Most Expensive Cheese
Cheese has become so common that it’s hard to think that it’s actually a luxury good. Now, despite that, not all cheeses are equal — some are surprisingly expensive. This may result from the rarity of their ingredients or the details of how they’re made. To know more about them, here are ten of the most expensive cheese in the world.
Known in its native Serbia as magareci sir, Pule counts as the most expensive cheese in the whole world. On average, Pule costs an estimated $600 for every kilogram. This results from the rarity of one of its ingredients, the milk of a Balkan donkey, which makes up 60% of the cheese.
Unfortunately, today the Balkan donkey only has around 100 females, not all of which lactate at a given time. As it takes 25 liters of milk to make one kilogram of Pule, this directly contributes to the cheese’s sheer expense. This also means that the cheese only gets made in the Balkan donkeys’ home range, the Zasavica Nature Reserve in Serbia.
Cabrales earned the second spot after an auction in 2018. That year saw a 2.62 kg block of Cabrales cheese sold for $16,000. This also earned Cabrales a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, as the most expensive cheese ever sold at an auction. Cabrales takes its name from its place of origin, the Cabrales commune of Spain’s Asturias Principality. The commune’s dairy farmers make the cheese from goat and sheep’s milk, using traditional methods passed down from past generations.
Food regulations mandate that only cheese made by those methods and from that region of Spain can call itself Cabrales cheese. The cheese itself once got sold traditionally wrapped in maple leaves. However, EU regulations have forced the adoption of modern aluminum wrapping. However, locals continue to trade Cabrales cheese among themselves while wrapping it traditionally.
Moose cheese can actually get even more expensive than Pule, at $1,000 per kilogram. However, it usually gets sold by the pound instead, costing around $445. This, in turn, makes moose cheese the third-most-expensive cheese in the world. Its expense comes from the fact that only one group of cheesemakers actually makes moose cheese in the world.
Led by Christer and Ulla Johansson, moose cheese is made from moose milk in the Johansson household in Sweden. They typically produce around 300 kg of cheese per year. Three varieties of moose cheese get made: a soft feta-style, a harder rind-style, and finally ripened blue cheese. The cheese also gets served most commonly at the Älgens Hus restaurant, also in Sweden.
White Stilton Gold Cheese
A variant of the Stilton cheese traditionally made since 1911 in the village of Stilton in Britain, White Stilton Gold Cheese sells for about $420 per pound. It also sells by the slice, weighing at 100 grams per slice with a price tag of around $95.
The expense came from the use of gold liquor to make this batch of cheese, as part of a special edition to celebrate the brand. White Stilton Gold Cheese also takes longer to age than other kinds of cheese, to make sure it doesn’t develop edible mold and make it blue cheese.
Wyke Farms Cheddar
Wyke Farms makes up the biggest producer of cheese in Britain, using secret recipes originally belonging to Ivy Clothier in the 1950s. While it uses ordinary cow’s milk as its main ingredient, the brand name, as well as the secret methods used to make the cheese, have given it a high price. The cheese also has the advantage of lacking any gluten, making it available for people allergic to gluten.
That said, the price can vary depending on the age of the cheese the customer wants to buy. The oldest Wyke Farms Cheddar, at 15 months old, costs an average of $200 per pound. However, younger cheeses can sell for much less, as low as only $14 per pound.
Extra Old Bitto Cheese
The cheese takes its name from the Bitto River in Italy, which flows through the Valtelline Valley. Much like Cabrales cheese, food regulations strictly require that only cheese made according to traditional methods from Valtelline Valley can get marketed as Bitto cheese. The “extra old” prefix itself refers to a variant of Bitto cheese that gets aged for 18 years before getting placed on the market.
This also makes it the oldest cheese to ever get sold in the world. This further contributes to its average price of around $150 per pound. Culinary experts attribute the local cheesemakers’ ability to age the cheese for so long without it going bad to mixing goat’s milk with cow’s milk to make the cheese.
Rogue River Blue Cheese
This cheese takes its name from the Rogue River in Oregon, where it’s made once every year during autumn. The autumn rains actually cause the grass to grow late in the year in the Rogue River Valley. Cows grazing on this grass gives their milk a unique taste, which gets passed on to the cheese made from that milk.
The cheese then gets aged for up to 11 months, before getting hands wrapped in grape leaves soaked in pear spirits. This not only helps keep the cheese moist and fresh but adds further texture to its flavor. Selling at $75 per pound, Rogue River Blue Cheese makes for an affordable item on this list.
Caciocavallo means horse cheese, but it’s not made from horse milk. Instead, it refers to how the cheese would get transported by horse down the mountains where it’s made. Podolico, in turn, refers to a specific and rare Podolica breed of cattle that grows in Southern Italy. The cattle feed on a local diet of grass and berries in summer, which gives their milk a distinct aftertaste.
This then gets passed on to the cheese made from their milk. Together with the Podolica cattle’s small population, and the traditional methods used to make Caciocavallo Podolico, it results in a fairly high price of around $50 per pound.
Jersey Blue Cheese
The cheese takes its name from the Jersey breed of cattle, which originally came from the island of the same name in the English Channel. However, Jersey Blue Cheese actually gets made in Lichtensteig Municipality in Switzerland. First made by cheesemaker Willi Schmid, Jersey Blue Cheese comes from unprocessed milk.
The curds also get squeezed by hand to give the cheese its distinctive pattern of edible mold and final dome-like shape. Nutritionists have even noted that Jersey Blue Cheese has a high beta-carotene content compared to other cheeses. All these results in Jersey Blue Cheese having a price tag of around $45 per pound.
The name means “summer Beaufort”, referencing how it gets made in the particular season. Beaufort itself comes from the Beaufortain Valley, one of four places in France allowed marketing their cheese products as Beaufort Cheese. The cheesemaking process itself uses traditional tools and methods, with the milk used as the main ingredient even going unprocessed.
The cheese produced can age for as long as a year before it gets sold. This keeps it soft and even easy to melt. This, in turn, makes it especially suitable for making fondue. The cheese also has a place as an ingredient in various fish and white meat dishes. Beaufort d’Ete typically costs around $45 per pound, expensive, but not as expensive as other cheeses on this list.
Vintage Cave Aged Gruyere Cheese
With a price tag of $45 per pound, the cheese takes its name from where it’s made in the town of Gruyere in Switzerland. That, and from how the cheese gets aged for nine months in the Alpine caves nearby. The unique environment inside those caves causes small salt crystals to grow inside the cheese, which helps give it its distinctive nutty flavor.
Connoisseurs have also described the cheese’s flavor as gentle, making it very suitable for complex dishes as the cheese won’t overpower other ingredients. It also causes the cheese to develop small holes like the common stereotype of Swiss cheese.
Cacio Bufala references its main ingredient: buffalo milk. This makes the cheese somewhat harder than other cheeses but also gives it a very creamy texture. This makes it very suitable to use as an ingredient in various pasta and pizza dishes. Like other cheeses on this list, it also only gets made in a specific place, at Casa Madaio in the Campania region of Italy.
The cheese typically gets aged for up to a year in cellars or even caves. This contributes to the final product’s drum-like shape. Selling at $43 per pound, Cacio Bufala makes for expensive cheese, but one available to everyday consumers in supermarkets.
Gorau Glas Cheese
It takes its name from Caw Gorau Glas Farm on the island of Anglesey off the coast of Wales. Selling at $40 per pound, it is one of the most expensive cheeses available in Britain. The price results from the ingredients and manual labor used to make it, all of which follow traditional methods passed down to generations.
Naturally, these methods are kept secret, which further adds to the cheese’s value. Connoisseurs describe Gorau Glas Cheese as tasting slightly salty and having a crumbly texture. It’s usually used to make traditional Welsh dishes like cawl and rarebit, but people also sometimes eat the cheese by itself.
Sbrinz AOP Swiss Cheese
Switzerland’s answer to Italy’s Parmesan cheese, Sbrinz gets made in only 42 dairies all in Central Switzerland. Surprisingly, its name originally did not refer to any region in Switzerland, but this changed through a media campaign in the 1990s by the Swiss Cheese Union. Today, Sbrinz refers to the region in Central Switzerland which has all 42 dairies that make Sbrinz cheese.
It’s a very hard cheese, one that usually gets grated before seeing consumption as food. Its hardness results from its long aging process, at least 16 months, with some cheeses aging for up to 30 months which develops their distinctive fruity and nutty flavor. The price of the cheese varies depending on its age, but it usually averages at around $35 per pound, making Sbrinz the most affordable cheese on this list.
Jasper Hill Farm’s Winnimere Cheese
Among the more affordable items on this list of the world’s most expensive cheese, Jasper Hill Farm’s Winnimere Cheese sells for $30 per pound. The cheese gets aged for only about 60 days, which keeps it soft and gives it a pungent smell. In that time, it gets wrapped in strips of spruce taken from the forests surrounding Jasper Hill Farm. This helps give the cheese its distinctive flavor.
Once the aging process finishes, the cheese gets washed in brine, which evens out its rind or outer layer. While suitable for cooking, the cheese can also be served as part of cheese platters with glasses of wine.