Tillamook Cheese Company's head cheesemaker Dale Baumgartner, has been a dairy man his whole life, and the quality of the cheese shows it. He's gearing up for grilled cheese month, as we all are, and was happy to answer some questions about how cheese fits into his daily life, as well as his sandwiches:
How long have you been making cheese and what did you do before this career?
Before being a cheesemaker, I worked on my dad’s farm where I milked 28 cows both morning and night. I’ve been making cheese for 44 years! I started with the Hebo Cheese Association in Hebo, OR. Hebo was one of 13 small cheese factories that consolidated to be part of the Tillamook County Creamery Association. That was a long time ago though – I’ve been with Tillamook since 1969 and have been the head cheesemaker since 1995.
What are the trickiest things about making cheese?
A new group-feeding device recently installed on a Murcrest Farm in Copenhagen grows stronger, healthier calves that will go on to produce more milk than their mothers. Since the calves can now feed simultaneously, all day long, they are getting an experience similar to nursing straight from their mothers.
With a tape measuring the girth of their bodies, calves are weighed every day to get a benchmark on how fast they’re growing. After about eight weeks in the system, the calves are removed from the pens and stationed with the other cattle in a barn.
Janet Fletcher of the San Francisco Chronicle brings us the story of Sartori-Asiago. Italian immigrants who came to America in the 20th century longed for the cheeses of their homeland, like Asiago and mozzarella. Some of them even tried to recreate the flavors of the Old World. Paolo Sartori ended up in Wisconsin where he created a legacy; his grandchildren now operate Sartori Foods, which produces several cheeses.
The company's Extra-Aged Asiago bears only a faint kinship to the Italian original, but it is an excellent value. Perhaps Paolo's product came closer to the piquant Asiago from his homeland - we'll never know - but his successors have allowed the cheese to evolve in a sweeter direction, in keeping with American taste.
Brittany Devenyi of Maisonneuve magazine brings us one of the most thorough and up-to-date articles on Michael Schmidt, the German immigrant fighting for raw milk legalization in Canada. Recently coming off of a hunger strike, Devenyi interviews a thinner Schmidt in hopes of uncovering why his passion for the raw milk cause is so unwavering.
The southern cheese scene is thriving. And what better way to explore it than pairing southern cheeses with southern whiskies? Kristin Jackson, of "it's not you, it's brie," recently held a pairing class at the Cheese School of San Francisco.
It was great. We ate. We drank. We marveled at the jug of corn whiskey.
Max McCalman of Artisanal Cheese comments on the recent popularity of pairing - cheese and wine, cheese and beer, cheese and whiskey - but regrets that often the cheese is blamed for a poor pairing. There's more science to pairing than we realize.
There are fundamental principles of pairing foods and beverages that can be applied to pairing cheese and wine. When those principles are considered to their fullest, those pairings often yield some “marriages-made-in-heaven,” or perfect pairings. There is a little science to it. One bit of science may be that when the cheese and wine (or other beverage) pair well aesthetically there may be other neurological benefits derived from careful matchmaking, so there may be some nutritional benefits too.
A herd of rare, heritage Shropshire sheep in Ontario will be euthanized by the Canadian Government because a member of the herd, sold to a farm in Alberta in 2007, tested positive for the debilitating animal disease scrapie. The owner of the sheep is furious and frustrated and planning a rally in protest of the decision.
She's urging supporters to come to her farm Monday morning to demonstrate against the cull. About 4,400 people have signed a petition so far. Shropshire sheep are known for their high-quality wool and meat, but animals with a particular set of genes are more susceptible to scrapie than other sheep and goats. It's those animals on Jones's farm that the CFIA is targeting.
The unseasonal heat in the US has resulted in cows being let out to pasture two months earlier than they usually begin to graze, and means a higher milk yield from cows across the nation. On the flip side, the cows are in danger of too much good food:
In Texas the results of the weather are more dangerous. Much-needed rain that has fallen across the northern parts of the state has increased pasture growth for grazing cattle, including an increase in clovers and weeds. Ingesting too much lush vegetation can be fatal to the livestock, causing incidences of bloat and a condition known as grass tetany. Grass tetany occurs when cattle feed on lush plants that throw off the balance of nutrients in the animal, usually in the form of a magnesium deficiency. Ranchers are already reporting cattle deaths because of this overeating, a problem that Baker knows all too well after Pennsylvania's rainy season last year.
Kristy Mucci, Associate Editor at Food52, recently tackled homemade mozzarella, and has brought us her recipe and tips here:
I am by no means a cheesemonger. Before we talked about writing this post, I'd only ever made ricotta. So, being thorough, I decided to make mozzarella enough times to feel comfortable sharing a method. I've been practicing in the FOOD52 kitchen, and in my own kitchen, for months (I like to be really thorough). For a while I thought I could make it happen without rennet, but I tested my theory and know better now. You need rennet. You also need citric acid powder. Luckily, those things are easy to locate. If you can find non-homogenized milk, I suggest you use that -- and please, stick to whole milk. The rest is really easy and fun, and if I can do it, anyone can.
Back in January we heard rumors that cheese advertising aimed at children in Ireland was to be banned, and a new draft code just published by the Irish Broadcasting Authority confirms these predictions. The Irish Times has the story:
The authority is inviting public observations on the draft Children’s Commercial Communications Code over the next two months. Once submissions have been taken into account and a final code written, it will be legislated for and is expected to come into force next January.
Its focus is on how foods high in fat, salt and/or sugar are advertised to children. It has been formulated by an expert group which also took account of submissions made in a first round of consultations last year.