|a 5-inch round fresh from the farmer's market|
That lack of uniformity is the real difference between artisan cheeses and mass-produced cheeses. While the mass producers strive for perfect consistency, artisan cheeses are quirkier. They are made by hand, following traditional techniques, and all sorts of factors can affect the final outcome: whether the cheese is made with raw or pasteurized milk, the weather, what the cows ate, the length of ripening, whether the cheese is washed in brine, cider, or something else, as well as mysterious factors.
Years ago, I read a book called The Cheese Book by Vivienne Marquis and Patricia Haskell. It recounted the story of the Borden's Liederkranz cheese factory, which moved to Ohio from NY. The owners were scrupulous about moving everything: the equipment, the method, the original culture and recipe. But the new cheese was unsatisfactory. Finally, some genius decided to smear some of the original Liederkranz cheese on the new factory walls. (I love picturing this, and I wonder how that idea was originally received by management and by the people working there.) Voila! Future batches were successful, because now the very air was correct, filled with the perfect beneficial bacteria.
If the Nobscot folks ever move their cheese works, I will send them this story. I don't want my Wheyside influenced by foreign microbes.