Raw milk cheese has long been touted as the pinnacle of international cheese-making but local regulations curbing its sale and manufacture have meant few Australians have sampled a wedge made on home soil.
Now that could all be set to change, with a South Australian cheese-maker receiving the official stamp of approval by the state's dairy authority to make raw goat's milk cheese.
The Kid, as it has been dubbed, is the work of Kris Lloyd from Woodside Cheese Wrights in the Adelaide Hills.
She has become the first Australian allowed to make and sell raw milk cheese in line with new food safety standards introduced in 2015 through Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
The soft curd cheese, which Lloyd sells at her cellar door in Woodside and plans to distribute across the country, is made to a brie recipe, then wrapped in vine leaves and matured over several weeks.
Making the cheese from raw, rather than pasteurised milk, gives the final product more character and a flavour profile that is "long, lingering and rich", Lloyd says.
"It has a beautiful fine texture and it's just lovely – it's velvety and beautiful," she says.
To reduce the risk of contamination, the new rules require the cheese be made to certain criteria such as pH, moisture content and microbial limits. Strict regulations around milk quality, farming practices and animal health must also be followed, and Lloyd has her cheese analysed to check for pathogens before it goes on sale.
"A lot of stars need to align in order to get to that final end point," she says.
Lloyd says the new rules put Australian cheese-makers on a more even playing field with their international counterparts, and make the most of Australia's environment.
"We've got clean waterways and wonderful clean air, particularly up in the Adelaide Hills where I get my milk from," she says. "We're perfectly positioned to be doing this because our raw material is just so incredibly high quality."
One of the champions of raw milk cheese over the past decade in Australia, Will Studd, says "raw" hard cheeses previously made and sold in Australia were made with cooked curds (for example, Bruny Island Cheese Company's C2 cheese). In comparison, Lloyd's latest release is made from uncooked soft curds.
And while raw goat's milk has never been as strictly regulated as raw cow's milk, Lloyd is the first to jump through the necessary legal hoops introduced in 2015 to make cheese with it. She plans to start work on a cheese made with raw buffalo milk, too.
"It's a great step forward," Studd says. "There is a growing consumer interest in genuine raw milk cheese and now the South Australian authorities have given the green light for Kris to produce and sell a fresh raw milk goat cheese I sincerely hope the precedent can be shared with all cheese-makers in Australia."