Cheese is one of those commodities that you either love or hate. As a cheese lover myself, I feel bad for people who cannot enjoy it because of health issues or personal choice. Any type of cheese has something different to offer, and there are literally hundreds of varieties to choose from. Many people in the world love a good piece of cheese, and each region has their own way of producing it.
Cheese is a dairy product that is both universal and versatile. There are so many ways to enjoy it: in accompaniment to a great bottle of wine, alongside grapes, with crackers or bread as a snack, in a sandwich, and those are just a few examples. You can cook with it or eat it as it comes, you decide.
We will look at some varieties of cheese that are very in demand right now throughout the world, therefore very expensive. Cheese can even be considered a delicacy, along with other rare products such as truffles and caviar.
A Little Bit of History
We are not completely sure the first time that cheese was actually produced. But as animals were domesticated and farmers began to use them for their own consumption, the first known record dates back in Europe before the Roman era. It is not known for sure whether it originated in Europe, Northern Africa or the Middle East.
But apparently it was made by accident, after milk was left forgotten and it began to curdle. One thing that is known for sure is that cheese is produced in similar ways, no matter where it comes from.
Most cheeses are made from cow’s milk, but there are more and more producers that use different sources of making it. One thing is for sure, it comes from some sort of milk, either from animal sources or beans such as soybeans. In the modern world we’re living in, and due to increased food intolerances some people are getting very creative at making cheese.
But for the purpose of this article, we are talking about cheeses that come from milk from animal sources.
How is cheese made?
As previously mentioned, cheese is made by making milk sit and curdle for a specified period of time, and it becomes a thickish fermented substance. Salt is added in order to preserve it, also to add some taste. Some farmers use interesting methods of production, which gives them their particular edge.
We have come a long way from centuries ago when the cheeses were very similar no matter where they originated from. The many varieties and textures that are widely available today are particular to each region where they are produced, and the true connoisseurs are able to pinpoint their origin just by tasting them.
Cheese has become a very popular product that many people across the world consume on a daily basis. Consumption of cheese has increased tremendously over the last decade worldwide, and many people go for the artisanal varieties more than in the past.
Finally, we’ve compiled a list with the most expensive cheeses in the world. Have you tried any of them?
16. Lord of the Hundreds
We start off this list with the least expensive cheese according to the standards of the other cheeses we will look at shortly, although still pretty popular and tasty. Produced in England at the Traditional Cheese Dairy by Cliff and Julie Dyball, the “Lord of the Hundreds” cheese is made from sheep milk.
Traditionally made in the region of East Sussex, this artisanal cheese has a dry and nutty flavor, and it is a bit sharp. Categorized as semi-hard, with time it develops a caramel flavor that is a great balance of sweet and savory.
15. Parmigiano Reggiano
Slightly more expensive and definitely one of my favorites, Parmigiano Reggiano comes from cow milk. Originally from the regions of Parma, Mantua, Reggio Emilia, and the metropolitan city of Bologna in northern Italy, this cheese is exclusively Italian made. The process has to abide by strict regulations and standards set by the European Union.
The cows are fed a certain type of food, that is why the taste is particular to the brand. The strong flavors of this cheese comes from the aging process, which ranges anywhere from 12 to 36 months.
A Vermont product, Winnimere is made at Jasper Hill Farm. Because it is made only in winter, it is part of the reason it became so valuable. Another reason is its soft creamy texture and amazing taste that comes from being aged for two months. This artisanal cheese has a sweet bite and a woodsy aroma that makes it a favorite with many.
If you happen to be in the area and you get a chance to get your hands on a piece you should consider yourself lucky. It is worth a try, and one of the more “reasonable” offerings on this list.
13. Gorau Glas
One of the most expensive cheeses produced in the UK, Gorau Glas is made in Dwyran, Anglesey. This variety of blue cheese was developed by dairy farmer Margaret Davies in 2002.
She started making it at her family’s farm, and the method of production she came up with is very specific and only the best ingredients are used. What started as a local experiment expanded pretty quickly on the international market due to its pleasing taste and soft texture.
12. Rogue River Blue
Another creamy blue cheese, this one is made in South Oregon and David Gremmels from Rogue Creamery came up with this interesting recipe. Rogue River Blue is yet another cheese variety that is seasonally made, this time only in the fall months. The reason is that the cow’s milk that is used for its production is richer during these months.
The texture is firm and the fruity and nutty flavors that come from pear spirits are simply delectable. It melts in your mouth and the smell is pleasant enough for a blue cheese.
11. Epoisses de Bourgogne
This is one of the more pungent varieties of cheeses on Earth, but trust us, it tastes a lot better than it smells! Considered a “complicated” cheese, Epoisses de Bourgogne has a fine texture combined with distinctive sweet, salty yet creamy layers of flavor that will please your palate. It is a very interesting variety that is originally from the region of Bourgogne.
More specifically, some monks at the Abbaye de Citeaux are first responsible for its production. The rind is washed in a wine residue called Marc, which gives it an extra layer of goodness.
10. Cacio Bufala
Made from pasteurized water buffalo milk, this artisanal variety from Italy is a delicate, semi-hard white cheese. Cacio Bufala uses natural rennet and salt, and the curd is drained during maturation. The result is a compact cheese with an aromatic scent and a slightly sweet flavor. Unlike other varieties, this cheese is available year long.
Many tend to confuse it with Provolone or Buffalo Mozzarella, but this one is made in Campania, by Casa Madaio dairy farm. It is aged for eight to twelve months in natural caves, and it is salted in brine for at least two months. It can be enjoyed in a variety of ways with either white wine or lager, and goes perfectly with hearty breads.
9. Beaufort D’Ete
A product of the Savoie region of France, it comes from a mountain breed of cow named Trentaise or Taurine. Similar varieties have been around since the 17th century in this Alpine region, and were very popular during the French Revolution.
For many years when the town got its current name of Beauford, production of cheese thrived. But post World War ll, when the economy in Europe was at its lowest, the flavorful Beaufort D’Ete cheese almost disappeared. In 1961 a dairy cooperative took over and made cheese production possible again, and today it is tenfold what it was post-war.
The summer variety of Beauford is slightly more expensive than their standard Beauford, which is produced from November to May. The reason is that the pasture cows graze from June through November give the cheese that smoother and creamier texture.
8. Jersey Blue
An externally rinded blue variety, Jersey Blue has been made by a Swiss cheesemaker since 2006. A new take on a traditional blue variety, Jersey Blue has become a favorite and renowned worldwide. It is produced from raw milk from Jersey cows, hence the name. Shaped into five inch domes, they weigh in at about four pounds.
The process is somewhat different from the making of other brands. They hand-ladle the curds into the mold in order to create several “pockets”. Then two types of blue mold are introduced and allowed to age for roughly ten weeks. This makes the blue mold to spread throughout the paste and ends up coating the rind too.
It has a musty smell, but a soft and buttery texture. Once it ages a bit, the flavor becomes sharper and the veins turn green.
7. Caciocavallo Podolico
Also known as Horse Cheese, this artisanal cheese from Italy is actually made from cow’s milk. It comes from a rare breed of cows named Podolica that only lactate in May and June and that are raised in Italy, more specifically in the Bacilicata, Calabria, Campagna and Puglia regions. It is pear shaped, and it is usually tied in pairs and strung over poles for the curing process to take effect.
Left to age for about three months, after two or three years it takes on a deeper color and a firmer texture. It can be consumed as soon as it is ready, but it is customary to grate it over pasta once the two to three years pass in order to get the full flavor. It contains high levels of Omega 3, which is not only healthy, but delicious as well.
6. Old Ford
Manufactured by Neal’s Yard Dairy in England, this super rare cheese comes from pasteurized goat’s milk. Firm yet delicate in texture, this cheese is first aged, then hand pressed to give it its shape. An exquisite taste, it feels buttery, salty and very savoury on the palate, that is why it made the list of one of the most expensive cheeses.
Depending on when it is produced, the aging process varies. In summer the cheese matures within three months, but in winter it takes a bit longer, usually eight months in order to get that denser texture and a more intense flavor.
5. Bitto Storico / Extra Old Bitto
Another Italian cheese, this one comes from the Valtellina Valley in Italy. This cheese is so versatile and its flavor varies with the changing of seasons. Ten to twenty percent of the cheese comes from Orobica goat’s milk from the Bergamo Alps, and the rest from cow’s milk. If you have the travel bug and want to visit the town of Gerola Alta, you will get to experiment with different vintages of the Bitto Storico.
This offering can be aged for up to ten years but for a minimum of 70 days. The cheesemakers still use copper cauldrons that are set on wood fire. The cows are not given any supplements, therefore the cheese is completely additive-free. The brand has specific production dates and is strong on preserving their historical traditions.
4. Wyke Farm Cheddar
One of the oldest brands on this list, this cheddar has been manufactured on a family owned farm in Somerset, UK, since the 1860s. When you think of cheddar cheese, you automatically think of the grocery store orange variety you find for a very reasonable price. Although by the looks of it is just like the cheaper version, it is not.
This one is infused with French truffle and gold leaf and it has a tangier taste than the more mainstream cheddar. Aged for a minimum of one year, it is said that it is “the Original” cheddar, and it has won many awards for the distinctive taste and superior quality.
3. White Stilton Gold
This blue cheese that actually looks white is protected under European law and it is limited to production in three UK counties. Only the Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire regions have the rights to use their local pasteurized cow’s milk in order to produce this very expensive version of Stilton cheese.
The shining flecks of edible gold leaf give this different version of blue cheese its distinctive taste and its unique aroma. It is unpressed and forms its own crust, and it comes in a cylindrical shape that is customary for this region. If money is no object, try it.
2. Moose Cheese
This cheese, as the name suggests, is made from moose milk. From Bjurholm in Sweden comes this rare and sought after cheese that is produced at the Mouse House. The three sibling moose lactate only from May through September, and only produce about five liters of milk daily, which makes it very rare.
The story behind the process of milking these three moose is fascinating. We will only tell you that they have to be handled very tenderly, if not their milk supply will dry up. With only about 650 pounds of annual supply, no wonder it is so expensive.
The taste is unique with the high protein and fat content that comes from the moose milk, but the texture is said to be similar to that of Camembert. If you happen to visit the area, visiting the Johansson farm might be worth your while.
And now, we introduce you to Pule, the most expensive cheese on the market today. Produced in Serbia, this cheese comes from a breed of rare Balkan donkeys that live on a nature preserve in Zasavica. Using the same recipe that has been used since the 1700s, the donkeys have to be milked three times a day, and only by hand.
Since they only yield a little bit of milk at the time, it is considered precious. Donkey milk also contains about 60- times the amount of vitamin C of cow’s milk, but only one percent of the fat. Known for its health benefits, Pule has a soft crumbly texture.
The taste is slightly nutty and sweet. If you want to have an idea, you can compare it to Gruyere, but it has a more complex and richer flavor. If you have the chance to try it, let us know what you think.
We hope you enjoyed this virtual tour into the world of cheese. I’m sure most of you have never heard about some of these cheeses but hopefully one day we’ll all get to enjoy them.
- A Little Bit of History
- Cheese Sources
- How is cheese made?
- 16. Lord of the Hundreds
- 15. Parmigiano Reggiano
- 14. Winnimere
- 13. Gorau Glas
- 12. Rogue River Blue
- 11. Epoisses de Bourgogne
- 10. Cacio Bufala
- 9. Beaufort D’Ete
- 8. Jersey Blue
- 7. Caciocavallo Podolico
- 6. Old Ford
- 5. Bitto Storico / Extra Old Bitto
- 4. Wyke Farm Cheddar
- 3. White Stilton Gold
- 2. Moose Cheese
- 1. Pule