Cheddar (Shelburne Smoked)
Located in a stunning position on the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont, Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit education center for sustainability, a 1,400-acre working farm, and National Historic Landmark. It was established in 1886 as the model agricultural estate of William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb. In 1972, family descendants formed an independent nonprofit organization with the dream of using the farm’s resources to inspire stewardship.
Today, school field trips, summer camps, workshops and many other programs allow children, educators and families to learn in this place of natural and architectural beauty. A membership-supported organization, Shelburne Farms also maintains a Brown Swiss dairy herd, a cheese-making facility, and a seasonal inn to help support and enrich its education work. The farm’s land use integrates education, agriculture, forestry, and historic preservation with tourism, a few private residences, and community and cultural activities.
Under the guidance of Nat Bacon, the cheesemaking operation produces cheddar using raw milk from their own herd of Brown Swiss cows, made in the traditional style, but using modern equipment and old fashioned techniques. The majority of the cheddar is produced in 40 pound blocks and aged on site for either one or two years. It is hand cut into smaller blocks (half pound and one pound), then dipped in brown wax or sealed in cryovac for retail sale. Occasionally, Shelburne also produces a cloth-wrapped cheese made in the style of a traditional 50 pound English cheddar. These are generally only sold on-site via the farm store or via Mail Order.
Some cheeses are also selected for smoking which takes place at New Skete Monastery in New York state. These cheeses are set aside at an age of between 6-9 months so that the smoky flavor doesn’t compete too much with the sharpness of an older cheddar. At this age, the cheeses have a naturally creamy, buttery, sweet flavor that pairs well with the smoke. After the smoking process, cheeses may be aged for a further 3-6 months before release. The cheese has fairly prominent aromas of smoke, reminiscent of a campfire, that balance out to a light, sweet maple syrup flavor and a firm, smooth texture.