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Pig cheese?

This is a really odd question but I have always wondered why cheese made from pig's milk does not exist (or if it does why is it not widely consumed). There is yalk cheese, buffalo cheese, goat and sheep cheese...but why no pig cheese?

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  1. I thought Head Cheese was made from Pigs Milk, but someone I work with says it's not cheese at all.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Infomaniac

      I've always wondered what head cheese is myself! I just looked it up on wikipedia. Head cheese is a terrine made out of the head of a pig...yup!

      1. re: mielimato

        All you gotta do is take a look at a cross section of it in the deli case. You can just about pick out the body parts...

        1. re: coolbean98

          I'm a big fan of head cheese, especially the spicy variety. I asked the deli guy in my local market why they didn't have head cheese and he said it was because slicing it grossed everybody out! For heaven's sake.

          1. re: Pat Hammond

            I love head cheese as well. I put all jellied meat terrine preparations into the headcheese class, even if they don't have head meat in them. There are so many different types. I think the blood and tongue is great one, so smotth, lush and rich. Also suelze, which has vinegar and finely chopped peppers is really great too, with a bit of a tang to go with the meat. I make a sort of brawn, an English term, which is homemade style of headcheese terrine. The French call it fromage de tete.

            I'm going to have so much fun when this winter as I work on recipes for a charcuterie/smokehouse I will be opening next spring.

            1. re: Pat Hammond

              Can't reply directly to you JMF, so I'll reply to myself! I make a reasonable facsimile with just pig's feet. The jelly produced by them is unbelievably stiff. You could play catch with that stuff. I like vinegar in it too.

              1. re: Pat Hammond

                If you ever had to clean a slicer after slicing head cheese, or worse, souse, you would empathize with the employees. It's very sticky and hard to remove, and you certainly can't slice anything else without the residue getting all over the next meat.

                1. re: jacquelyncoffey

                  Why would you use a slicer on head cheese? It's meant to be sliced thick, hence, only a knife is really suitable for the job.

                  Are there really folks that eat head cheese sliced thin like lunch meat?

                  1. re: bkhuna


                    I eat it like lunch meat - several slices along with other meat - on a sandwich. The brand I've been buying of late has a coarse chop, and low proportion of gelatin. A thick knife slice would weigh close to 1/4 pound, and be overly chewy. Other styles might be better as thick slices, but I prefer this thin.

              2. re: coolbean98

                Hi Pat,

                I like headcheese too. Because it was something my family bought, it never occurred to me that it contained, well ... pigs head.

                I was wondering if you would put your recipe for the jellied pigs feet on the homecooking board? My mom made this and I could never find a recipe for it in Polish cookbooks.

                Yes, I know it is just boiled pigs feet, but I'm not sure of how it gets from foot to the jellied version. We ate it with vinegar poured on top. I loved that stuff.

                This post started me thinking about headcheese, so I started another thread with my questions.


                You know, in the above link, there is a link to wikipedia describing the different versions of headcheese. Some countries DO call it pig cheese. So I wasn't so off when I thought this post might be about headcheese.

                1. re: rworange

                  It's not really a recipe, it's just one of my "little bit of this a little bit of that" concoctions, and it's never the same twice. But I'll work up something for you before long. Thanks for asking.

            2. re: Infomaniac

              Just a confirmation and to reiterate this, head cheese has nothing to do with cheese of any sort, in any way. If you're interested in reading more look up the word aspic.

              1. re: Infomaniac

                Head cheese can be made from many cuts of meat, and don't need to come from the head. We made head cheese with chicken, pork and veal, adding a dusting of gelatin between layers, it was gently simmered in a dish towel, then pressed under a weight. The presence of gelatin was virtually non-existent. The finished product was beautiful layered solid meat. Great stuff!

              2. They don't produce a lot of milk.

                Think of the animals that most of the cheese comes from ... they have those udders full of milk ... no udder, not a lot of milk. Cows have the biggest udders ... therefor, most of the cheese gets made from it.

                Gosh, I thought you just came up with another name for headcheese and was thinking ... awful name ... then again, that could answer the pig cheese question ... it was hard enough to get people to accept goat cheese.

                4 Replies
                1. re: rworange

                  How can "They don't produce a lot of milk" possibly be true? They raise 8 to 12 offspring to what mass in what time? They may have less milk volume than a cow, but certainly no less than a goat. We have goat cheese....

                  1. re: bgbirdsey

                    Goats have large3 udders. Pig's don't

                    1. re: rworange

                      I would not care to be the person who attempted to milk a pig. Cows just kick; these things can kill you. And then eat you.

                    2. re: bgbirdsey

                      Also, the number of teats is far greater in a pig, distributing the milk so that there's less in each. A goat or sheep has only 2, cows have 4.

                  2. As a child growing up, I can vividly remember my German grandma boiling a pig's head in a big pot on the stove, starting her prep for head cheese. Might have scared some kids off the stuff, but I love it (the homemade variety, anyway) to this day.

                    My Irish grandma, on the other hand, called such food "trough slop" (even while she proceeded to boil some mystery gray meat herself).

                    1. Pardon to RWORANGE (op.cit.) but Pigs have twice as many nipples as cows. AND, they have 10 (TEN) times as many offspring as cows do at one time. So to say that they don't have enough milk is obviously wrong. I'm also wondering why there is no pig cheese produced in the modern world. Perhaps it has to do with the diet of pigs vs. ruminant animals? I've sampled hundreds of cheeses from world wide sources.....I'd love to try some from some Ms. Piggy.........ds

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: dillonsparks

                        My 2006 answer had nothing to do with nipples, but udder size. And even though pig may have ten times as many offspring, they are significantly smaller than a calf, lamb or kid.

                        Also, looking at it from the perspective of pig milk, doing a Google search turns up a lot of hits about supplementing sow milk. Sows don't even produce enough for their babies. According to this from Purina Feed "Starvation is the main reason why 25-30% of pigs born alive never survive to weaning age"

                        So you are dealing with an animal that can't even feed all of its offspring, is going to be nasty about the the whole business ... hard to catch and probably will bite you to boot ... then there are those short stools you would need as someone mentioned.

                        I think the fat composition in the milk is interesting. Does that mean it wouldn't form into cheese?
                        that mean it wouldn't form into cheese?

                        1. re: rworange

                          I think it's the protein content that's important with cheese--you can make cheese w/ fat-free milk--but it's the proteins that are coagulated when cheese is made.

                          1. re: happycat

                            Agreed - you can make paneer / cottage cheese from fat-free milk.

                            1. re: Paulustrious

                              I think part of it is people in Europe and China (the two places where pigs are historically raised in large numbers post 700 AD) both already had three large milk producers with China having a fourth so there just was no need. Instead hogs were maximized for meat and lard productions both of which are extremely high demand items in a pre-industrial society. Yes, I am sure that if someone was interested enough they could have cross bred pigs to have one with a large milk capacity and long legs, after all we've cross bred to produce just about every other type of specialized domestic animal, but there was no demand as we already got milk from so many other sources.

                          2. re: rworange

                            Only total mass of all offspring at weening matters, not number or udder size.

                        2. maybe it doesn't have the a protein content level similar to other animals.

                          1. Quick Google came up with a similar post. (I see this OP is from 2006).
                            Gives a scientific explanation (who knows how reliable the source is) of the composition of pigs milk. Something to do with the fat content of the milk being a product of its diet...similar to human milk.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: monku

                              That's a good point, for the most part out milk supplies tend to come from herbivores, pigs are ommnivorse like us so thier milk likey doesnt taste good (though I have some vauge memories of reading somthing to the effect that it was somtimes used as a substitute for human milk (in the days before formula) when the mother was unable to perform the function (usally from having died in childbirth) and family was too poor to afford a wet nurse. (oysh, I just got a flash of a really creepy sci-fi story I read, about a would where human milk was the standard commecial milk)
                              but getting back on track yeah, almost all milks humans drink come from herbivores. Cows, Sheep, goats, water buffalo, yaks, camels(middle east) , horses(mongolia), reindeer (lapland).... I heard of Tiger's milk, but that seems to be more of a medicine/aphrodisiac (puls I would imagine it is illegal now). Oh and from what I understand during a food shortage, the members of one of the Antarcitc reasrch teams, got into the habit of drinking seal milk (the said it tasted like a unsweetened, unflavored milkshake)

                            2. Mammals with udders lend themselves easier milking than mammals that don't.

                              There is also a safety issue. A pig can and will eat a human.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                similar to an answer I got from a farmer years ago when I asked why no pig milk. He told me only a fool would try to milk a pig.

                                  1. re: rednyellow

                                    Pigs already give us ham, bacon, and all kinds of meaty goodness. Expecting cheese to too is just wrong.

                                    1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                      The Pig Cheese Question spontaneously occurred to me, but of course, someone else had thought of it. To produce cheese you need a suitable rennet. So calf's rennet for cow's cheese, goat's rennet for goat cheese etc. Pig's rennet is not easily available - google only has 150 hits for it. I think rednyellow nailed it. My sole feeble reason for this post is a memory...

                                      What is the difference between involvement and commitment?

                                      Take a look at your breakfast. The chicken was involved, but the pig was committed.

                                  2. re: Brandon Nelson

                                    They will not normally and if you've spent time around pigs the only aggressive pigs are rutting males or she-hogs with piglets to protect. Rutting males are easily solved via castration (no balls no rutting plus the meat tastes less gamey) while a she-hog with small piglets can be put aside in a separate pen; even then a small milk feed piglet roasted on an open spit is a great treat. The big problem is any omnivore or carnivore mammal produces milk with a lot of saturated fats which does not age well (poly saturated fats tend to go rancid quickly) and so does not lend itself to cheese making and aging. Even cured pig meat such as the famed Jamón ibérico must be feed a very strict diet (usually grains like oats after it has been weened and then mostly oak acorns afterwards) so that the meat is high in antioxidants and extremely low in polysaturated fats. Even with a strict diet the hogs must be given lots of pasture land to roam so that the meat is well marbled and muscled.

                                    I'm certain that such a hog, should someone take the time and strict diet, would make a good cheese but the amount of milk and the difficulty in milking a pig would probably turn off any potential hog milk cheese maker. Since cows, sheep, and goats are so easy to milk and produce so much milk there is little incentive to breed milk pigs especially since their diet would have to be so controlled and expensive. Still a well aged and cured ham like Jamón ibérico is a rare treat and it is well worth the $80 per pound such meat costs.

                                    Another huge problem in the US is that the slaughter house rules in the US, which require expensive full time FDA inspectors, mean most of the American meat production suffers from a severe quality problem. If an animal is stress or excited when it is killed then the meat becomes tough and extremely chewy (this is true for all animals). Just transporting the animals can stress them so much that they release adrenaline and other hormones which toughen the meat. In Europe much of the slaughtering is still done small scale on the farm so that if an animal is stress & not relaxed they can just wait a day or to before killing it but in a factory farm there is a schedule to keep and the animals are killed stressed or not so that often cheap American meat is tough as well as high in saturated fat because they're feed nothing but cheap corn. Raising quality meat or making quality cheese is actually a very exact science which most American producers just do not appreciate but you really can taste the difference.

                                    1. re: oerdin

                                      An interesting, erudite, well thought-out post.

                                      As an aside, does non-castrated pork taste more like wild boar? North America and the USA in particular does not seem to favour gamey meats, which is a pity, because I do.

                                  3. The simplest reason is that pigs are not well behaved. It would be difficult to get a sow to sit still to be milked. Mother sows can also be very protective. Pigs just aren't terribly fond of being handled. Ruminants generally could not care less what you do, and many like to be handled and milked.
                                    There is also an economic element to it. Pigs reproduce and mature far faster than ruminants. A good sow can yield eight market ready pigs in less than a year, and she needs all her milk for that. That milk is more valuable as piglet food than it is as human food.
                                    There is also a historic element to it. Dairy production started among nomadic herders. It would be very difficult, perhaps impossible, to keep pigs in a nomadic lifestyle. Even once some of those nomadic cultures made the switch to permanent agricultural settlements they way pigs were raised did not lend itself to dairy production. Except in urban settings, pigs were not kept in close proximity to the home, or in a controlled environment. You go out in the morning and your cow is in her stall in the barn, but tracking down your sow is not so easy when you raise your pigs loose in the woods (the traditional method). It would be a big waste of time in a profession where there is already not enough daylight.

                                    1. Does anyone remember that Adam Sandler movie, "Meet the Parents"? There's a scene where he's spinning some yarn about milking chores on a farm, and when asked what animal, he stammers a bit then replies, "Cats!" and mimes pulling tiny little teats....for some reason that's what came to mind when I read this post (:

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: happycat

                                        Wasn't Brodrick an expert at getting cat's milk (in the WW1 episodes of Blackadder)?

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Yeah, Baldrick did say that in an episode of "Blackadder goes Fourth".
                                          Speaking of British comedy shows I remebered that an episode of the show "Look Around You" (the one on ghosts) claimed that extoplasm tasted like pig milk.

                                      2. Really excellent blog by a farmer explaining why pigs milk isn't used by humans

                                        Just one point ...

                                        "... pigs will on average produce 13 lbs of milk in a day as compared to cows that produce 65 lbs of milk on average per day. Pigs unlike cows cannot become pregnant while lactating and therefore possess a severe economic problem to producers. While pigs consume less feed per day, economics does not allow pigs to be a viable source of dairy products. "

                                        Also discusses the, um, milk ejection time and the difference in cow and pig teats.

                                        The answer originates from the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) in response to this letter

                                        The IPPA did respond ...
                                        "I hope I have answered your questions and I encourage you to think about developing a pig milking machine as you eat your bacon in the fixture."

                                        So to sum it up, it takes too long to milk a pig and they don't really have enough milk to make it worthwhile.

                                        But then again, for anyone deciding to come up with a pig milking machine, you'd have the marketing challenge of having the public accept the product.

                                        You would need to get over the gut "ewww" factor in many people. I suppose you could get nutritiounists beating the drum about the health benefits, if any. Or some fancy chef would have to make it desirable ... perhaps mini pig milkshakes with bacon cupcakes at the French Laundry ... or perhaps a take-off on the signature amuse ... pig creme fraiche in cones made of chicharron.

                                        In SF, we do currently have designer chicharron.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: rworange

                                          Can you visualize Sandra Lee coming up with one of her store-bought Barbie themes utilizing pigs milk.....

                                          I hope the FN bozocrats don't see this post.

                                        2. I just found out that a little village in Tuscany does produce pig's milk cheese.. It's called Porcorino- ( not peccorino) but I can't find anywhere to buy it. In my research, I also found out that pigs have 14 teats! If anyone has found it for sale, I'd love to know where to get it, other than going to Tuscany, which sounds mighty fine to me!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: sbbongi

                                            I find it difficult to believe this is not a hoax.

                                            First off, was the name. Porcorino is too cute and not really what an Italian would call this. They do a save and write " (Porcherino in the local dialect)."

                                            Second, they never name the village.

                                            Third after a year, there is no response to comments on where to by it.

                                            No photos of the cheese itself.

                                            Then there is this ...

                                            "produced in small quantities almost exclusively for local use for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, some food scholars have speculated that one of the objects on the table in Da Vinci’s famous fresco of The Last Supper in Milan,"

                                            Come on now ... and yet there are less than half a dozen mentions of it on the web ... all of them pointing to this article.

                                            BTW, wasn't Jesus and his group Jewish? Would Da Vinci with his attention to detail put pig cheese on the table of the last supper ... which for heaven's sake took place on Passover.

                                            Or there is this ...

                                            "After many years of casual, intermittent questioning in many a country trattoria (perhaps in this case, trotteria?), I stumbled quite by chance on the single village where it is still produced. "


                                            "a product of the swine to make one swoon. Imagine a milky tiramisu that melts and vibrates before exploding with overtones of porcini mushroom and a back taste hint of chestnuts (perhaps a product of the pig’s diet). Imagine damp woods, crisp autumn leaves crunching under foot, a dog barking in the distance. Imagine wild strawberries and rotting logs."

                                            Man, what an excellent parody of foodie-speak. It had me giggling ... porcini mushrooms ... nice touch.

                                            The milking process description is hilarious ... a dying art ... pig milking

                                            Supposedly from a herd of half-wild swine .. um .. quite the accomplishment since this has been produced as far back as when Leonardo was painting.

                                            I say if the blogger wasn't trying to pxerpetrate a hoax, they got blasted one night and this seemed funny to them.

                                          2. Speaking as a pastured pig farmer with about 40 sows about a decade of dealing with these issues I'll try and provide some real world background. No, I have not, yet, made pig cheese although my daughter wants to try. But on to the facts:

                                            The flavor of what an animal eats can come through in the milk - just wait until the next time the cows get into the onions to experience this (awful!). Pigs on pasture produce a sweet milk.

                                            Pigs do have udders, in fact ours have fourteen to sixteen teats all in one nice long udder that looks very cow like. The teat count is the real reason you don't find pigs milk in the store or pig cheese - you would have to have a machine that milks all of those teats and that is a lot more setup and cleanup. The advantage of cows is just four teats. We have sows that bag up just as much as cows. Take a gander at these lovely ladies each of which would make an entertainment star blush:




                                            Pigs will hold still for milking once trained. Sheep, goats and cows must also be trained and you would be well advised to restrain your cow's tail and hind feet. An advantage of sows is they don't kick you in the head. Pigs do have naturally long tails, just like cows so keep that in mind.

                                            Pigs do produce copious amounts of milk. Sometimes we milk our sows to get milk for piglets. I have milked Petra Pig and Anna Pig, some of our larger sows, and I was getting heavy squirts of milk that shot six feet (gotta have a little fun) and would scare a barn cat. The sows, off of just one teat, produced more milk than I had the patience to gather and she still had over a dozen more to go. There is a reason piglets grow so fast - their mother's milk is high in fat, high in protein and copious in volume.

                                            Castration is not necessary with most pigs as boar taint is very rare. If temperament is a problem then cull the boar - breed for nice animals since it is highly genetic.

                                            Head cheese is indeed a gelled deli meat. I had it as a child. There are a lot of meat bits on the head of the pig. No need to waste them. You boil the head, pick off the meat, boil the head some more, letting the broth thicken, add some celery and such if you like, salt and pepper, put back in the chunks of meat you picked off, let it cool and gel. Then slice up and put between two slices of bread for lunch. Alternatives to use are hocks and trotters (feet). For extra flavor put in a smoked trotter.


                                            -Walter Jeffries
                                            Sugar Mountain Farm
                                            Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
                                            in the mountains of Vermont
                                            Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: pubwvj

                                              Wow- thank you very much for your mythbusting post!

                                            2. Hey OP did you think about making this thread because of the Bourdain no reservations Vienna episode? (cause I had the same question while watching the show lol).