Making Cheese the Way They Did 100 Years Ago!
It seemed like I drove forever to the middle of nowhere, where Vermont meets the end of the earth, to find Jesse Werner’s slice of heaven! The surprise was that I wasn’t the only one there.
Apparently, tourists from everywhere come in droves to see how cheese is made in a factory built by Calvin Coolidge’s father. (Yes, that’s the former President who actually set up a “Summer White House” in the upstairs of the general store down the street from the factory.)
Note: The Plymouth Cheese and Harvest Festival Sunday will be Sunday, September 19th from 10am-4pm. There will be cheese sampling by the Vermont Cheese Council, guided tours of the Plymouth Cheese Factory, wagon rides, historic farm and craft demonstrations, a cheese recipe contest, barbecue and more. Call the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site at 802-672-3773 for details.
I first met Jesse at the American Cheese Society’s Annual Conference in Seattle last week. Jesse was there, like many other cheesemakers, to meet buyers, make friends and taste good cheese.
He had entered two of his cheeses in the competition, (the Original Recipe category) so he will be getting good feedback soon in the mail (the judges give everyone who enters an evaluation).
Jesse didn’t expect to win a ribbon in the prestigious contest because he has only been making Plymouth Artisan Cheese for less than a year! That’s right- in one year, he has managed to set up his facility, including a retail store, produce over 900 pounds of cheese every week, enter the ACS cheese competition and attend his first conference in Seattle. Are you surprised to hear that he works seven days a week? And, he’s only 29!
I was lucky enough to be there when Jesse and his two fellow cheesemakers (Andy and Aaron) were starting a batch of cheese with 450 pounds of milk. Typically, they do this two days per week, but sometimes they ramp that up to four times. They get their milk from a neighboring farm (Holsteins) where the cows are pastured and the farm makes their own feed. (This is a good deal for the farmer who would be selling all his milk to the co-op, if not for this arrangement.)
First thing the next morning, they take the forms out of the presses and put them in a drying room for 24 hours. Then they vacuum seal them.