If, as Clifton Fadiman once said, “cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality”, then rennet could be considered the springboard of cheesemaking.
This past summer, I had the opportunity to assist with cheesemaking at Jasper Hill Farm. One of my favorite cheeses made by the team in Greensboro, VT is called Harbison, a fairly recent addition to the line-up but no less spectacular than their other cheeses.
Last year, I visited the Cellars at Jasper Hill and had the opportunity to participate in the Winnimere cheesemaking process. It was a very educational experience as there are some interesting new developments going on at Jasper Hill.
On a recent trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to visit a co-op that makes Parmigiano Reggiano. It was a first for me – I have witnessed the cheesemaking process before and have even tried my hand at making chèvre but I have never before observed the making of a hard, aged cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano. A small group of farmers in the area bring milk to the co-operative each week and, starting at 5am every day, that milk begins a process that transforms it into a cheese so many of us know and love. Parmigiano Reggiano is a DOP product. In Italian, DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin).
Some weeks ago, I made an immensely informative and inspiring trip to Jasper Hill Farm and The Cellars at Jasper Hill in Greensboro, Vermont. The Jasper Hill enterprise was started by two brothers, Andy and Mateo Kehler. The determination that they have towards revolutionizing and solidifying the cheese-making industry in their state and in this country is unmatched in its political, scientific, and pastoral fervor.
Having seen their tommes progress from curds into molds and finally to the cave, we sat around the Burgat’s kitchen table, drank some wine, chatted and sampled a wheel of their cheese with some bread. A pretty perfect evening in my book.
On a recent trip to Jasper Hill Farm, I had the distinct pleasure not only of tasting many delicious cheeses made and aged here in New England, but also of getting acquainted with some inhabitants of the farm who happen to be just as fond of dairy products — or by-products as the case may be — as I am.