CHEESE NOTES

Christine Hyatt, aka the CheeseChick, is a master of capturing cheese on camera, and she’s now offering a 6-week online workshop to learn the fundamentals of making your wheels look good, whether you’re a cheesemaker, retailer, or food blogger. Via CheesePhotography101.com

Cheese Photography 101 for Makers, Mongers & Bloggers

Build Confidence Behind the Lens and Learn Strategies for Creating and Sharing Captivating Images that Attract More Customers & Build Sales.

Explore Effective, Efficient Strategies & Workflows to take more beautiful photos of cheese in this 6 week online workshop series.

A combination of self-paced video tutorials and lecture on a variety of topics along with live demonstrations, “Office Hours” for Q&A and printable checklists and worksheets, this course will super-charge your creativity, giving you confidence and tools you need to compose and capture the images you imagine.

Course Tuition: $249

Classes Begin September 8th!

REGISTER

LifeAndThyme.com has a wonderful blog post about Italian affineur Luigi Guffanti that’s well worth a read:

Milk, Salt & Rennett

It’s not only the requirement of total dedication to the animals, the quality and the techniques required for daily cheese making but the lack of guarantee that makes this profession so trying. With no promises that they will ever make money selling their cheeses there is little incentive for people to continue producing such incredible creations. In Italy, they have a saturated cheese market. This means that there is little incentive to pay more for a certain cheese, because there is so much cheese everywhere. It’s not all high quality but a lot of times the price beats the palate.

Small producers rarely produce enough volume to gain access to the international markets that will pay them livable wages. This is where affineurs such as Luigi Guffanti come in. Guffanti acts as a middleman and will buy the entire production for a season and age it until they believe it is ready to be released. This ensures the rancher can focus solely on the making of the cheeses, the health of his cattle, and making sure that they are able to buy the new tools and supplies that they might need the next year, without waiting to see if their cheese will sell or not.

Check out the full post.

(Photos ©2014 LifeAndThyme.com)

Newsweek: French Cheesemakers Crippled by EU Health Measures

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Most of the recent attention has been focused on challenges facing American cheesemakers due to regulatory pressures, but all is not well in what is arguably the world capital of artisan cheese: France. Newsweek reports on the losses that France’s cheese heritage is currently experiencing (this story touches on many of the same themes and issues as the documentary The War of the Stinky Cheese):  

French Cheesemakers Crippled by EU Health Measures

President Charles de Gaulle famously remarked on the impossibility of governing a country that produced so many cheeses. But that was in 1962. Today it might be just as hard to govern the country, but it has nothing to do with cheese – because 90% of the producers have either gone to the wall or are in the hands of the dairy giants. This is thanks to a mixture of draconian health measures in Brussels, designed to come down hard on raw milk products, and hostile buyouts by those who want to corner the market.

Unpasteurised milk, which gives a unique earth-and-fruit flavour, has been gradually marginalised on false public health pretexts after intense lobbying by the food processing industry, to the detriment of the consumer but the incalculable advantage of those producing cheese made with pasteurised milk. The latter will last up to a month on the supermarket shelf, while many made with raw milk – such as fresh goat’s cheese – are unlikely to be edible after more than 10 days.

France produces more than 1,000 different types of cheese and is the second biggest consumer in Europe, after Greece. But products made with lait cru, or unpasteurised milk, now make up only 10% of the market, compared with 100% 70 years ago. The cheese war is particularly savage in Camembert, an area where there are now only five authentic local producers left. It has fallen victim to a culture that favours a production line that can churn out 250,000 Camembert cheeses a day.

“The big industrial producers will not tolerate the existence of other modes of production. They are determined to impose a bland homogeneity upon the consumer – cheese shaped objects with a mediocre taste and of poor quality because the pasteurisation process kills the product,” says Véronique Richez-Lerouge, founder of France’s Unpasteurised Cheese Association, which lobbies to protect traditional raw-milk varieties.

“The multinationals don’t care a fig and with the complete cooperation of the powers-that-be have swept aside 2,000 years of know-how, and now the great cheeses of France are on the road to extinction,” says Richez-Lerouge, who recently published France: Your Cheese is Going Down the Drain. “The small guys just get crushed underfoot by companies like Lactalis with its €15bn turnover and Bongrain (€4.4bn). French cultural heritage and freedom of choice for the consumer are at stake here.”

Read more

High-res Love this poster from the Cellars at Jasper Hill, exploring the anatomy of the dairy cow and its role in cheesemaking. Also available as a t-shirt (I scored one at the Vermont Cheesemaker’s Festival):

The Anatomy of a Cow
Are you as fascinated as we are by the beautiful alchemy of making milk? Do you daydream about fermentation in the rumen, protein synthesis and the biochemical cascade to flavor? You’re not alone. 
We’re happy to unveil another poster by talented artist Natalya Zahn, skillfully illustrating the anatomy of a dairy cow and highlighting those processes that contribute to milk production. You might recognize the cow in question as Jenny, one of our most senior and beloved animals in the herd.
The poster is available for purchase from our website, as well as T-shirts based on the same design in both men’s/unisex (crew-neck) and women’s sizes (scoop-neck). 

Poster available at the Cellars site. 

Love this poster from the Cellars at Jasper Hill, exploring the anatomy of the dairy cow and its role in cheesemaking. Also available as a t-shirt (I scored one at the Vermont Cheesemaker’s Festival):

The Anatomy of a Cow

Are you as fascinated as we are by the beautiful alchemy of making milk? Do you daydream about fermentation in the rumen, protein synthesis and the biochemical cascade to flavor? You’re not alone. 

We’re happy to unveil another poster by talented artist Natalya Zahn, skillfully illustrating the anatomy of a dairy cow and highlighting those processes that contribute to milk production. You might recognize the cow in question as Jenny, one of our most senior and beloved animals in the herd.

The poster is available for purchase from our website, as well as T-shirts based on the same design in both men’s/unisex (crew-neck) and women’s sizes (scoop-neck). 

Poster available at the Cellars site

High-res Connecticut Food and Farm gets a sneak preview of Sea Change, the Mystic Cheese Co.’s newest cheese (see my reviews of their Melville and Melinda Mae): 

SEA CHANGE ~ An exclusive look at the Mystic Cheese Company’s newest release!
While most families are on vacation at the beautiful beaches and countryside camps across Connecticut, the work of the cheese maker is a labor of love never done. The Mystic Cheese Company has been hard at work in their Cheese Pod crafting a new lactic invention called Sea Change that will have a soft launch this weekend at the Coventry and Chester Farmer’s Markets.Connecticut Food and Farm was able to obtain an exclusive first bite of Sea Change and we were considerably impressed with its feathery texture, doughy flavor, and lingering yogurt-like tang.
According to Cheese Technologist and Founder of Mystic Cheese, Brian Civitello, Sea Change, a small 4 oz. yeast-ripened cow’s milk cheese, has stylistic influence stemming from the foot hills of the alps in north western Italy, an area Brian became well acquainted with on his cheese making apprentice journeys.
He explained that, typically, this cheese style is made with a blend of cow’s and goat’s milk harvested from 2-3 different milkings.  But for Sea Change, Brian is exclusively using warm, fresh, cow’s milk from Graywall Farm… from a single milking, never more than 30 minutes out of the cow. It gives the cheese a sparkling dairy canvas to build on. From that foundation, a long and slow fermentation process and gentle handling of the curd are key to building such a delicate cheese. After the production day, which takes about 12 hours, the cheese is brined for 20 minutes, dried for several hours, and then ripened over the course of 9 days at 57 F to develop a natural, protective, edible, rind of yeast which emanates a distinctive, sweet aroma of wildflowers and plums.

Read the full post.

Connecticut Food and Farm gets a sneak preview of Sea Change, the Mystic Cheese Co.’s newest cheese (see my reviews of their Melville and Melinda Mae): 

SEA CHANGE ~ An exclusive look at the Mystic Cheese Company’s newest release!

While most families are on vacation at the beautiful beaches and countryside camps across Connecticut, the work of the cheese maker is a labor of love never done. The Mystic Cheese Company has been hard at work in their Cheese Pod crafting a new lactic invention called Sea Change that will have a soft launch this weekend at the Coventry and Chester Farmer’s Markets.Connecticut Food and Farm was able to obtain an exclusive first bite of Sea Change and we were considerably impressed with its feathery texture, doughy flavor, and lingering yogurt-like tang.

According to Cheese Technologist and Founder of Mystic Cheese, Brian Civitello, Sea Change, a small 4 oz. yeast-ripened cow’s milk cheese, has stylistic influence stemming from the foot hills of the alps in north western Italy, an area Brian became well acquainted with on his cheese making apprentice journeys.

He explained that, typically, this cheese style is made with a blend of cow’s and goat’s milk harvested from 2-3 different milkings.  But for Sea Change, Brian is exclusively using warm, fresh, cow’s milk from Graywall Farm… from a single milking, never more than 30 minutes out of the cow. It gives the cheese a sparkling dairy canvas to build on. From that foundation, a long and slow fermentation process and gentle handling of the curd are key to building such a delicate cheese. After the production day, which takes about 12 hours, the cheese is brined for 20 minutes, dried for several hours, and then ripened over the course of 9 days at 57 F to develop a natural, protective, edible, rind of yeast which emanates a distinctive, sweet aroma of wildflowers and plums.

Read the full post.

High-res Nufenen is another in the class of Swiss alpine cheeses that I love, easy-eating but with a beautiful, gamey complexity. I wrote about Challerhocker a little while ago, and the Nufenen is another in this style of Alpine. The official name is Nufener Bio Bergkäse “Wurzig” (which translates roughly to “Nufener Organic Mountain Cheese, Spicy”), and it’s made by the Sennerei Nufenen organic (“bio”) dairy cooperative, located in eastern Switzerland, in the Graubünden canton, the coop comprised of 22 dairy farmers from the surrounding region. Nufenen is a relatively young cheese, in production for some fifty years now (which, compared to long lineages of some of its Swiss Alpine cousins, makes it a baby). 
The milk for the Nufenen comes from alpage herds, which is to say that the Braunvieh cows are brought up into the mountains in the summer, to graze on the unique blend of grasses, herbs and other flora found in the rolling alpine pastures, during which time these seasonal cheeses are fabricated. 
Nufenen comes in relatively smaller format compared to to other Alpines, 10” in diameter and about 12 lbs in weight. The milk is thermalised — which is essentially pasteurization but at lower temperatures and for a briefer time than full pasteurization — to gently knock down the counts for the native cultures without wiping them out altogether, while also controlling undesirable cultures. In Europe, there are actually three classifications of milk processing recognized: Raw, Thermalised and Pasteurized. But as far as US regulators are concerned, anything less than full pasteurization, including thermalised, is considered “Raw” and treated as such.
The Nufenen is aged for 5-8 months before export, with the rind washed regularly with a special brine blend during flipping, developing the reddish-brown, slightly tacky rind and the deep caramel-brown strip under the rind. The paste is golden with a scattering of small round eyes; dense and creamy, with a distinct aroma similar to chicken broth, with floral notes. The flavor is buttery, nutty and fruity, a little bit of a “spicy” personality as the name implies — although it’s not spicy in the sense of hot but more of an herbal, complex quality — with meaty, hazelnut and caramelized onion notes and a subtle barnyard pungency on the finish.
Purchased at Stinky Brooklyn. 

Nufenen is another in the class of Swiss alpine cheeses that I love, easy-eating but with a beautiful, gamey complexity. I wrote about Challerhocker a little while ago, and the Nufenen is another in this style of Alpine. The official name is Nufener Bio Bergkäse “Wurzig” (which translates roughly to “Nufener Organic Mountain Cheese, Spicy”), and it’s made by the Sennerei Nufenen organic (“bio”) dairy cooperative, located in eastern Switzerland, in the Graubünden canton, the coop comprised of 22 dairy farmers from the surrounding region. Nufenen is a relatively young cheese, in production for some fifty years now (which, compared to long lineages of some of its Swiss Alpine cousins, makes it a baby). 

The milk for the Nufenen comes from alpage herds, which is to say that the Braunvieh cows are brought up into the mountains in the summer, to graze on the unique blend of grasses, herbs and other flora found in the rolling alpine pastures, during which time these seasonal cheeses are fabricated. 

Nufenen comes in relatively smaller format compared to to other Alpines, 10” in diameter and about 12 lbs in weight. The milk is thermalised — which is essentially pasteurization but at lower temperatures and for a briefer time than full pasteurization — to gently knock down the counts for the native cultures without wiping them out altogether, while also controlling undesirable cultures. In Europe, there are actually three classifications of milk processing recognized: Raw, Thermalised and Pasteurized. But as far as US regulators are concerned, anything less than full pasteurization, including thermalised, is considered “Raw” and treated as such.

The Nufenen is aged for 5-8 months before export, with the rind washed regularly with a special brine blend during flipping, developing the reddish-brown, slightly tacky rind and the deep caramel-brown strip under the rind. The paste is golden with a scattering of small round eyes; dense and creamy, with a distinct aroma similar to chicken broth, with floral notes. The flavor is buttery, nutty and fruity, a little bit of a “spicy” personality as the name implies — although it’s not spicy in the sense of hot but more of an herbal, complex quality — with meaty, hazelnut and caramelized onion notes and a subtle barnyard pungency on the finish.

Purchased at Stinky Brooklyn

RTS.ch: Two Women and One Vacherin (Video)

The cheese world was saddened by the recent announcement, from Andy Hatch, that Rush Creek Reserve, the wonderful Vacherin-style cheese from Uplands Cheese, will be taken out of production due to the uncertain regulatory environment created by recent FDA decisions (you can read more here). But in France and Switzerland at least, production season has begun on the bark-wrapped cheeses by which the Rush Creek was inspired. RTS.ch has a wonderful video from 2012, exploring the making of Vacherin Mont d’Or from the perspective of two women involved in the  fabrication of this amazing cheese (in French, but worth it even if you don’t speak the language for the inside look at the cheesemaking process): 

Two Women and One Vacherin

One is in milk, the other is in the woods. Daniele makes the cheese and Marianne the sangles, the thin strips of Spruce that give flavor and soul to this cheese of winter. Two artisans that perpetuate traditions in the heart of the Vallée de Joux, crucible of Vacherin Mont-d’Or.