milk. The cheeses are sold still wrapped in the nettle leaves, under which the crust of the cheese is green with grey, white or green mould. Inside, the pale yellow cheese is creamy under the crust, firm towards the middle, and slightly crumbly in the middle. The crust is edible. The cheese has a slightly lemony taste.

Northumberland Nettle Cheese is made with cows’ milk with the addition of real nettles. It is made with vegetarian rennet, and the addition of nettles encourages the beautiful creaminess of the Gouda-influenced cheese. This cheese is matured for 3 months which allows the subtle flavor to develop. It’s fabulous with courgette on a vegetarian pizza!

Teifi Nettle Cheese is made with nettles that are added during the cheese making process. The nettle has a light herby and distinct flavor that makes it a very unique cheese. This award-winning artisan cheese is made from the finest organic raw milk.

Happy International Cheese Day!

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