Glad somebody here is looking to make some cheese-
My experience is that all hard cheeses, almost by definition, entail pasturization. It is thermophillic (heat loving) bacteria that make the cheese hard. All the raw cheeses I am familiar with, including cheddar, are mesophilic based. So I guess it depends on how you define 'hard cheese'.
Hard cheeses were traditionally made to best preserve the harvest for later use. In that context, skim milk is less prone to spoilage when made into cheese. Plus, you could make butter too. Just about all cheeses can be made with whole milk, but most thermophilic cheeses are going to be at least part skim. Then again, skim milk from a Jersey cow looks a lot like whole milk from a Holstein, so take that into consideration. Also, if you make cheese from whole Jersey milk, there is so much betterfat that some of it will actually get washed out in the whey.
The composition of the milk changes at least as much based on the stage of the cow's lactation as the season of the year. So if your milk is from a cow that calved in the springtime, as was traditional, then you are correct about the changing composition of the milk. But if the cow calved in a year round dairy context, it is not as straighforward.
Lots of variables. What is the context of the animal you are getting your milk from? What is your objective for cheese type? More info and I can give even more info... Love talking milk!
Ah yes I noticed this earlier today but your post put two and two together.
I originally was thinking of cheddar and then started reading about parmesan. I noticed that the two were quite different in composition and you have explained the difference very well so thanks
I buy the milk from a farmer who used to own a dairy herd but now only has a few cows. I don't know how he keeps them but I suspect he sticks with what he knows as I haven't yet experienced a dry spell from him.
The cows eat grass in the summer and hay in the winter, and right now, the cream is incredibly yellow. I'll be making cultured butter this weekend... Yum!
I noticed the cheddar recipes called for higher fat (even cream additions) while the parmesan tend to call for skim milk. Personally, I prefer to eat parmesan and waiting a year is not a big deal for me.
It does seem like a more complex process. Would that be a fair assessment?
I wouldnt say parmesean is any more difficult than cheddar. Biggest drawback is the waiting period. Waxing is simple. One frustrating thing about parmesean or other long cured cheeses is that it takes so long to know how it turned out, and by then I always forget what exactly I did, so learning is a bit impaired. I did nail it with some top notch beginners luck the first time I made parmesean, though I had no idea exactly why. So dont be afraid, but do take good notes so you can replicate if successful.