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Animal Cheese Taste Differences?

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Up until now, I've mainly tried/ate Cow's Milk Cheeses. I've often heard that there's atleast some difference(s) between Cow's Milk & other types of Cheeses, ya see? Right now in fact, I'm about to try a Cheese that is new to me that's apparently a Sheep's Milk Cheese. At the time of purchase, I didn't know that it was a Sheep's Milk Cheese or whatever type it could've been because I was more concerned with just trying something new & that Cheese is/was the Manchego Cheese. Have any of you here tried the Manchego Cheese & what are the main differences between these & other types of Milk Cheeses? By the way, this was actually the least expensive Cheese (other than the block of N.Y. Extra Sharp Cheddar) that I bought that day.

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  1. Animal milks vary in fat composition & amount of sugar from species to species. The composition of the milk fats, proteins & sugars affects the flavor of the final cheese product. From mildest to strongest I would rate cow - buffalo - sheep - goat.

    1. Different species' milks vary in flavor depending on richness but also on the grass, browse, and forb to which they have access.

      Vegetable-based cheese flavors are manipulated via fermentation processes and addition of flavorings and enzymed, but I do not consider non-mammalian cheese to fit the definition of cheese, ya know?

      1. Try yak cheese from Nepal. Tasty.

        1. I do know alot about the idea of the grass affecting the taste, yet I'd still imagine a different taste from different animals should they be feeding on the same grass, so...

          1. Honey Badger cheese is the funkiest of all.

            1. How cheese tastes to us is also a product of how it ripens/matures.

              As for your Manchego question, there are different varieties of it. The cow's cheese that the most popular manchegos in my area taste most like would be a cheddar or an aged jack, but to me it tastes more like a parmigiano reggiano (which is cow's cheese too) or a less salty pecorino romano (which is from sheep).

              1 Reply
              1. re: pinehurst

                Actually, ALL true Manchego Cheeses are supposed to be made from Whole Sheep's Milk or else they can't be called Manchego Cheese, ya see? Check out this note that says that it has to be made of/with Whole Sheep's Milk to qualify... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchego...

              2. Sheep's milk cheeses are my all time favorite.

                25 Replies
                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Actually, I tried Manchego last night & didn't care much for it at all. Good thing that it cost the least though, yet I'd still try it again. Manchego just wasn't as good as the other Cheeses I had to sample at the time in my opinion. To each his own though as usual.

                  1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                    When you say sample do you mean you are buying the smallest piece you can find OR are you asking to try a sample BEFORE you purchase? Because just about every CH on the Cheese board is recommending that you try before you buy and only buy what you will eat within a few days.

                    So, take that advice (as I have) in. Try before you buy. Buy only what you will use that week.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      I definitely eat what I get/got very soon. I'm not one to just get a little sample while leaving it alone for awhile to try much later. I like it fresh & I like it soon. I also don't usually buy in bulk, yet I do often buy several different types at once. It's not like I'm buying a whole circle or big blocks here anyways, ya know…lol?!?!

                      1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                        Okay I get that part but are you also able to taste a sample at the store before you buy so you know that you're going to like it before you commitment to spending money on a particular cheese?

                        1. re: HillJ

                          I usually start with (purchasing) smaller samples, yet I do often try them out in store.

                          1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                            Oh good. Tasting before you buy is the best way to shop. I do the same with the meat and salads offered at the deli or a deli dept. if I'm not familiar with the brand or style of preparation. No one ever says no.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              Great tip, I ask for a taste all the time. I started doing it after they started offering and no one ever says no. Last week I bought meat at the deli and they handed me a taste even though I didn't ask. I appreciated the snack.

                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                The guys behind the counter have turned me on to some really interesting deli by offering samples. Recently, a London broil marinated in red wine sliced like any roast beef and a Jamaican jerk turkey breast that was so spicy and so good. Cheese shops are eager to offer samples as the only true enticement to spending $30-40/lb !

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  An employee offered taste helped me discover my favorite deli roast beef. I was buying my usual roast beef at Wegmans and he offered a taste of 3 others I had no idea about and I am now hooked on their rare seasoned roast beef.

                                  I never hesitate in cheese shops, especially shops that know me well. It's more than likely 99.9/100 that I will taste until I find something to buy and that doesn't usually take very long :)

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    Absolutely, and it's fun.

                                2. re: fldhkybnva

                                  Sometimes certain stores actually insist on trying their stuff, so...

                                  1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                    Yup. Notably, The Cheeseboard in Berkeley will always cut a sample. Not only that, but the person waiting on you will usually sample it as well -- that's one way to be sure the staff is familiar with the cheese and on top of the condition of the cheeses in the case.

                      2. re: ShowUsYourRack

                        What were the others? I don't particularly like Manchego either but there are many other sheeps' milk cheeses.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          I'm still trying/looking for others all the time. The next time I get to the shop, I'll (as always) try & find something new, unique, different & exciting. It's a whole new year for us all to try new Cheeses now, ya know? A whole new year to taste/test different Cheeses out while not even having a clue about what the future will hold for any of our new Cheese experiences. At least for those interested in trying something new such as myself.

                          1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                            I understand that but I thought you had tried other sheeps milk cheeses along with the Manchego which is what I was wondering about.

                            1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                              Others are asking you, repeatedly, if you shop for cheese in stores that will give you a free taste of a cheese before you commit to buying it. This is what good cheese shops do. You have not yet answered this simple question.

                              I suspect you are not tasting before buying, since you have many questions about the varieties you are considering. If a full-service cheese shop is inconvenient for you, it would still be worth making the trip once or twice, and paying a little extra per pound, to be able to sample a bunch of cheeses before buying. Make notes.
                              Once you know what you do and don't like, you can buy prewrapped cuts at supermarkets, Costco, Trader Joe's, etc., if that is more within your budget and time constraints, ya know?

                              1. re: greygarious

                                Hear hear! It was worth a post rather than a "recommend."

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  Yes, I did say that I tried many, yet not all of them before purchasing them. I actually prefer the more "personal", comforting feeling of trying my Cheese(s) at home, rather than quickly "chewing my way around the store" if ya know what I mean. I usually don't enjoy it or "feel" it anywhere near as much in store as I do at home. Therefore, it's more than worth it taking smaller samples at home first, ya know? I hope you understand that now.

                                  1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                    No, don't really know what you mean. You can take your time in the store but to each his own. I don't want to buy a cheese I don't like so it's not worth it to me to buy it to try at home.

                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      And wasting $$ on cheese you realize you don't like when you can be spending those dollars on what you DO like...why do that?

                                      Heck, there are enough food stuffs you can't sample before buying to make actual samples worth trying.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        I've never wasted my cash on any of the Cheeses that I've bought, so there you go. Either I'll finish it as it is or I'll add it to another recipe, ya know? If it's bad, then it's really as simple as that to decide not to ever get it again unless someone else liked/requested it.

                                        1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                          If that works for you, that's great. All any of is doing here is offering the benefit of our experience (which I believe you were looking for). Happy cheese buying, SUYR!

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            Thanks for your support & "good eats" to you too!

                                    2. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                      the more personal, comforting feeling of trying my cheeses at home doesn't hold a candle to having a conversation with a cheesemonger who has a clue, who can answer my questions about what animal the cheese comes from, what region the cheese is from, something about the cheesemaker, and who quickly learns what I like and don't like in a cheese and can guide me to cheeses I'll probably adore.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        So true! Yesterday i was browsing for some new cheeses. I picked up a cheese and the cheesemonger immediately responded "I'm pretty sure you'll hate that cheese." I gave it a taste anyway and he was right. He then steered me to a cheese that I loved so much that I've been thinking about it since yesterday and returned to buy it today. It's nice to know your cheesemonger.

                          2. So to get back to the original question. I find the main difference between cow's milk and sheep's/ewe's milk cheeses is the texture.

                            Different kinds of milk have slightly different proteins, and they coagulate (form curds) slightly differently. I really love the texture of sheep's milk cheeses. I find them to be less gummy/rubbery than cow's milk cheeses (can you make mozzarella out of sheep's milk?) -- they just melt in your mouth.

                            I'll note that some of the best-known and most common cheeses are actually sheep's milk (Roquefort, Romano, traditional feta).

                            I don't love goat's milk cheeses. I think it's best suited to fresh chevre or feta and usually don't care much for the goat's milk version of traditional cheeses (goat gouda, goat brie, etc.).

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              There really is nothing like a good sheep's milk feta, is there? Dodonis or barrel are my weapons of choice.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                I agree, the texture is quite different. I've only had 1 or 2 that were even remotely crumbly. They are also a little higher in fat which adds some mouthfeel.