Soon after its release, Calderwood made its name as the new kid on the block with a second place Best of Show at the American Cheese Society Judging & Competition in 2018. The most recent creation of Jasper Hill Farm, this Alpine-style cheese is coated with hay, which lends it a multifaceted flavor profile ranging from honey to pineapple.
Located in the beautiful rolling countryside of the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont, Jasper Hill Farm was launched by brothers Andy and Mateo Kehler in 1998. After five years of hard work, Andy and Mateo acquired their first 15 Ayrshire heifers. Thanks to careful management and focus on building excellent genetics, they now have one of the highest quality milking herds in the United States. The herd grazes from late spring to early fall, and over successive years, the grazing land at Jasper Hill has been improved by planting a wide variety of clovers, grasses, and legumes to enhance the flavor of the milk. The brothers have also developed another arm of the business, The Cellars at Jasper Hill, which comprise 22,000 square feet of cheese maturing caves, were designed and built not only to house Jasper Hill's own cheeses but also to mature the cheeses of other Vermont producers.
More recently, the Kehlers teamed up with German company AgriCompact Technologies to produce a hay drying facility: The Randi Albert Calderwood Cropping Center is the first of its kind in the United States. The brothers were inspired by their observation of a hay dryer in action in Parma Italy, a region whose cheese calls for grass-fed milk, but whose climate is a bit too rainy for making consistent dry hay. Once they brought that technology stateside, they were able to apply the complexity of hay to their newest cheese: Calderwood.
The idea for this unique cheese came from attempting to press toasted and shredded hay (the same hay that the cattle eat) into the rind of Alpha Tolman, a cheese that Jasper Hill has been producing for years. Calderwood wheels are washed with brine for six months in the cellars before being coated in hay and sealed in cryovac. After an additional four months of aging, the cryovac is removed and the cheeses are left to dry and form a natural rind in the cellars.
The interior of the cheese is firm, nutty and complex, with hints of earth, caramel, chestnut honey, and tropical fruit, especially pineapple.
With such a multifaceted flavor profile, Calderwood should serve as a focal point on your cheese plate. Pair it with onion jam, mostarda, or salami. Since it melts extremely well, you could also try it in an unconventional grilled cheese.
Photo by Kristine Jannuzzi