Ireland has done a lot to protect their artisanal cheesemaking traditions with the Irish Raw Milk Cheese Presidium. This interview with one of its members, Peter Thomas, talks about the debate over unpasteurized milk, and what cheesemakers have been doing to help.
Cheese has a long tradition in Ireland, with cheesemaking on the island documented back to the 8th century. Tanag and Grus, pressed skimmed-milk cheeses, the fresh cheese Faiscre Grotha and acid-curdled Tath are just a few examples of the extraordinary diversity of traditional Irish cheeses. Yet since the 1960s, this variety of flavors has been gradually supplanted by standardized industrial production.
The Irish Raw Milk Cheese Presidium was founded in 2005 to protect artisanal production, and involves a dozen producers around the country. “The Presidium is highly influential on Irish cheese production,” says one of the Presidium cheesemakers, Peter Thomas. “lt offers a platform for these local, unique, good cheeses, supporting producers in all their efforts. Unlike others in Ireland, the raw milk cheeses give the cheesemaker a chance to go back to basics, be more hands-on and preserve traditional methods, all while not requiring the expensive cheesemaking technology of some cheeses.”