By Lorrie Baumann
In his fourth season as an artisan cheesemaker, Jeff Fenwick, cheesemaker at Back Forty Artisan Cheese in Lanark, Ontario, doesn’t regret leaving his job as director of admissions at a college in downtown Hamilton. His wife Jenna simply brought her own art and design business with her when they made the move, and although she’s streamlined the retail channels for her line of women’s bags and accessories to accommodate her new rural location, her studio still thrives. “We turned a barn into her studio here when we moved,” Jeff says. “She has a big Etsy store.”
Jeff and Jenna were living and working in Hamilton when his job at the college began to feel a little stale. The couple had always been interested in food, cooking and entertaining, and they’d started growing some of their vegetables. Jeff had gotten interested in fermenting and was making his own beer and cider. “I had made the odd batch of yogurt, but no advanced cheese making,” he says.
Jeff’s job required long hours at the college, and the two of them began to regret how little time they were spending together, too. All those yearnings prompted Jeff to start searching for a chance to leave his office job for a business related to food. They thought of opening a small cafe, perhaps. “While we were researching, this cheese business came up for sale. It’s a beautiful area, and we had some family in the area, and it turned out to be a great fit for us,” Jeff says. “A big part of moving out here was to spend more time together. The college job was very demanding. We weren’t seeing each other a whole lot.”
In business since late 1999 or early 2000, Back Forty Artisan Cheese was one of the first in Ontario to make raw sheep’s milk cheeses. Its former owner was ready to leave it behind but he wanted to leave the business in good hands, so he stayed involved long enough to teach Jeff how to make cheese from his recipes. “I had to learn a whole new art,” Jeff says. “I used his recipes, did some trial and error, made some mistakes. It took a good year to settle into it.”
Milking the sheep is outsourced to a nearby farm where the farmer has more livestock experience.“He has a flock of 200 sheep this year,” Jeff says. “He does what he does best and gives us high-quality milk that we can make good cheese with.”
Jenna handles the marketing and website management for the business, and today the cheese is being sold at specialty cheese shops and upscale grocers all over Ontario, with the majority going to the eastern half of the province, including Ottawa and some farmers markets and small retailers in Toronto. They just added the farmers market in Kingston to their distribution network.
Back Forty Artisan Cheeses makes four products in its regular line. Flower Station is a traditional-style feta. Highland Blue is a natural rind blue cheese that’s flavorful but a little smoother than most blue cheeses, with some extra butteriness from the sheep’s milk. “We’ve had a lot of success with that one,” Jeff says.
Bonnechere is a semifirm cheese, unique because it’s influenced by a Basque recipe. Its rind is flame-torched for a mahogany exterior and a hint of smokiness that gives it an interesting flavor on the rind around a body that’s tangy and a little fruity. It’s aged from three months to a year or more. Finally, Madawaska, a bloomy rind raw milk cheese that’s tricky to make. “It ripens from the outside in, so you get that ripeness right under the rind, with a little firmer body to it near the center,” Jeff says. “Madawaska is frequently back-ordered due to the high demand for this unique cheese and the fact that we can produce only limited quantities.”
Now that Jeff has settled into his new life, he’s growing it too. The couple just bought a new farm in North Frontenac, where they’re building a new facility that they expect to have in operation this summer.
For further information, visit www.artisancheese.ca. For more information about Jenna Fenwick’s line of screen-printed textile products, visit jennarose.ca.
The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® program, the nation’s only advanced training program of its kind for veteran cheesemakers, has graduated two new and four returning Master Cheesemakers. Wisconsin now has 55 active Masters working in 33 companies across the state.
The newest Master Cheesemakers, who were formally certified at a ceremony during the Wisconsin Cheese Industry Conference in Madison this week, are Adam Buholzer, of Klondike Cheese Company in Monroe, and Chris Roelli, of Roelli Cheese Haus in Shullsburg.
Buholzer is a fourth-generation cheesemaker and one of four Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers in the Buholzer family, including his father, Steve, and uncles, Ron and Dave Buholzer. Adam is now certified as a Master for feta and havarti.
Roelli is certified as a Master in cheddar, the variety on which his family’s original plant was founded. Since re-opening the business in 2006, he has emerged as an award-winning producer of artisanal Wisconsin originals, including Dunbarton Blue, Little Mountain and Red Rock. Like Buholzer, Roelli is a fourth-generation Wisconsin cheesemaker.
Joining the new Masters in the 2015 graduating class are veteran Masters who completed the program again to earn certification for additional cheese varieties. They are:
“It’s exciting to see the ranks of Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers continue to grow and for this unique program to have such a sustained, positive impact on cheesemaking in Wisconsin,” says James Robson, CEO of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). “Each year’s class takes the advanced training, expertise and insights they gain back to their plants and to the teams that they work with and mentor every day. The bar on product quality and innovation within those companies, large and small, just keeps rising.”
Established in 1994 through a joint partnership of the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin-Extension and Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker program is the most formalized, advanced training program in the nation. Patterned after European programs, it is administered by the Center for Dairy Research and funded by Wisconsin dairy producers, through WMMB. Applicants must be active, licensed Wisconsin cheesemakers with at least 10 years of experience in a Quality Assured Plant. Cheesemakers can earn certification in up to two cheese varieties each time they enroll in the three-year program and must have been making those varieties as a licensed cheesemaker for a minimum of five years prior to entering the program. Once certified, they’re entitled to use the distinctive Master’s Mark® on their product labels and in other marketing materials.
Fromagerie du Presbytère’s Laliberté is the new Grand Champion at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Gala of Champions. The cream-enriched soft cheese with a bloomy rind was determined best of all cheeses in 27 categories.
Sponsored and hosted every two years by Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix celebrates the high quality, versatility and great taste of Canadian cheese made from Canadian milk. “From all the excellent cheeses the jury tasted, we found Laliberté to be the stand-out. This cheese truly distinguished itself in texture, taste and overall appearance. Its exquisite aromatic triple cream with its tender bloomy rind encases an unctuous well balanced flavour with hints of mushroom, pastures and root vegetables,” said Phil Bélanger, Canadian Cheese Grand Prix jury chairman.
Named after Alfred Laliberté, the famous sculptor born in St. Elizabeth de Warwick, QC, the farmstead cheese took a year and a half to develop and is made from 100 percent Canadian cow’s milk.The cheesemaker is no stranger to the Grand Prix, as their Louis d’Or was notably named Grand Champion of the contest in 2011.
The Grand Champion and 27 category winners were selected from a record-setting 268 cheese entries submitted by cheese makers from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia. The submissions were then narrowed down to 81 finalists by the jury in February.
With the expansion of entries, the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix has added nine new categories to the competition. Gouda was judged in three different age categories, as well as a category exclusively for smoked cheeses. Cheeses were judged on appearance, flavor, color, texture and body, and salt content.
By Richard Thompson
An encouraging report by the FDA showed little evidence of antibiotic residuals in milk, with a system of dairy regulation that continues to provide safe and healthy milk to the market. Following up on concerns of elevated levels of antibiotics in dairy products, the study was done in part with farms that had a previous violation with antibiotic residue.
The report concluded that while the small number of positive drug residuals was encouraging, the FDA will continue to collaborate closely with state regulatory partners and the dairy industry to strengthen the residue testing program for Grade “A” milk. The FDA will also continue to educate dairy producers on best practices to avoid drug residue in both tissues and milk, keeping consumers safe and distributors compliant.
These results are a continuation of an ongoing trend for the past 20 years in reducing antibiotic residue in dairy products, noted Dr. Robert Collier, Professor of the School of Animal and Comparative Sciences at the University of Arizona, “The dairy industry is continually improving. Milk is tested at least five times before it gets to the store.” Collier, who was not part of the study, continued, “The dairy industry has a tried and true method to keep quality product that is safe and good for you.”
Targeting specific dairy farms with previous drug residue violations, the FDA wanted to study whether those farms with previous violations continued to have antibiotic residuals in their product. The FDA looked for evidence of drug residuals from 31 different antibiotics, and what they found was that over 99 percent from almost 2000 samples taken were free of any antibiotic residuals – it’s that tiny percentage remaining that raises concerns.
Using antibiotics in cattle is not unusual for the animal’s health and preventative care, but those medications are supposed to be metabolized before the animal can be considered a “lactating cow” that produces milk for sale. Recent studies have linked growing bacterial resistance to antibiotics with the infiltration of antibiotics into the human food chain.
Some consumers have responded to their concerns about what’s in their food by choosing organic alternatives. Don Grace, Dairy Buyer for Bashas’ family of stores, has seen the health and safety trend gaining momentum for some time, “Organic milk in dairy seems to have an increased interest with the customer. Sales are on an increase. Unfortunately suppliers can’t meet demand, and many times the product is on allocation,” he said. While fluid milk is the biggest seller in the category, especially due to its price, changing tastes are finding solutions in the growing selection of natural products. “Today’s customers know the benefits of milk, but are constantly being shown healthy alternates of organics like nut milk and soy milk,” Grace continued, “Milk is not the standard product anymore. People are finding they are lactose intolerant and allergic to certain items contained in fresh milk.”
But as Collier explained, just switching to organic might not be enough. “Even organic foods are not immune to pathogen questions. It’s a question of how it is handled and the safety preparations that are taken,” he said.
Milk is one of the most easily tested and regulated products, with safety tests conducted at every step of the distribution process from the bulk tanks at the dairy farms all the way to where it’s bottled, with random samples being tested before shipment. If any antibiotic residuals are found, the process allows for identification for possible residues along with the farms that they came from. Said Collier, “The bottom line is there are no antibiotic residuals in milk marketed.”
Despite the small number of dairy farms that may attempt to subvert the system in place, the vast majority of dairy cooperatives and distribution centers still adhere to the Grade “A” system of regulated production, following the federal, state and individual cooperative standards that are implemented from farms where the milk begins to the store or company where it will be bought or used.
The United Dairymen of Arizona, for instance, represent 85 percent of the dairy farms in Arizona, distributing 13 million pounds of milk a day, adhering to dairy standards that may exceed regulatory standards depending on the cooperative’s safety preferences. “Arizona has very progressive dairymen with animal wellness interests, following the new standard of FARM: ‘Farmers Assuring Responsible Management,’” said Mike Billotte, Vice President of Government Relations, United Dairymen of Arizona, “We follow the basic tenet of inspections of dairy, routine testing, residue testing and sediment testing. These routine testing agencies are enforced in every state.”
By Micah Cheek
Bohemian Creamery, based in Sebasopol, California, is turning heads with unique goat, sheep, and cow cheeses crafted by the proud hands of Lisa Gottreich. Gottreich began selling her cheeses commercially six years ago, but she was honing her skills in cheesemaking for years before that in her home kitchen. The transition was natural for Gottreich, who said, “Really, the principles are very much the same, but the equipment is different.” The cheeses she produces are held in high regard, even served in Alice Waters’ restaurant, Chez Panisse. When asked how she managed to sell to such a prestigious pantry, Gottreich simply said “I marketed to them.” That confidence is well earned. Her depth of knowledge at every stage of the cheesemaking process commands respect and assures the buyer of a carefully crafted and unique eating experience.
Cheese lovers will notice some unusual offerings in Bohemian’s selection. One cheese, called Cowabunga, hides cajeta, or goat’s milk caramel, in its center. Surf and Turf has a fine vein of local seaweed running through the middle. In cold and wet months, the conditions are perfect to make The Bomb, a goat and sheep milk cheese conditioned to render the gooeyness and funk vaguely reminiscent of an Epoisse.
For a newcomer to artisan cheeses, Gottreich suggests one of her soft goat cheeses, called BoDacious. “It’s got a candidum rind, it’s very mild. People are used to the chevre style, and know that as goat cheese,” she said. For a different goat cheese experience, try the more firmly textured and nutty Capriago, which is brined and aged for up to 10 weeks. Her current favorite is the Romeo, aged a year and a half for complexity and crystallization.
While some cheesemakers gloss over the microbes required for cheese production, Gottreich makes sure the cultures she uses get their time in the spotlight. “Cheeses are defined by their rinds, of which there are basically three: bloom, washed and natural or traditional. But you couldn’t really talk about them without talking about mold.” Her water buffalo milk Agua Bufazola, for instance, is made with a milder strain than is normally used for blue cheeses. The Italian gorgonzola blue mold eases the punch of the six-week-old cheese without compromising flavor. With the milking season’s first offerings, Gottreich has made a batch of Boho Belle, a creamy semi soft cheese that requires six to eight weeks of aging. The end result will show off a delicate bloomy rind of geotrichum candidum.
Bohemian Creamery stresses the importance of not only picking the right cheese, but the right time to eat it. Her quality cheeses can, with proper care, give you a variety of flavor experiences over time. “People say, ‘This isn’t the same cheese I had before.’ Well maybe that cheese was a month old, and this one is a month and a half old,” she says. “Just like I’m not the same person I was when I was 10, many of my qualities have changed. Cheese is living and dying, just like we are. You can pick which qualities you like at a certain age.”
Team Guggisberg Sugarcreek, of Guggisberg Cheese, Millersburg, Ohio, took top honors out of 1,892 entries from 28 states at the 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest for their Swiss wheel. Out of a possible 100 points, the Swiss wheel scored 98.496 in the final round of judging, during which judges re-evaluated the top 16 cheeses at an evening charity gala to determine the overall champion.
First runner-up in the contest, with a score of 98.389, is a brick cheese made by John (Randy) Pitman of Mill Creek Cheese in Arena, Wisconsin. Second runner-up is a medium cheddar, made by the Kiel Production Team, in Land O Lakes, Kiel, Wisconsin which scored 98.337.
“Every medalist should be extremely proud of being recognized as the best of the best in the largest national dairy competition ever held,” said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, which hosts the biennial competition.
Wisconsin took home the most gold medals, with 56 of the total 90 categories judged. New York came in second among the states, with seven golds. California had six gold medals, Vermont had five, Idaho had four, and Oregon had three. Wisconsin, New York and California captured the most medals in the debut yogurt classes, each winning two medals.
The United States Championship Cheese Contest is the largest technical evaluation of cheese, butter and yogurt in the country and is rooted in more than 120 years of history, beginning when the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association held its first cheese contest in 1891. In recent years, the event has flourished, more than doubling in size since 2001. This year, more than 33,000 pounds of dairy products were entered into the contest.
For more information on the contest, as well as complete results for all 90 entry classes and contest photos, visit http://www.uschampioncheese.org.
Wisconsin dominated the 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in Milwaukee, sweeping more than a third of the categories judged.
Wisconsin cheesemakers claimed two of the three overall awards. John (Randy) Pitman, a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker at Mill Creek Cheese Factory in Arena, Wisconsin, took First Runner-Up for his brick cheese. Founded in 1891, Mill Creek Cheese Factory is the oldest operating cheese plant in southwest Wisconsin’s Iowa County. Second Runner-Up went to Land O Lakes, Inc. in Kiel, Wisconsin, for its medium cheddar.
This year’s contest drew a record-breaking 1,892 entries from 28 states. Wisconsin captured 59 percent of awards: 160 of the total 270 given, far more than any other state. New York ranked second in total awards with 20, followed by Vermont with 18 and California with 16.
Fifty-six Wisconsin companies took one or more awards with 11 garnering five or more. They are: Agropur inc.; BelGioioso Cheese, Inc.; Carr Valley Cheese Co., Inc.; Edelweiss Creamery; Hidden Springs Creamery; Hollands Family Cheese, LLC; Klondike Cheese Co.; Lactalis Deli, Inc.; Mill Creek Cheese Factory; Montchevré-Betin Inc.; and Sartori Company.
Saputo Specialty Cheese is excited to announce the launch of a new item!
Joan of Arc® Goat Cheese Medallions are the newest extension to the brand’s line of traditional and flavored goat cheeses. The single-serve medallions are conveniently packaged as five 1-ounce individual portions in a single 5-ounce bag.
Joan of Arc goat cheeses are made with the freshest and highest quality goat milk collected from independent family farms and feature a mild and tangy flavor with a noticeably fresh aftertaste. The new goat cheese medallions provide a portion-controlled single serving of fresh and creamy chèvre perfect for on-the-go lunches and snacks. Serve with crackers, dried fruit and nuts for a filling meal or pair with crisp white wines for a well-rounded treat.
Retailers interested in placing orders for the new item can contact a Saputo Specialty Cheese sales representative by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 1.800.782.0741.
Stonyfield is launching its latest innovation to the yogurt aisle with an exclamation. Oh My Yog! is made with organic whole milk and fruit, and comes in a completely unique three-layer format – fruit on the bottom, honey-infused yogurt in the middle and a decadent layer of cream on top – for an everyday indulgence made better because it’s organic.
“Whole milk is part of the growing food trend of healthy fat making a comeback. Not only is it incredibly delicious – you really can’t beat a layer of cream on top of your yogurt – it’s also recognized as a more wholesome kind of real food,” shared Ben Angeloni, Vice President of Marketing for Stonyfield. “We have fans ask us for full fat yogurt every single day, and we’re excited to deliver something exceptional with Oh My Yog!”
Oh My Yog!, now available in select retailers nationwide, is easy to recognize in the yogurt aisle thanks to its colorfully striped Y&R Spain-designed packaging that was inspired by the three layers inside. “Everything about Oh My Yog! – from its name to its distinctive, striped packaging – reflects the experience you have when you’re eating it. It’s all about enjoying beautiful layers of a really delicious food,” said Angeloni.
Oh My Yog! comes in six decadent 6-oz varieties for the suggested retail price of $1.59: Madagascar Vanilla Bean, Wild Quebec Blueberry, Pacific Coast Strawberry, Gingered Pear, Apple Cinnamon, and Orange Cranberry.
Finlandia, the internationally renowned cheesemaker and a highly regarded brand in America, introduces Finlandia Imported Butter.
This Valentine’s day, Finlandia invites consumers to share their love with that special person by sharing their favorite breakfast; whipping up a savory dinner for two or cooking up some romantic, sweet desserts – all using Finlandia Imported Butter. This eclectic natural butter is perfect for breakfast, to butter a favorite muffin or croissant with its sweet, rich taste. Finlandia Imported Butter is also the go-to choice at dinnertime, to infuse a meal with the full butter experience, followed up by decadent, chocolate delights, also baked with Finlandia Imported Butter.
Finlandia Imported Butter is crafted from pure, fresh milk, and produced on family-owned farms in Finland. It’s perfect for the American natural palate and is made with non-GMO ingredients according to EU standards, with no rBST hormones. Finlandia Imported Butter is made from cows that graze heartily during the warm seasons, and are fed non-GMO feed.
Finlandia Imported Butter also offers a healthy addition to one’s diet. The American Heart Association (AMA) now recommends butter in moderation, in Americans’ diets. The AMA reports that consumers can healthfully obtain up to 7 percent of their daily calories with this healthy fat. Not all butters are alike. Finlandia Imported Butter is the all-natural choice for chefs and home cooks alike.
With butter regaining in popularity, even millennials are loving it. The newest coffee craze, BulletProof coffee, the butter-containing beverage, is steaming up cafes from coast to coast. The secret to making this hot cup of java is butter - but not just any butter. Finlandia(R) Imported Butter, the perfect match for BulletProof coffee: natural, rich, non-GMO butter added to coffee for a satisfying dose of morning energy. This new coffee trend is a hit, offering caffeine, filling calories and offering a healthy fat to fuel one’s busy morning.
Crafted with pure, wholesome milk, rich and creamy Finlandia Imported Butter brings butter from family-owned farms to the American table.
For more information, visit www.finlandiacheese.com.