Discussions about making cheese, whether on the farm, as a hobby, or industrially.

Jersey Cheese Awards

2008_0331jerseycow.jpgI received the following email the other day from Deborah over at the Jersey Cheese Festival:

I am the event co-ordinator for the first World Jersey Cheese Awards, a cheese competition purely for cheese made using Jersey Milk. The competition is due to be held in the island of Jersey on May 23rd. I am looking to contact cheesemakers using only Jersey Milk, would any of your readers be able to help? We do have a website for the awards on

Cheese made from the milk of Jersey cows is especially tasty, owing to an unusually high cream content. Of course, you wouldn't want to make a Parmigiano-Reggiano from Jersey milk, but most cheeses really benefit from the extra fat. In fact some cheesemakers, like the folks behind Vermont Shepherd and Nettle Meadow Kunik, add Jersey cream to their sheep and goat cheeses to give them some heft and richness.

The Jersey cow originated in Jersey islands of England, but can now be found all over the world. This is the first I've seen of a cheese contest specific to one dairy breed, and it'll be interesting to see the results.

If you have any leads on Jersey cheesemakers for Deborah, leave a comment here or contact her directly.

The 411 on Kosher Cheese

The Orthodox Union, a Jewish organization best known for its kosher certification service (symbolized on food packaging by the logo above, the letter U with a circle around it), has published some interesting audio content about kosher cheese. For those of you who may wonder what makes cheese kosher or not, or why kosher cheese is so much more expensive, or why it's much easier to find soft kosher cheeses than hard ones, these audio programs are for you.


Creaturely Needs

Today I finished reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, which, if you can get past the occasional gratuitous nostalgia, is a well-written, impeccably-researched, and tremendously entertaining book. In it, Pollan follows three different food chains from beginning to end: industrial, pastoral (referring to organic and farmstead/local food chains), and personal (hunting & gathering). The industrial food chain, not surprisingly, is almost entirely dictated by the ubiquity of cheap corn, while the pastoral food chain has its foundations in the cultivation of grass pasture, and the personal in the bounties that spring forth from trees (or, more generally, forests).

One of the sections that resonated most personally was one in which Pollan theorizes why many people today fill their lives with activities that draw on ancient or ancestral ways, especially certain food-related activities such as baking bread or making homemade preserves. He proposes that this is largely because we are so is an amazing website that surely puts the "nerd" in curd nerd. Run by Michael Mullan, a food technologist and professor of food science in Ireland, contains a wealth of scientific information on the bacterial cultures used in cheesemaking, on the organisms that can harm those bacteria (phages), and on factors that can affect quality and quantity (yield) in cheesemaking. If you have any interest in the science of cheesemaking, like I do, you could while away many, many hours browsing this site. There's also a well-populated links page, rounding out one of the best cheese-related sites out there. Apparently the feeling is mutual, since, as of this writing, is the "featured website" on!

2006 World Championship Cheese Contest Winners!

Today was the final day of the 2006 World Championship Cheese Contest held in Madison, Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. The Grand Prize went to a Swiss Emmentaler made by Walo von Muhlenen, while the two runners-up hailed from the Netherlands.

There were also lots of specific categories, each of which had its own winner. Vermont's own Cabot cheese won

Using Whey to Make Ethanol

Whey, the protein and sugar-laden by-product of cheesemaking, may turn out to be an important raw material in the manufacture of ethanol. Sometimes seen as a problem of disposal, whey can in fact be reused for a number of other applications. Ricotta cheese is traditionally made from the whey left over after mozzarella making; whey is also used as a food supplement for both livestock and humans (as an additive in muscle-building supplements and other foods). But since whey contains a good deal of milk sugar (lactose), scientists are researching ways to turn that sugar into ethanol, a fuel that promises to eclipse crude oil in the next decade.

President Bush referred to ethanol in his 2006 State of the Union Address, and since then the media has been buzzing with news about it. Most of the ethanol in this country is made from

The Endless Debate: Pasteurized or Raw?

In this recently published article from Gourmet Retailer Magazine, James Mellgren gives a very thorough account of the raging debate between pasteurized and raw milk, particularly as it relates to cheese.

His point about the possibility of quality cheeses made from pasteurized milk is well taken; and if you've ever tried the Mt. Tam or Red Hawk cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, you might be inclined to agree. In the final paragraph of the article, Mellgren says

The Olympics of Cheesemaking

On March 21st through the 23rd, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association will host the 26th biennial World Championship Cheese Contest at the Monona Convention Center in Madison, WI. According to the press release, "dairy manufacturers from more than 20 nations are expected to send more than 1,500" cheeses to the competition, to be judged by an international panel of dairy experts.

Cheeses (and butters) will be judged similarly to olympic sports such as figure skating. Judges will start with a perfect score of 100, and

Now THAT'S What I Call a Reality TV Show

Australia's Cheese Idol Wins Scholarship

A self-taught cheesemaker from Tilba Tilba on the New South Wales south coast has been named Australia's cheese idol.

Erica Dibden started trying out cheese recipes in her kitchen using milk from the family's jersey herd.

She has now won a Dairy Australia scholarship to travel to Europe and is hoping to capture some "cheesemaking magic" from some of the Continent's greatest cheese connoisseurs.

"The cheesemaker is very closed shop, so this scholarship is

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