Ready for a new taste? Camel cheese is full of vitamins and minerals that you won’t find in cheese made from other milk. Camel milk has been used for centuries by Beduin tribes in Arabia as well as by nomadic peoples of Central Asia. Camel milk is richer in calcium and vitamins than cow milk. It’s also has a lower lactose content, so the cheese can be eaten by those with milk lactose intolerance.
There are two types of camel milk cheese on the market now. The low-fat content of camel milk makes it a healthier choice, but it also means that it can’t be used to make cheese in the same way as other types of milk. Generally, to make cheese, a veal rennet is added as a coagulant. Veal rennet is curdled milk taken from the stomach of a milking calf. This doesn’t work for camel cheese, though. The oldest method of cheese making was originally used by nomadic desert tribes a way of storing excess milk. Following this method, camel milk is curdled by a process of lactic fermentation. This process sours the milk, and the cheese that is produced tastes quite a bit different from cheese produced with rennet.
In recent years, new technology has made it possible to produce a type of cheese that will taste more familiar to European or American pallets. Instead of using veal rennet as a coagulant, some substitutes are used. Working in Mauritania, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations developed a process to create cheese from camel milk using vegetable rennet and calcium phosphate. This led to the development of Caravane, which is sold in Africa. It is also possible to produce camel cheese using camel rennet. Camelicious, a Dubai-based company, uses the same process to produce a brie-like cheese they call Camelbert. These cheeses taste slightly more salty than other cheeses, and the low fat content gives it a rich and creamy taste.
Cheeses produced using these methods are lower in cholesterol than cheese made from cow milk. It also offers many of the same nutritional benefits as camel milk. None of the studies that have shown the positive effect camel milk has on the autistic or on diabetics have been repeated using camel cheese, so it’s impossible to say how many of the important nutrients are lost in the cheesemaking process. But like camel milk itself, the cheese will be high in the good unsaturated fats and vitamin C, but low in lactose and unhealthy fats.