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.
A few weeks ago, after spending the morning with the cheesemakers at Von Trapp Farmstead, I got back on the road and drove towards Greensboro, VT, home to one of America’s more unusual experiments in cheese, the Cellars At Jasper Hill. Much more than just cheesemakers, the Cellars, launched by brothers Mateo and Andy Kehler in 2008, have taken on an ambitious goal: to bring the European affinage model of cheese aging and distribution to Vermont, bringing together Vermont cheesemakers large and small in one facility and creating a sustainable economic vehicle for small Vermont dairies in the process. The Kehler’s motto, “A Taste Of Place”, captures their aspiration to create a new, distinctly American version of terroir.
(Check out more photos from my visit)
Whereas most cheesemakers both make and age their own cheeses, in the affinage model this process is divided between the maker — who takes the cheese from milk to wheel — and the affineur — who receives the young wheels and then ages them to completion in specialized facilities. This is a well established economic and distribution model in France in particular,
Three Vermont cheesemakers brought home honors from last week’s 2014 World Champion Cheese Contest, held in Madison, Wi. A panel of 50 international judges picked the winners in various classes including varieties entered from around the world.
Among the winners were these Vermont companies:
Cabot Creamery Cooperative, of Cabot, was awarded three Best of Class Awards for its 2+ Years Cheddar, Hot Buffalo Wing Cheddar and Cottage Cheese. Cabot also took third place for its Medium Cheddar.
Cellars at Jasper Hill, of Greensboro, was awarded two Best of Class Awards for its blue veined Bayley Hazen Blue and soft ripened Harbison.
Grafton Village Cheese Company, of Brattleboro, was awarded third place for its mixed milk Shepsog.
Read the full story.