On the cheese board this Easter Sunday were a couple of my own cheeses, the “Finback Wheel”, and its bloomy rind sibling. These are from the batch I made during my time at Woodock Farm. Made with pasteurized Jersey cow’s milk from Jersey Girls Dairy, the wheel on the right was washed with Finback Brewery's Smoked Porter and aged for about 6 weeks. The wheel on the left is the same exact cheese, but was left unwashed, which allowed the white Penicillium Candidum molds to take over, and also produced a very different final product, of course, more of a classic mild, buttery, tangy bloomy rind cheese. The beer-washed wheels, on the other hand, while the beer influence was subtle, were definitely more pungent, with a yeasty, fruity overtone and a little bit more complex flavor. The paste was also moister and creamier, evenly ripened, not oozing but with a nice bulge to it as it warmed.
For the next time I do this, I’d like to get the beer to assert itself more, perhaps with a beer brining in the beginning, as these were dry-salted and then washed with beer later in the aging.
The Wall Street Journal reports on the Crown Finish caves in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home to NYC’s newest affinage facility. You can check out Cheese Notes’ visit to Crown Finish from a couple months ago here. Via the WSJ:
A Brooklyn couple has found a unique place to pair beer and cheese: a warren of barrel-vaulted chambers under Bergen Street.
Husband-and-wife team Benton Brown and Susan Boyle are taking a 70-foot long tunnel, last used by the defunct Nassau Brewery in 1912, and pressing it into service once again. The tunnel, named Crown Finish Caves after their Crown Heights neighborhood, will be used to ferment cheese, not beer.
At first, he considered becoming a cheesemaker, and studied the art in Vermont and France. That was, until he decided that it would make more business sense to enter later in the cheesemaking process. “We don’t have the farm or the animals,” Mr. Brown deadpanned.
By the end of May, Crown Finish Caves will receive its first shipment of cheese, 1,000 pounds of Gorgonzola, Parmesan and pasta filata, among other varieties. It marks the city’s latest entry into the cheese-aging business, a relatively recent phenomenon in the U.S.
For the year-old Parish Hill Creamery in Westminster West, Vt., working with Crown Finish will mean doubling its output. Between May and November, the creamery—Crown Finish’s first client—will send the Brooklyn operation 15,000 pounds of mostly Tomme-style raw cow’s milk cheese, none of it over two weeks old.
"We would be going into debt to build an aging facility," said owner Peter Dixon, who met Mr. Brown at one of his cheese-making workshops.
Mr. Dixon, 56, said he and his wife Rachel Fritz Schaal will still age cheese in a root cellar on their farm, and will compare the taste of their batch with that of Crown Finish’s when the cheese is ready.
For help, they turned to the French company Clauger, which specializes in the kind of stainless steel ventilation equipment used by dairy giants such as Danone. Today, the tunnel features lime-washed bricks and a gleaming, state-of-the art filtration system that ensures the room is filled with clean air every hour.
Check out the full post.
(Photo ©2014 WSJ.com)
The Burlington Free Press reports on the rise of goat dairies in Vermont, and Vermont Creamery’s role in that expansion:
Newborn lambs and goat kids gamboling around farms are a sure sign of spring in Vermont. But at the new Ayers Brook Goat Dairy, adorable baby goats will be a year-round presence as part of Vermont Creamery’s efforts to build a successful model for goat dairy farming in the state.
Touring a visitor recently through the new barn at the company’s latest venture, Vermont Creamery co-owner Allison Hooper explained dairy goats need to be bred and milked throughout the year to provide the busy production facility in nearby Websterville with the raw ingredients needed to craft the fresh and ripened goat cheeses that are in demand across the country.
Although half of Vermont Creamery’s product line is now made with cows’ milk sourced from the St. Albans Co-op, it all started with goats back in 1984 when Hooper, now 54, was working as a dairy lab technician in Vermont after a stint as a cheese apprentice in France. Thirty years later, their award-winning specialty food company ships 3 million pounds of product annually and has played a significant role in building both the local and national artisanal cheese community.
Throughout the years, however, sourcing enough regionally produced, high-quality goats’ milk year-round to fill growing nationwide demand for Vermont Creamery products has been a challenge.
Over the years Hooper and Reese have tried numerous strategies to develop more goat dairy partners within the state. The new dairy is the latest, and most significant, tactic in this ongoing effort, and something that Hooper said she has been scheming about for years.
Simply put, she said, “We felt that in order to solicit farmers and advertise that this is a viable enterprise, we really had to do it ourselves…With this we can say, ‘We feel your pain. We understand the labor issues, the feed issues, the animal health issues. We can work through this together.’”
Read the full story.
(Photos ©2014 Burlington Free Press)
Dr. Dennis D’Amico taught the Sanitation & Hygiene class when I was attending VIAC, and it was without a doubt one of the most informative (if occasionally stomach-turning) classes of the whole program. Dr. D’Amico is a strong supporter of artisan and raw milk cheesemakers, but believes that the only way we can continue growing the artisan cheese movement is if we commit absolutely to food safety, sanitation and hygiene, and the planning and documentation of those practices through HAACP and other processes. As the recent Listeria-related recall at Crave Brothers shows, even the most well-established, respected cheesemakers can fall victim to contamination.
VIAC is now closed, but Dr. D’Amico has recently announced a workshop to be offered at the University of Connecticut on June 6th. He’ll also be offering the same workshop at Cornell, on August 27th. If you’re in the area and haven’t taken a workshop like this previously, I highly recommend it.
Check out DairyEvents.com to learn more or register.
Check out this archival film of Camembert production, showing how this trademark cheese of Normandie was made in the 1920’s. French site Ina.fr has a number of such films, focusing on Beaufort, Cantal, Roquefort and many other French AOC cheeses. A wonderful glimpse into the past, and also a reminder that small-scale cheesemaking hasn’t changed that much, when you get down to it.
Found at the Tumblr of Sugar House Creamery, a small cheesemaker located in the Adirondacks, in Upper Jay, NY.
For their Green Cheese blog series, which focuses on the intersection of cheesemaking, environmental issues and sustainability, Culture Magazine talked to goat dairy Santa Gadea, located in San Cristóbal de Rioseco, Spain. Via Culture:
Touted as the first farm in Europe to be 100% sustainable and organic, they are also completely carbon negative—an impressive feat for dairy housing 1,300 French Alpine goats. Founded by Alfonso Pérez-Andújar and staffed by less than 15 people, the farm is located in San Cristóbal de Rioseco and focuses on both traditional and less conventional environmental strategies to reduce emissions. Though they’ve owned the property for 12 years, they’ve only been seriously producing cheese for the last two and a half years.
I spoke with Marta Milans, vice president of the dairy and daughter of Pérez-Andújar. “My dad’s passion for nature and trees is insane,” she says. This is good news, considering that their large property is very lush and green. Pérez-Andújar want to keep as much of the natural forest as possible, and began his reforestation efforts several years ago. Milans explains that “variety is important, because that way the fauna has many more options. You create a much healthier animal.” Over 120,000 trees have been planted to date, many of them pine or walnut. All of that extra greenery removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, to which Milans simply says, “It’s a beautiful thing to do, to give back to Earth that way.”
Along with reforestation, the farm features solar and wind farms, in addition to less traditional eco-friendly techniques. Pérez-Andújar is a big fan of effective micoorganism (EM) technology. Discovered by a Japanese scientist in the 1980’s, EM technology is a precise combination of three types of bacteria—phototrophic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, and yeasts. Milans explains, “In a certain combination, it regenerates soil and earth in an incredible way.” When applied in the correct ratios to manure, bacteria will feed off gases, which reduces methane and carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent and speeds up the process of turning manure into usable compost.
Birdseye view of a new experimental cheese, washed with Finback Brewery Smoked Porter. This is about 1.5 weeks in, with light beer brine washes every other day. You can see the pinkish B.Linens cultures developing, as well as a thin layer of white mold, Penicilium Candidum, which gets mostly wiped off with each washing, but holds on in the nooks and low areas.
This cheese also has a good stink developing, not too strong, but most definitely present.
Last year I posted about Wegman’s partnership with Cornell on a new cheesemaking educational program, and their plans to open a new affinage facility; it looks like the big day has come, as they officially announce that the caves are open for business. Via The Buffalo News:
Wegmans’ cheese caves are open for affinage.
The supermarket has begun full operations at its 12,300-square-foot cheese-ripening building in Rochester. Under the watchful eye of an “affineur,” or cheese-ripening specialist, specialty cheeses will be aged and finished before being sold at Wegmans stores.
The building will house a Brie room and rooms for seven other kinds of soft cheeses and washed-rind cheeses.
The Chronicle Herald reports on an urban cheesemaker, located in Halfax, Nova Scotia:
Cows, goats, rural quiet, an inspiring view — Lyndell Findlay doesn’t have any of these.
The setting may not be as pastoral as the term cheese maker conjures up in your mind, but Findlay’s new north-end Halifax blue cheese operation already smells like a success.
Using a 300-litre vat she bought secondhand for $15,000, Findlay gets 100 litres of milk delivered at a time that she makes into 15 kilograms of blue cheese under the Blue Harbour brand. She got her licence in November and the first batch, after aging, was ready for sale at the end of January.
“It’s a very moist, creamy cheese,” said Findlay, who plans to start two new recipes for blues with sharper flavours later this year.
“Because there are so few of us in Nova Scotia, I didn’t want to make the same kinds of cheese as everybody else. So blue cheese is a little niche that I can fill and be accepted by everybody else.”
Check out the full story.
New book on the Cheese Notes shelf: The Small Scale Dairy: The Complete Guide to Milk Production for the Home and Market, by Gianaclis Caldwell. Caldwell is the author of Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking, which I’d say is currently the best how-to book out there for home and small-scale cheesemakers. She also wrote The Small-Scale Cheese Business (formerly titled The Farmstead Creamery Advisor), another must-read for anyone considering opening their own cheesemaking business.
I’ll have a review of it soon, but in the meantime you can learn more at the site of Chelsea Green Publishing.