Although all of our cheeses are aged at least a few days we consider aged cheeses to be at least 4 weeks old. We divide our cheeses into the categories of Non Aged, Short Aged, Medium Aged and Long Aged.
Creating cheese is a process of reducing the amount of water and water soul-able elements naturally found in milk to form a semi solid mass that we know as cheese. This mass made primarily of proteins, fats, sugars, and minerals is perfect for growing a micro flora of beneficial bacteria, yeasts, and molds which will greatly affect the final flavor and appearance of the cheese. Nurturing the microflora of cheese is part of the cheese aging process commonly refereed to by its French name Affinage.
Affinage and Art of Cheese Aging.
The old world tradition of making cheese was divided in two. The first part of the process was performed by the farmer that would care for the animals, milk them, and produce wheels of cheese. Farmers tending to animals and making cheese had little time to properly Affinage cheeses. To ensure that the cheeses were properly cared for, specialty artisans called Affineurs would care for the cheeses as they matured. The art form that the Affineurs practiced is called Affinage. Affinage is a critical step in all cheese making other than for Fresh Cheeses. The skill and artistry of an Affineur can greatly affect the final cheese and thus the art of Affinage is highly prized.
Through the use of different aging techniques cheeses, can take on different appearances, aromas, textures and flavors. For this reason Gourmands, professional Cheese Makers, Fromagers, and Cheesemongers often classify cheese by the Affinage techniques utilized their production.
To perform Affinage, an Affineur must have the intuition to perform specific actions at specific times. As the specific actions and times may vary by batch of cheese the act of Affinage is an art form. The art of Affinage can be compared to painting, where the cheese is the blank canvas and actions governed by microbiology and chemistry are the paints and brushes.
When a meal is cooked the Chef takes products that are either dying or dead and prepares them in a way that is appealing. When creating a cheese from pasteurized milk we are taking a lifeless nutrient-rich fluid that we then infuse with life, before remove enough moisture to create something that can be held with open hands. This cheese with its micro flora will grow and mature with time. As the cheese ages it will go though many transformations and stages before reaching its peek of quality and flavor. It is at this point that the Affineur will put the cheese up for sale.
As all natural cheeses are living foods, great care is required in their production and Affinage. It is not uncommon for a wheel of cheese to be brushed, washed, and turned hundreds of times during aging. Like other life forms, cheeses that are not handled carefully can develop defects that take away from the desired character of the cheese.
It is amazing that all Cheeses are produced from such a limited number of ingredients yet result in such a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, textures, aromas, and flavors.
Cheese by Aging Length
Ranging from ready for eat within days or aged for up to a month.
View Non Aged Cheeses
We consider short aged cheeses as any cheese that is aged for 1-2 months before being ready for sale.
View Short Aged Cheese
Pasti Enak classifies Medium Aged Cheeses as those aged for 2 to 9 months.
View Medium Aged Cheeses
We consider any cheese that is aged for a minimum of 9 months to be long aged. Some Cheese like Parmesan or Caprino Romano are aged for 1 to 2 years before they develop their characteristic flavors.
View Long Aged Cheese
Although we consider some of our cheese as without Affinage, all cheeses require at least a little care to ensure their quality. Fresh Cheeses require proper packing and must be held under the correct environmental conditions to ensure their quality.
View Fresh Cheeses
Washed rind cheeses, as the name implies, are washed. We utilize a variety of washes with specific microbial compositions that result in unique flavors and rind appearances.
A variety of molds are utilized in cheese making, most notably Camemberti mold that produces the characteristic fluffy white mold on Camembert. Another noteworthy mold is Penicillium roqueforti used in the production of blue cheeses.
Flavored cheese are any cheese that have flavoring added to them. Flavored cheeses often have other Affinage techniques performed on them to accent the washes utilized in their production.