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Your Cheese Questions Answered from Cheese Grocery Manager, Noel Zimmer

Posted on: August 10th, 2015

noel zimmer at tony's market

Grocery Manager Noel Zimmer prepares fresh mozzarella at Tony’s Market.

Cheese is no simple subject. According to the International Dairy Association, there are 2,000 varieties of cheese. There are artisan cheeses, farmstead cheeses, cow milk cheeses, sheep milk cheeses, aged cheeses, raw cheeses…the diversity of cheeses goes on and on.

Fortunately for us, we have several cheese experts on staff at Tony’s, including Noel Zimmer. Noel is a grocery manager at our Broadway market who spends much of his time giving small pieces of cheese the love and attention they need. More specifically, he rotates and flips the pieces to allow the cheeses to breathe and ripen properly. Noel studied bioagricultural sciences at Colorado State University and has worked in charcuterie and cheese for several years.

Today, Noel is answering some of the most commonly asked cheese questions that he hears from customers at Tony’s.

Are raw cheeses worth it?

A lot of people are apprehensive about raw milk cheeses, but people around the world eat raw milk cheese safely. Never fear. The risk with raw cheese is mostly seen with large-scale cheese production. In this case, you have milk from various farms for one product, which is hard to control. The raw cheeses we recommend come from farmstead producers who have the milking area right next to the creamery. These producers oversee all the steps.

Why are organic cheeses so expensive?

bucky jaquess at tony's market on broadway

Director of Food Production at Tony’s on Broadway, Bucky Jaquess, shares samples of Monte Enebro, a delicious goat’s milk cheese.

There aren’t very many organic cheeses available, because most producers find it cost prohibitive. The cost of feed is double or more for an organic cow! So, between supply/demand and production costs, organic cheese is just plain expensive.

But that doesn’t mean conventional cheese producers don’t treat their livestock well. Many don’t use hormones or antibiotics. I’ve even known a farmer who hired a masseuse for their herd!

How does Tony’s Market pick its cheeses?

For starters, we like to have an even selection of domestics, imported, hard, soft, cooking cheese, blue cheeses, and so on. Next, it needs to taste good and be of the highest quality (of course) . Then, we also like to know the back story of a cheese. I think a lot of cheese makers have a strong sense of stewardship. Built into a piece of cheese can be a whole story. For instance, one producer comes to mind who has a methane capturing operation. They capture methane from cow manure to run turbines and have a carbon neutral operation as a result.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more expertly-answered FAQs here on Tony’s blog.

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