This cheddar is made with unpasteurized milk following the traditional way of Témiscamingue, a production that ceased in 1972 but has since been brought back on an artisanal scale in Quèbec. The production region was colonized in the mid-1800s by farmers from the south of the province of Québec, primarily from the Greater Montreal and surrounding areas. At the time of colonization, each village had its cheese factory, which produced basic cheeses such as cheese curds and cheddar. The revival of this traditional cheese production has helped revive a culinary tradition that would otherwise be forgotten by the community.
Témiscamingue raw milk cheddar is an aged cheddar of medium intensity with fruity aromas and a creamy texture in the mouth. It also contains aromas of nuts or almonds according to some. The cheese stands out from other Canadian cheddar production because it is one of the few to still use raw milk to its preparation. This results in a sensory profile much more complex than its industrial rivals, and a cheese much stronger in taste for the same period of ripening.
Cheddar cheese has a centuries-long history in Québec, with the production technique brought to the area by British immigrants. Production of cheddar cheese to send to troops during World War II was even considered a major war effort by every parish and village in the territory of Québec. Today, dairy cattle are still raised locally in extensive systems, thanks to the widespread availability of agricultural land. However, an increase in corn cultivation in the region for ethanol production threatens the availability of land for fodder production. This endangers the accessibility of quality fodder for cows that are fed on pasture in summer and dry hay in winter.
Changes in trade agreements with the European Union also threaten the survival of Québec’s artisanal cheese in general, as this agreement will flood the local market with European industrial cheeses much cheaper than the cost of current cheddar production. In addition, the other ultimate threat is the lack of succession in the cheese community in Témiscamingue region, which ultimately threatens the production of this cheddar, the very last raw milk cheddar from Québec.