Ewe (Sheep) Milk

Overview followed by our selection of ewe (sheep) milk cheeses.

Sheep have been raised for milk for thousands of years and were milked before cows. The world’s commercial dairy sheep industry as well as artisanal is concentrated in Europe and the countries on or near the Mediterranean Sea. The dairy sheep industry is in its infancy in the United States and Canada.

Sheep milk is highly nutritious, richer in vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium than cow’s milk. It contains a higher proportion of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, which have recognized health benefits. For example, short-chain fatty acids have little effect on cholesterol levels in people. They make milk easier to digest.

zacharie cloutierZacharie Cloutier

Fromagerie Nouvelle France (Eastern Townships, QC)

Zacharie Cloutier is a raw sheep’s milk cheese ripened from 4 to 6 months. Its firm paste is semi-cooked and exhales sweet aromas of butter and caramel. Its orange coloured washed rind shows a zigzag design and the presence of small buds. This cheese has the same braided reed patterned rind as Manchego but lacks the wax coating of its Spanish ancestor.The name, Zacharie Cloutier, is a tribute to the Cloutier-Houde family ancestor. Thermalized sheep milk. Washed rind, firm pressed, semi-cooked paste. Aged 6 months.

BonnechereBonnechere

Back Forty Artisan Cheese (Lanark Highlands, ON)

The rugged Bonnechere River and the mysterious Bonnechere Caves are unique landmarks of the Ottawa Valley. A distinct feature of our Bonnechere is the rind that is toasted over an open flame before aging. This painstaking process, traditional for certain Basque cheeses, imparts a delicious caramel essence which permeates the body of the cheeses as it ages, and provides a delicious contrast to the tangy and fruity body of the cheese. Moderate aroma of smouldering wood and balanced sweetness and salt. Raw ewe milk. Semi-firm and cooked. Toasted rind. Aged 2 months.

madawaskaMadawaska

Back Forty Artisan Cheese (Lanark Highlands, ON)

The magnificent and rugged Madawaska River has long been an important part of life in the Ottawa Valley. And the cheese named after it is reminiscent of a Pierre Robert or a Brillat Saverin, but inside that rind, Madawaska holds a secret – you’ll see it in the picture – a lovely ivory tinge to the paste.  Yes, this is a sheep’s milk triple creme.  And it’s a delight.  It’s made from the raw milk of ewes who, when the snow’s off the ground, dine out on grasses, goldenrod and apple blossoms. The result is remarkable, with notes of sour cream – but without the tanginess of a Brillat – that quickly transition to the sweetness typical of sheep’s milk, as the paste dissolves on your tongue. This little fromagerie is in the Lanark Highlands, about an hour’s drive northwest of Ottawa, in the Ottawa Valley.  The Keith’s sell their cheese at the Carp (pronounced Cairp – if you’re from the valley) Farmers Market during the season, and at Ottawa’s Byward Market. Raw ewe milk. Bloomy Rind. Aged 45 days.

vlimeuxLe Vlimeux

Fromagerie le Mouton Blanc (Bas-Saint-Laurent, QC)

Le Vlimeux is an uncooked, pressed, semi-firm paste cheese made from raw sheep’s milk. It is ripened from 3 to 4 months. Its most particular characteristic comes from the old fashioned smoking procedure using a hand-made smokery in which only maple wood is used. This procedure gives a very unique and sought-after flavour. Its reddish colour is a sign of its strong character and this cheese reveals an array of aromas from buttery hazelnut to pink salmon.Raw sheep (ewe) milk, brushed rind, semi-firm non-cooked paste. Aged 3-4 months.

Tania-toscanaTania Toscana Sheep Milk Cheese

Mariposa Dairy (Lindsay, ON)

Lenberg Tania ToscanaTania Sheep Milk Cheese is an award winning aged Toscano style sheep’s milk cheese. It is made from 100% sheep milk and has a mild, sweet, yet nutty flavor. The sheep herd is Mariposa’s newest addition to the Lenberg Farms’ family of animals added in January of 2011. We started raising British milking sheep and are now making wonderful aged sheep milk cheese. Tania sheep milk cheese was a winner at the 2012 American Cheese Society. Tania Double Win:  First prize at the ACS 2014 and Best Canadian Sheep Cheese at the International Cheese Awards, the British Empire Cheese Show 2013 and the World Cheese Awards 2013. As the cheese ages it develops mild, sweet, and nutty flavor notes with hints of caramel flavors and turns a richer cognac color. Pasteurized sheep (ewe) milk. Natural and washed rind. Aged 6 months. 

tommekTomme du Kamouraska

Fromagerie Le Mouton Blanc (Bas-Saint-Laurent, QC)

Tomme du Kamouraska is a semi-soft, natural rind farmstead cheese made exclusively with sheep milk produced on the farm. Its unique taste is due to prolonged aging in subterranean cellars, a technique passed down from our ancestors. Cut into thin slices to savour the delicate flavour of this raw ewe’s milk cheese! Raw sheep milk. Natural rind, semi soft paste. Aged 4 months.

tomme-aux-poivresLa Tomme au Poivre

Fromagerie Le Mouton Blanc (Bas-Saint-Laurent, QC)

This farmstead cheese is made from raw sheep’s milk and ripened for at least 5 months allowing the Tellicherry pepper to infuse its semi-firm paste. The pepper remains subtle at first taste, then a few seconds later, expresses itself a little more firmly and makes way for a multitude of mixed aromas. Raw ewe milk. washed rind, semi-firm non-cooked paste. Aged 5-6 months.

ToscanoMonforte Toscano

Monforte Dairy (Stratford, ON).

This hard pecorino style cheese has a rustic, mottled rind that brings to mind an artifact just unearthed. Its paste is a pale straw colour, with warm tea tones near the rind. It exudes a bucolic air that engages the senses before you even take a bite, which is heavenly for the those of you who prefer a stronger experience. The texture is dense with some crumble, but remains moist. The flavours are soft and have an earthy depth, a creamy richness and a subtle, sweet complexity with a bit of meatiness at the rind. Organic pasteurized sheep’s milk. Pressed and cooked cheese with natural rind. Aged 6 months.

AllegrettoAllegretto

Fromagerie La Vache à Maillotte (La Sarre, Abitibi, QC)

The area’s Nordic climate results in pastures with a higher sugar content, and thus sweeter milk from the sheep, which is used to produce this award-winning, firm sheep’s milk cheese. Allegretto is a pressed sheep cheese (pressing is a process used to expel whey from the curd, which helps to bind it together and create a consistent texture in hard cheeses). While ripening, the exterior of the cheese is washed every two days with brine to develop its natural rind. Allegretto is neither a raw milk nor pasteurized cheese. It falls into a third category of milk treatment known as thermalization. When milk is pasteurized, all bacteria, good and bad, are killed. Thermalization heats the milk to about 170 degrees, which destroys most of the potentially bad bacteria but keeps some of the flavour from the beneficial microbes. Any remaining harmful bacteria die off during the aging process. In Canada, a cheese made from raw or thermalized milk cannot be sold younger than 60 days. Allegretto was the Grand champion in the  Caseus d’Argent cheese competition in 2004. Thermalized ewe milk, firm, pressed cheese with a surface-ripened, natural rind. Aged 4 months.

Crossroads

Crossroads Sheep Gouda 

Crossroad Farm and Gunn Hill Cheese (Norwich and Woodstock ON)

In 2012, farmers Brad Lunn and Dan McMillen had an excess of sheep milk on their hands and no one to buy it. “We were at a crossroads in our farming career,” says McMillen, which is when they decided to turn their milk into cheese and Crossroad Farms Sheep Gouda was born. An eight-month-old wheel speaks of good milk and good cheese making with creamy, fruity notes that develop in complexity, evolving from an approachable combination of buttery sweetness and slight tang into deeper smoky, nutty notes. With no cheese-making experience, McMillen approached Oxford County cheese producer Shep Ysselstein of Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese for help and the results have been a great success. Pasteurized sheep milk. Washed rind. Aged 6-8 months.

Secret de Maurice-1Le Secret de Maurice

Fromages de Maurice Dufour (Charlevoix, QC)

This soft, ripened cheese, which is made completely of sheep’s milk and makes for is the perfect appetizer. Why? Because when you cut open the little white round of cheese, carefully lift the top crust as if it were the lid on a jewellery box and spoon out enough of the almost-liquid interior to top a water biscuit, you get kind of giggly inside, especially with Champagne! Thermalized ewe milk. Firm bloomy rind whose interior is creamy and runny. Aged 20 days.