Even in the context of American innovation, it's unusual for a family that founded a highly successful washing machine company to also pioneer a legendary cheesemaking facility—but that's precisely what the Maytag family achieved in the space of one hundred years.
Frederick Maytag, a son of German immigrants, settled in Iowa in the 1860s and, after successfully establishing a farm implement company, designed a washing machine that would eventually catapult the company to fame and fortune. Frederick’s son Elmer was an entirely different character, finding more satisfaction in establishing a herd of award winning Holstein-Friesian cows. Elmer’s son, Frederick II, inherited both the farm and his grandfather’s business acumen, establishing Maytag cheese production in 1941.
Cow’s milk for production is sourced from the farm’s own herd. It's heated, cultures and rennet are added and, after the curd has formed, cut into cubes in the vat. The whey is then drained off and the remaining curds are mixed with a blue mold powder before being scooped into hoops and pressed. After unmolding, the young cheeses are soaked in a brine solution for several hours before being transferred to the caves—which are dug into a hillside behind the cheesemaking room—for further aging.
During a four- to six-month aging process, wheels are pierced to allow air into the interior. The enzymes and bacteria react with the air, allowing for the development of blue veins throughout the cheese. Prior to sale and shipping, each wheel is hand-scraped to remove any surface mold before being wrapped in silver foil.
The texture of Maytag Blue is firm, moist and slightly crumbly with an ivory colored paste shot through with sapphire colored blue veins. Flavors are rich and cream-like, with an assertive salty note and a savory finish.
Drizzle your Maytag Blue with honey or sip a barleywine-style ale alongside it.