About Our Dairy
The first step in making “farmstead” cheese (which means cheese made from the milk of one’s own animals) is, of course, to milk them, which we do twice a day using a pipeline milking system. The milk flows from the goats (who are busy happily eating grain) to a refrigerated bulk tank where it is stored until we are ready to pasteurize.
At that time the milk is pumped to the three pasteurizers in the cheeseroom. These are vat pasteurizers that allow us to heat the milk to a lower temperature than used by larger commercial dairies. This is “kinder” to the fresh and fragile goat's milk, preserves more of the enzymes essential to the cheese flavor, yet still produces a safe product.
After the heating and cooling process, we add special cultures imported from France and vegetable rennet, which will cause the milk to separate into curds and whey (of Miss Muffet fame).
The milk will then sit until the following morning at which time it will have become more acidic (essential for both safety and flavor) and will have separated into curds and whey. We then hand scoop the curd into either cheesecloth or various forms, depending on what we want to make, and allow it to drain overnight.
The following day the curd is removed from the cheesecloth and mixed with salt and herbs, or unmolded from the forms, salted and allowed to drain and dry a bit more to produce a slightly firm shaped cheese.
The bloomy-rind cheeses receive some additional special cultures and rennet and are hand-scooped into forms where they drain for two days before being unmolded and salted. They will dry for a day or so before being moved to our temperature- and humidity-controlled cave to age for 10 days to 2 weeks until they are ready for consumption. “Bloomy-rind” refers to the characteristic white mold that forms (or blooms) on the outsides of the cheeses.
The flavors and textures of these cheeses depends a lot on the size and shape of the cheese. Thinner cheeses with more relative surface area will ripen faster and become more runny and strong flavored than relatively blocky cheeses or those treated with vegetable ash, which has no flavor, but neutralizes some of the acidity and produces a firmer, creamy, mild mushroomy-flavored cheese.
In any case, all parts of these cheeses are edible, including the rind, and should be brought to room temperature before serving to fully allow the flavors to express themselves.
First step in the cheesemaking process: milking the goats.
Scooping curd from the cheese vat.
Different kinds of cheese draining after scooping, some hanging in cheese cloth, others in molds
Flipping Bloomy Rind cheeses.
Packaging feta cheese with help from granddaughter.
Some of the varieties of Bloomy Rind Cheese made at Sunset Acres Farm. Read more about our cheese.