A cheesemaking operation is one of several family-run ventures that together comprise Dunrago, Colorado-based James Ranch. It’s led by Dan and Becca James, a couple who met while studying at the University of Washington and then visited cheesemakers in New Zealand and Europe for inspiration before returning to Dan’s childhood home, where they’ve created a 100% grassfed dairy producing milk from Jersey cows.
The James’ operation differs from conventional dairies in several ways. Cows are milked seasonally—given a break in the wintertime—and only once per day. They are never fed grain, only diverse grasses from the ranch’s 400 acres of pasture, around which they move three times per day to encourage healthy forage growth.
Modeled after a traditional Dutch cheese studded with whole cumin seeds, wheels of Leyden are aged anywhere from six months to a year.
Leyden’s craggy, orange paste dotted with seeds is all curry and light cumin on the nose—like walking into a store selling Indian spices. Cumin hits the front of the palate; it’s peppery with a sweet, citrusy, grassy finish.
Wedge a slice of Leyden into a rye-bread-and-ham sandwich, melt it into a Mexican dish, or serve it alongside some aquavit.