We’d like to introduce you to Cobb Hill, a co-housing community within the larger community of Hartland, Vermont. The co-housing community is comprised of like-minded folks who aim to live in a socially and ecologically responsible manner – farming and working the land.
The Cobb Hill Cheese team are the makers behind one of our favorite domestic cheeses: Ascutney Mountain. They source milk from another member of their community – Cedar Mountain Farm, a dairy where cows eat only organic grains and grasses. Over the years, the cheesemaking operation has become an integral part of the economic viability of the co-housing community and we are pleased to have worked with them from the very beginning.
Ascutney Mountain found its origins with Gail Holmes and Marsha Carmichael. Gail and Marsha began as dairy farmers but found that milk production was not sufficiently profitable to support the farm so they began exploring cheesemaking. They trained with master cheesemaker Peter Dixon and made cheese at Woodcock Farm in Weston, VT. Their own cheese making facility was completed in 2000 and Cobb Hill Cheese was born. Gail and Marsha have since passed on the reins to three women: Sophie Starr, Bonnie Hill and Jeannine Kilbride.
Ascutney Mountain is a marvelous cheese that was developed from a recipe for Swiss Appenzeller. It is aged 7-8 months and is made with raw Jersey cow milk and vegetable rennet. Jersey milk typically has a 4-6% fat content as opposed to the more commonly available Holstein milk – ringing in at roughly 3-3.5%. This rich milk yields a cheese that is at once savory, milky, nutty and toothsome. Each wheel weighs approximately 7-9 pounds and has a gorgeous yellow paste and a mottled beige and white natural rind. This cheese has won several awards – among them, “Best in Show” at the Big E in 2008 and 2010, as well as “Best Farmstead Cow’s Milk Cheese” at the American Cheese Society awards in 2005.
Ascutney Mountain is named after a local, highly recognizable physical landmark – it’s a mountain our cheesemongers pass by every time we visit the Cobb Hill team – a welcome and beautiful sight that reminds us of the delicious cheese that bears its name!