Recently, we couldn’t stop thinking about a question that came in a while ago, “What is your single best tip for making cheese?” After sending a reply, we realized, there may be more than one answer to this not so simple question.
After asking four cheese making experts, we received amazing answers which included thoughts on sustainability, good milk, accurate record keeping, working with your hands and more.
Along with receiving world wide recognition, each of the four experts who weighed in were awarded “Best of Show” from the American Cheese Society within the past five years, a prestigious award only given to one cheese out of 14,000+ each year.
Stay tuned in for more information on the upcoming American Cheese Society Conference and their amazing Festival of Cheese!
Read on for answers to, “what is your single best tip for making cheese?”
Jasper Hill Farm, Greensboro, VT
Best of Show 2013 – Winnimere
Get Pigs. Cheesemaking is a hard-won battle of will and precision, and things go wrong all the time. Turn your mistakes into delicious bacon while you develop a recipe (which you should never actually stop doing) and feed them the whey when all is well in the world…
Beechers Handmade Cheese, Seattle, WA and New York, NY
2012 Best of Show – Cloth Bound Cheddar
Start with the very best quality milk available, and get it to the make vat as quickly as possible. After that, measure everything that can be measured, and keep track as accurately as possible.
-Kurt Beecher Dammeier & Jon Gougar
Rogue Creamery, Central Point, OR
2011 Best of Show – Rogue River Blue
The best tip for cheese making is to produce or source the best milk:
Quality grass based milk is essential for great cheese! Creating the finest cheese in the world begins producing or sourcing the best quality milk representing the flavors of the region. Rogue Creamery’s milk is produced at its own dairy. It’s herd of Brown Swiss, Holstein, Milking Shorthorn , Montbeliarde and Jersey cows. Its cows primarily graze and their feed is supplemented with grass hay from Rogue Creamery’s farms and grain certified organic and gmo free from Rogue Grange Coop. The less one does with the milk is better for the cheese, its flavor and ability to age over time. Use only non standardized whole milk and never homogenize. Gently heat milk to nearly 100 degrees for culture development and introduction of molds and coagulant and always make cheese in an open vat and by hand!
Uplands Cheese, WI
2001, 2005 & 2010 Best of Show – Pleasant Ridge Reserve
“My advice is to take good notes. I make a cheese that’s usually aged for about a year, but even when making fresh or soft ripened cheeses, many batches pass through your hands and your head before you have a chance to really evaluate one that’s come ripe. If the devil’s in the details than so is the beauty, and it’s impossible to remember all the details (numbers, sensations, impressions, etc.) from each batch. Keeping good notes allows a cheesemaker to track the causes and effects between the circumstances of the milk production, the cheesemaking and the affinage, on the one hand, and the characteristics of the finished cheese, on the other. Not only will you learn batch to batch and season to season, but these notes serve as a reference library over the years. I have notes on every batch of Pleasant Ridge ever been made and I refer to them often.”
Reading over these answers also bought up another important aspect of cheese making for us. Although cheese making goes hand in hand with science, it’s also a true form of art. Every cheese maker has their own vision and guiding light which drives their passion in creating a masterpiece they call cheese.
Have these amazing artists given you inspiration?
Perhaps it’s time there are more pigs in the backyard, a greater desire to know where our milk and food comes from, more time spent observing what we do and making note of it for the future, and finding value in using our hands to create a masterpiece that spreads inspiration far and wide!
Now, it’s your turn – what is your single best tip for making cheese…?