Irish Raw Milk Cheeses: a successful campaign story on display at Cheese 2019

Slow Food presents the 12th edition of the world’s premier cheese event in the Italian city of Bra, from September 20-23. This year’s theme: “Natural is Possible”

The legality of making cheese with raw milk in Ireland is the result of a long and ultimately successful campaign, while in other countries it’s still not permitted. Slow Food has always been on the side of producers in this political battle, where the knowledge of traditional production methods, biodiversity and flavors are all at stake. For this reason, Irish raw milk cheeses will be present at Cheese 2019, the international event dedicated to natural cheeses produced with raw milk and without artificial enzymes in sachets. The event gathers cheese producers and exhibitors from more than 30 countries. Its last edition in 2017 saw a record 300,000 visitors.

Cloonconra Moiley Organic and Young Buck blue cheese—both members of the Slow Food Presidium for Irish Raw Milk Cheeses—will be among the cheeses tasted at Ireland and Australia: Raw Milk Cheesemakers who Resist, dedicated to the producers of the “resistance”, who Slow Food supports in their struggle for legitimacy.

The Slow Food Presidium for Irish Raw Milk Cheeses covers many different types of cheeses from across the island of Ireland. The Presidium is made up of eleven artisan dairies that work with their own distinctive style and techniques, but share a common commitment to producing a safe, high-quality product using raw milk from their own cows or goat or milk from nearby herds. The production protocol states that dairy herds should feed on pasture for eight or nine months of the year; that each batch of milk for cheesemaking come from a maximum of three milkings; and that the distance between a milking parlor and dairy is minimal. The Presidium encompasses a number of cheeses considered ‘ambassadors’ for Irish raw milk cheese, selected on the basis of their taste qualities. The purpose of the project is to encourage and support raw milk cheese producers throughout Ireland and to increase appreciation for their products. It seeks to celebrate the distinctive merits of Irish raw milk cheese, the environment that gives rise to it, the artisans and their varied production styles.

Texts naming and describing the cheeses made on Ireland’s lush green pastures date back to the 8th century, but the descriptions and names are understandably vague. What we do know is that Irish cheesemakers once produced a wide variety of cheeses: Tanag and Grus were hard pressed skim milk cheeses, Faiscre Grotha was a fresh type of pressed curd cheese and Tath was made from sour milk curds. The diversity of these products can also be gauged by the coagulants referred to in old texts: animal rennet, both calf and lamb, was used, but also Irish moss (carraigin) and bog violet (mothan). In the 1970s an association of artisan producers reintroduced cheesemaking on a small scale in rural Ireland and this soon grew to include thirty small dairies. Using the same raw materials that served the ancient cheesemakers of Ireland so well, they began to make a diverse range of new cheeses from local, fresh raw milk. Each cheesemaker developed products that reflected their own personalities, experiences and interests; today these cheeses are not only associated with a particular place but with an individual cheesemaker. Irish specialist cheeses have won international acclaim, but only a handful of the “new traditionalists” still use raw milk in the production of their unique cheeses.

Check the latest updates on the program and book activities.

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Cheese Press Office

Slow Food – Non-Italian

Paola Nano (+39 329 8321285); Giulia Capaldi (+39 342 8278485)

Slow Food – Italian

Valter Musso (+39 335 7422962); Alessia Pautasso (+39 342 8641029);

Elisa Virgillito (+39 345 2598615)

City of Bra: Elena Martini; Erica Asselle; +39 0172 438278;

Cheese 2019 is organized by the City of Bra and Slow Food with the support of the Piedmont Region. The event has been made possible by the support of companies who believe in the values and objectives of the event, including the Official Partners: Agugiaro&Figna Molini, BBBell, Consorzio di Tutela della Mozzarella di Bufala Campana Dop e Consorzio della Ricotta di Bufala Campana Dop, CR Bra, Egea, Lurisia, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pastificio Di Martino, Quality Beer Academy, Reale Mutua.

Slow Food is a global network of local communities founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions and counteract the rise of fast food culture. Since its founding, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people in over 160 countries, working to ensure that everyone has access to good, clean and fair food. 

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