There is an Italian cheese that’s good because it’s aged in a cave with constant humidity and temperature. Why can’t these conditions be replicated in another part of the world using technology and science?



There is an Italian cheese that’s good because it’s aged in a cave with constant humidity and temperature. Why can’t these conditions be replicated in another part of the world using technology and science?

In: Earth Science

Not a cheeseologist, but there are more things that affect a cheeses flavor than just humidity and temperature. Different bacteria and fungi can have an effect on how the cheese is cured. That cave may have a special microbiome that gives it a unique flavor. Also, caves tend to be consistent in their temperature and humidity without external interference, so it’s a reliable way to keep it where it needs to be without worrying about a power failure or somebody messing with the thermostat

Much like champagne and balsamic vinegar, certain guidelines and standards exist for products in certain regions.

Parmesan cheese in the US and other parts of the world is made the same way as the cheese in Italy. However, the diet of the cows that produce the milk for parmesan may be different in various parts of the world, giving each version of parmesan cheeses a slightly different flavor.

Well in short it could be, but two factors are in play

1. Cost: it can be expensive recreating perfect conditions, much more expensive than just sticking it in a cave for free

2. Marketing: if i gave you a bottle of champagne not made in France even if it tasted the same it will never hold the same value. Partially because of laws that limit marketing and perception

They can.

But the market for this sort of thing is fairly niche and the fact the cheese aged in some special cave for a long time is part of the appeal. It creates an inherent exclusivity. The producers of these types of products have often gone to a lot of effort to market the uniqueness of their product. Whether the demand generated is rational or not is a separate debate.

On the flip side: nobody wants to pay through the nose for mass produced lab aged cheese churned out by some mega corporation, even if it’s identical by the time you’re chewing on it.

They can, easily. There are two reasons they don’t:

1) European nations have a long history of protecting the names of certain products from certain regions. For example, the only sparkling wine that can be called “Champagne” in the EU is sparkling wine made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France.

Grapes grown in the Napa Valley in California are identical to grapes grown in France and it has been conclusively proven that no one can tell the difference between sparkling wine from Champagne, France and the Napa Valley in California. But wines made from grapes grown in Napa Valley cannot be called Champagne in the EU.

The EU has been fairly successful in tying these labeling restrictions to broader trade deals with the block and, as a result, you can’t use a lot of EU specific food terms outside of the EU either.

2) You can get around that – to take sparkling wine as an example – by just calling the product something else that nonetheless conveys what it is. However, other than Champagne a lot of these products with EU enforced geographic labelling are very niche products with essentially no demand outside of a very specific geographic region or demographic.

So if you’re talking about Formaggio di Fossa, the answer is that its such a niche product that there is 0 demand for it outside of a very specific, very wealthy niche. Those people are willing to pay a lot for it – that’s why its become a kind of upper class trend item – and want to buy the “genuine” cheese, not a “knock off.” As a result, there’s basically 0 demand for the cheese as a generic product and so no one is willing to invest the money that would be necessary to set up a production line to duplicate it.

They can, and they are. For example there are cheddar cheeses matured in the caves near Cheddar in Somerset, but most cheeses and even cheddars are aged in temperature and humidity controlled fridges. They’re even called “caves”.

A natural cave is simply a natural humidity and temperature stable environment. Doing the same thing in a built room is no different, and exactly how any hard cheese it’s made.