Landcrafted Food is a new brand of smoked meat sticks offered by founders Gary Mitchell and Brantley Ivey, who are raising cattle in Grayson County, Virginia. They’ve been in the business of supplying fresh beef to Washington, D.C. restaurateurs for the past decade, and the new meat sticks, offered in two flavors: Original Smoked Beef Stick and Sweet Smoked Beef Stick, are a new venture in vertical integration of their grass-fed cattle farming operations.
They’re buying humanely-raised grass-fed cattle, for a premium price, from their neighboring small family farmers and turning the meat into premium meat snacks in a new facility on their farm. The premium prices they’re paying for beef that’s raised according to their quality standards are an important means of providing extra income to help those farmers stay afloat when commodity beef prices have slid to the low points of cyclic price swings. Visit them in booth 6215.
By Lorrie Baumann
A few cheesemakers at the Summer Fancy Food Show this year are offering new mixed milk cheeses that they hope will be a gateway for inexperienced consumers into artisanal cheeses from the milk of animals other than cows. These cheeses blend in flavors from the milk of goats and/or sheep to result in cheeses that have flavor notes that might be unfamiliar and interesting to neophyte cheese-lovers, but they’re combined with the reassuring familiarity of tastes from cow milk.
One of these is Landmark Creamery‘s new Switchgrass, a mixed cow and sheep milk cheese for which the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research collaborated on the recipe. The cheese has sweet, nutty characteristics like a sheep milk cheese, but because the cheese is made from cow milk as well, it can be offered at a retail price point in the lower $20s range rather than the price point dictated purely by the cost of sheep milk.
Landmark is a small Wisconsin creamery, just four years old, owned by Anna Thomas Bates and Anna Landmark, who are making and aging their cheeses in space belonging to other cheesemakers. The company has just launched a new Kickstarter campaign that the two Annas hope will produce the financing for new aging equipment and get them into their own aging space, Bates said. Landmark is exhibiting as part of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s booth, #450 at the Summer Fancy Food Show.
LaClare Farms cheesemaker Katie Fuhrmann is pursuing a similar idea with her GoCo, a fun cheddar cheese made with cow curds melded together with goat milk curds. She’s also offering Blueberry Merlot Chandoka, a holiday spread made from her Chandoka, which tied for a second place in the Brest of Show category at the 2015 American Cheese Society Competition & Judging. That version of Chandoka was aged by Standard Market, but LaClare Farms, owned by Fuhrmann’s parents, Larry and Clare Hedrich, now has enough aging space to allow Chandoka to stay home to be aged there. The Blueberry Merlot Chandoka is a deeply decadent cheese spread, soft enough to be dipped out of its container with a finger when it’s at room temperature. The Merlot helps give it a beautiful caramel color as well as a deep fruitiness that helps to round out the flavor of the blueberries. This cheese is rich enough to make a satisfying after-dinner dessert as well as a cocktail party offering. LaClare Farms is also exhibiting with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board in booth #450.
If you’re lucky enough to have the chance to visit the booth during the Summer Fancy Food Show, be sure not to miss the flight of five Wisconsin cheddars that the WMMB has for you to try. These include Vat 17 World Cheddar from Deer Creek Cheese, Hook’s Triple Play-Extra Innings from Hook’s Cheese, Heritage Weis 5-Year Cheddar from Red Barn Family Farms, Red Rock from Roelli Cheese Haus and 8-Year Aged Cheddar from Widmer’s Cheese Cellars. Widmer’s Cheese Cellars is known for traditionally-made cheeses with assertive flavors, but Master Cheesemaker Joe Widmer also knows how to make a cheese that’s perfectly balanced so that these strong flavors comfort and satisfy. The Hook’s Triple Play is another example of these interesting mixed-milk cheeses, as it combines milk from cows, goats and sheep. Extra Innings is an extra-aged variety of the original Triple Play, which received a third-place award in the 2015 American Cheese Society contest. The Vat 17 World Cheddar was made from a mix of cheese cultures from the different styles of cheddar cheese that are made around the world, ending with a cheese that combines the flavors of a familiar American-style cheddar with the nuances of British cheddars. Tasting the entire flight at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board booth will give you a new appreciation of the variety of flavors that are possible from a cheese you thought you knew.
Wisconsin has long been synonymous with cheese, but the state legislature has made it official – Wisconsin cheese is now the state dairy product. Wisconsin cheese joins a list of prominent state symbols including the dairy cow, designated the state’s domestic animal in 1971, and milk, Wisconsin’s official state beverage since 1987.
For more than a century, Wisconsin has led the nation in cheese production, producing over three billion pounds of cheese annually. Wisconsin cheesemakers combine generations of tradition with cutting edge innovation to craft the finest cheese, and Wisconsin is the only place outside of Europe to offer a prestigious Master Cheesemaker certification for veteran cheesemakers who have been making cheese for 10 years or more. The state regularly takes home top honors for its world class cheeses including a recent historic sweep of the cheese industry’s three major competitions – the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, the American Cheese Society Competition and the World Championship Cheese Contest.
The designation was proposed by a group of fourth grade students at Mineral Point Elementary in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. It was signed into law by Governor Scott Walker at a special signing event at Mineral Point Elementary on June 1. WMMB also participated in the historic signing event and provided fresh squeaky Wisconsin cheese curds for the students to enjoy.
“We are so pleased to give Wisconsin cheese the recognition it deserves by declaring it the official state dairy product,” said Governor Scott Walker. “Today we celebrate the efforts of Wisconsin’s hard-working dairy farmers and cheesemakers who make us all proud to live in America’s Dairyland.”
“This is a victory for everyone in the Wisconsin dairy community to celebrate–from the dairy farmers who produce the highest quality milk to the third and fourth generation cheesemakers who have dedicated their lives to making the best cheese in the world,” said Suzanne Fanning, Vice President, National Product Communications, of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). “We’d like to thank Mrs. Livia Doyle and the efforts of her fourth grade class at Mineral Point Elementary for proposing the idea and seeing it all the way to the governor’s desk! This is a wonderful way for kids to learn about the state government and see that they can make a difference.”
“The students are absolutely thrilled that their voices have been heard,” said Livia Doyle, fourth grade Teacher at Mineral Point Elementary School. “Being a part of this legislative process has been more meaningful and educational than ever imagined! The students have experienced firsthand what it means to have an idea and to share it with our representatives.”
To learn more about Wisconsin cheese visit EatWisconsinCheese.com.
Double Rainbow’s Strawberry Lemon flavor of frozen custard has been named the Grand Champion at the World Dairy Expo. Beating out more than 170 frozen desserts to claim the Grand Champion title, the award-winning Strawberry Lemon blends perfectly tart lemons and summer-sweet strawberries together in a delicious fruit ice, which is then swirled with Double Rainbow’s rich and creamy Original Vanilla Custard, a classic blend of egg, cream and Madagascar vanilla.
Strawberry Lemon is one a a line of indulgent new flavors that also includes Chocolate and Vanilla Malt, Sea Salt Caramel, Original Vanilla, Vanilla and Blueberry Pomegranate, Mango Tangerine, Raspberry and Tart Cherry. The overall theme of the new line is that they combine twists on nostalgic flavor combinations and exciting new textures created by swirling rich and creamy custards together with refreshing fruit ices.
Founded 40 years ago in the heart of San Francisco, Double Rainbow continues today to make award-winning super-premium ice creams, custards and non-dairy frozen desserts.
Dean Foods Company’s Mayfield Creamery ice cream brand is expanding further across the southern U.S. to a collection of new markets in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico. Mayfield Ice Cream debuted in 1923, and can currently be found in grocery stores across the southeast in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana.
In conjunction with the brand’s expansion across the south, the company also announced a brand restage initiative that takes Mayfield back to its roots, including restoring the name of the 94-year-old brand to Mayfield Creamery, the original trademark. To bring this update to life, Mayfield Creamery has completely overhauled its packaging graphics to showcase the brand’s core values, reflected in classic iconography and its heritage as a family dairy. The new packaging prominently features a classic Mayfield delivery truck set against the foothills of the Smoky Mountains highlighting the brand’s authentic southern roots. The new Mayfield Creamery logo has been adapted from the iconic circular Mayfield Dairy Farms logo recognized by generations of loyal fans.
Murray’s Cheese has introduced a brand new cheese to its exclusive Cave Master line. Ezra, a Clothbound Cheddar, is the first cheese created by Murray’s from initial concept all the way through research and development, cheesemaking and aging and then into the market. Ezra will be exclusively available at Murray’s New York flagship stores in Greenwich Village and Grand Central Terminal and online at www.murrayscheese.com.
“This cheddar is the culmination of many factors coming together over many years,” said Steve Millard, Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Operations for Murray’s Cheese. “From our unique relationships with cheese makers, to more than a decade’s worth of experience aging cheese in our New York City caves, there’s a lot of things we do well. But we hadn’t ventured into making cheese ourselves.”
Ezra was developed in partnership with Cornell University and Old Chatham (New York) Creamery and is named after the university’s founder, Ezra Cornell. Millard, along with Murray’s Cave Master Peter Jenkelunas, worked closely with Matt Ranieri, Ph.D., a Cornell alumnus and expert on food science and dairy technology, to develop the cheese. Aged 12 months in Murray’s cheese cave, Ezra is modeled after classic British clothbound cheddars. It’s crumbly and boasts bright flavors of lemon curd and brown butter.
“The Old Chatham Creamery team is pleased to be able to collaborate with the Murray’s team in creating and producing the new Murray’s Clothbound Cheddar,” said David Malcolm Galton of Cornell. “We are committed to producing high quality cheeses for Murray’s customers across the country and believe that Ezra is a fantastic place to start.”
Emmi Roth USA is expanding its sought-after Kaltbach line with a new imported cheese from Switzerland. Emmi Kaltbach Le Crémeux will join Kaltbach Le Gruyère AOP, Kaltbach Emmentaler AOP and Kaltbach Alpine Extra as available Swiss imports through Emmi USA.
Made in 9-pound wheels, Kaltbach Le Crémeux is a washed-rind cheese that is sweet and unassuming at first, but keeps you coming back for another bite as the flavor and texture develops and becomes reminiscent of a soft cooked egg yolk in a bowl of ramen. It is a semi-firm cheese that’s crafted with pasteurized milk and microbial rennet and aged a minimum of 120 days in the Kaltbach caves in the Alpine Valley near Lucerne, Switzerland.
Swiss cheesemakers and affineurs carefully handpick a select number of wheels to continue their refinement in the Kaltbach Caves. The caves are a 22 million-year-old natural sandstone labyrinth with a small tranquil river that runs through it. It’s that river that inspired the complex’s name – Kaltbach means “cold river,” and it’s what allows for a constant 96 percent humidity in the cool, mineral-rich cave air. The enormous amount of cave-wall surface area helps regulate the aging atmosphere and promotes a stable setting for the cheese to ripen. The porous nature of the sandstone acts as a give and take. It absorbs moisture when the air is too damp and releases it when it’s needed. This natural process regulates the humidity and is a crucial part of texture and flavor development that makes Kaltbach cheeses unlike any other in the world.
“The demand for artisan cheese continues to grow in the United States,” says Tim Omer, President and Managing Director at Emmi Roth USA. “We remain the number-one importer of Gruyère in the country and are proud to continue to introduce new products to the United States from our parent company in Switzerland. Like all cheeses we import, Kaltbach Le Crémeux is unique and special.”
Emmi Kaltbach Le Crémeux was introduced in the U.S. at the Winter Fancy Food Show from January 21-23 in San Francisco. The entire Kaltbach line is available to retailers nationwide and will continue to be available in specialty cheese shops throughout 2017.
Cheese lovers (a.k.a. turophiles) around the world will have the chance to nibble on traditional raw milk cheeses at more than 600 events on April 22, 2017, designated Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day.
Created by the Oldways Cheese Coalition in 2015, and in association with the prestigious Guilde Internationale des Fromagers, this worldwide holiday offers cheese enthusiasts a chance to participate in events celebrating the distinctiveness and cultural heritage of cheeses made with raw milk.
This year’s celebration will highlight four worldwide flagship events at:
Even if you can’t make one of the flagship events, there are hundreds more, taking place everywhere from Whole Foods to your local cheese shop. (Partial list)
“Raw milk cheeses are unique in flavor, history, and carry on traditional cheesemaking practices,” said Carlos Yescas, Program Director, Oldways Cheese Coalition. “The producers who make them are passionate about craftsmanship and animal husbandry. Their cheeses represent years, even decades, of knowledge and thoughtful innovation to better their products.”
Since cheese was first discovered many millennia ago it has been made with pure raw milk. In fact, it was only in the last century that cheese began to be made with pasteurized milk.
More than half of cheese lovers prefer raw milk cheeses and purchase them regularly. It’s no wonder since the natural microflora in raw milk produces cheeses — such as Le Gruyère AOP, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Roquefort and many American originals — that are characteristic of local environments, expressive of terroir, and evocative of complex flavors.
Another benefit? Scientific studies reveal that, when consumed in moderation, cheese is a tremendous way to add healthy fats, minerals, vitamins and probiotics to your diet.
Retailers, restaurants, producers and cheese enthusiasts are invited to participate with their own events. For more information about how to be involved with Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day or to join the Oldways Cheese Coalition, visit www.oldwayscheese.org.
Everyone is encouraged to join in the cheese conversation and celebration on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #RawMilkCheese.
The 2017 American Cheese Society Judging & Competition is now open for entries!
ACS’s annual judging of American cheeses and cultured dairy products will take place July 24-25, 2017 in the organization’s hometown of Denver, Colorado. The judging will be held immediately prior to Cheese with Altitude, the 34th Annual ACS Conference in Denver.
Winners in each category, including “Best of Show” honorees, will be revealed at the Awards Ceremony in Denver on Friday, July 28. Entry deadline is May 12, with late entries accepted until May 19 for a higher fee.
By Lorrie Baumann
Terry and Paula Homan, husband and wife and Co-Founders of Red Barn Family Farms, think they’ve found a cheesy solution for foundering Wisconsin family dairy farms. Their solution goes like this: find farms where the cows are treated like members of the family, put both cows and kids to work, and then ask members of the public to pay a fair price for premium quality dairy products. It’s a scheme that has worked around the world for generation upon generation, but it’s been faltering recently in the U.S. and in Wisconsin in particular.
Terry Homan grew up on a Wisconsin family farm and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1996. From the vantage point of his veterinary practice at farms across the state, he began noticing that Wisconsin’s small family farms were disappearing.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, there were 9,000 fewer Wisconsin farms with less than a thousand acres in 2012 than there had been just five years earlier in 2007. Many of these farmers simply retired as they aged, but many others left the business because their sweat wasn’t diluting enough of the red ink. The total acreage of Wisconsin farm land dropped by about half a million acres between 2007 and 2012. More recently, the number of Wisconsin farms dropped by 100 and 100,000 acres of farm land were lost during 2015, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.
The volatility of dairy prices has a lot to do with that. In 2007, Wisconsin dairy farmers were getting an average of $19.30 per hundredweight of milk, but in the five years previous to that, the average milk price had topped out at $16.90 in 2004, and in the next five years, they’d drop to $13.10 in 2009 before crawling their way up to $20.30 in 2011 and then sliding back down to $19.40 in 2012, according to USDA statistics for Wisconsin. A hundredweight of milk is about 11.6 gallons, so at $20 per hundredweight, the farmers were getting $1.72 a gallon for their milk, but at $13.10, they were only getting $1.13.
Getting family dairy farmers off the milk price roller coaster that was costing them their farms was going to mean figuring out a way to put more money in their pockets, and that depended on finding retailers and consumers willing to pay a premium price for milk from family farms. The Homans founded Red Barn Family Farms, which is, at its heart, a brand that stands for the notion that consumers looking for food that aligned with their own values might be willing to take the rubber bands off their wallets to get milk with exceptionally good taste, produced by cows living long, healthy bovine lives on real Wisconsin family farms.
To get that milk, they went looking for some family farmers who shared the values underpinning the oath that Terry had taken when he became a veterinarian, when he swore to use his knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of livestock resources and the promotion of public health. They didn’t have far to go in Wisconsin, where nearly 12 percent of the state’s workforce makes a living in agriculture. “These farms are small. The owning family does the majority of the work handling the milking of the cows,” said Terry. “Personal knowledge of each animal as an individual, and therefore the care of each animal as an individual, is important…. When the same person is caring for that animal, they know the individual traits of each animal, as opposed to every animal being treated as the same widget.”
He offered to pay the farmers a premium for their milk if they followed a few strict rules promoting good animal husbandry, had their farms certified by the American Humane Association and passed laboratory tests for milk quality. “Our goal is never to be negative – to be very positive. Our Red Barn Rules incentivize excellent animal husbandry rather than incentivizing more production,” Terry said. “On one of our farms, during the winter, the cows go outside for exercise during the day, provided it’s not a blizzard. [The farmer] will go out several times a day and open the barn door for the cows that are ready to come in. That’s a day-to-day example of individual care. You know the animal individually, with its individual traits; you will pick up more quickly and easily when something is wrong.”
Once the Homans had a couple of small family farmers signed up and delivering their milk in early 2008, Terry and Paula started going out to supermarkets to offer Dixie-cup samples. It turned out that they were right – consumers were indeed willing to pay more for delicious milk.
This is where cheese starts to wedge its way into the story, because while some consumers were willing to pay a premium for better milk, that was still a niche market, and by midsummer of 2008, the cows in the program were flooding it with an extremely perishable product. For the past several thousand years, cheese has been a known solution to that dilemma.
Wisconsin leads the nation in cheese production, accounting for 26 percent of all U.S. production, so it was no minor coincidence that the Hintz family was making some good cheeses at their Springside Cheese creamery just up the road in Oconto Falls. Springside uses small batch production to make custom orders for Cheddars, Colby, Colby Jack and Monterey Jack cheeses and has several American Cheese Society and U.S. Championship Cheese Contest awards to its credit, including three awards for bandaged Cheddars, the most recent a second-place award in the class from the 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.
The Hintz family agreed to make Cheddar cheeses from the Red Barn milk for the Homans to sell under their new company’s brand name, and Red Barn Family Farms was in the cheese business. “We started with Cheddars. The bandaged Heritage Weis was the starting point,” Terry said. “We chose that because we think it’s the perfect complement to our family farms, the heritage of the bandaged wheel and the handmade care with which they’re made.”
Since then, the Red Barn Family Farms’ line of Heritage Weis Cheddars, which are bandaged wrapped 13-pound midget wheels, and its Heritage White Cheddars, which are made from the same recipe in 40-pound blocks, have won 16 awards in the past six years at the U.S. Cheese Championship and the World Cheese Championships. “In 2012 at the World Cheese Championship, our bandaged Cheddars actually swept the category for bandaged Cheddars,” Terry said.
With that success, the Homans asked John Jaeggi at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Dairy Research to suggest another cheese for the Red Barn milk. “He suggested New Zealand Cheddar as a model for the Red Barn,” Terry said. “That style lets the natural grass flavors come through the Cheddar. We agreed that was a perfect fit.” New Zealand’s prized Cheddar cheeses are typically made from unpasteurized milk from grass-fed cows, with flavors produced by a particular cocktail of local lactobacilli cultures, and coagulated with animal rennet. Once the Center for Dairy Research had developed a recipe for the cheese that was to be called Edun White Cheddar, the Homans asked Jon Metzig to make it for them at Willow Creek Creamery.
Metzig is a fourth-generation cheesemaker who grew up working at his family’s cheese plant and eventually became the youngest Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker in the state’s history. Jointly sponsored by the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, the University of Wisconsin’s Extension Service and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program requires its applicants to have held a Wisconsin cheesemaker license for a minimum of 10 years before they can qualify to embark on a three-year training program and apprenticeship that ends in a rigorous written examination, and finally, certification as a Master Cheesemaker for a particular variety of cheese. Applicants may certify in only two types of cheese each time they go through the program. Jon Metzig is certified as a Master Cheesemaker for Cheddar and Colby cheeses. He makes Edun in 40-pound blocks for Red Barns on demand as the orders for the cheese come in. “We schedule that as needed on a per month basis. Sometimes in the busy season, there might be several days,” Terry said. “It depends on our orders and his schedule. We accommodate each other’s needs.”
Then the Homans went back to the Center for Dairy Research with a request for a recipe for a unique American cheese. The result was Cupola, which has the sweet caramel flavor of a Gouda at the front, followed by the long tangy finish of a Parmesan. It’s often thought to resemble a Piave, a classic Italian cow milk cheese with a Protected Designation of Origin near the Piave River in the Dolomites region. “Cupola is just a really versatile cheese. It’s great with a glass of wine, but you can grate it,” said Paula. “It melts beautifully.”
For this cheese, the Homans asked Katie Fuhrmann, the Head Cheesemaker at her family’s LaClare Farms, to lend her skills. A goat dairy, La Clare Farms is currently best known for its Standard Market Cave Aged Chandoka, a mixed milk cheese in the style of a New Zealand Cheddar, made by Fuhrmann at LaClare Farms and aged in the caves at the Standard Market in Illinois. Standard Market Cave Aged Chandoka won the first place award for American Originals at the 2015 American Cheese Society Judging and Competition and then went on to tie for second place in the Best of Show category.
Most recently, Red Barn brought out a Monterey Jack in 2016 that’s made by the Hintz family at Springside, and then went back to Metzig to make Le Rouge, which was introduced in limited release in 2016. It’s a washed-rind alpine-style cheese with a reddish-orange edible rind made from an original recipe and aged eight to nine months before sale. “When you taste it, it’s reminiscent of a French Comte,” Terry said. “It hearkens back to the traditions of our Red Barn Family Farms.”