“Cheese, made of milk from an animal that feeds on grass, reminds us every day that it is vital to preserve our environment”
– Herve Mons, third generation French Affineur
Every three weeks during the aging process of our cheese, Rick our Cheese Maker/Affineur/My Dad, tastes the cheese using a tool called the cheese Trier. The Trier is essentially a metal tube with a handle. The Trier allows us to taste the cheese without having to cut a slice out of the entire wheel. It is first inserted into a block of cheese where it will pull out a plug about a ½ inch in diameter. Then part of the cheese plug is squished between fingers to check the moisture content, sniffed to check for unusual or “Barny” smells and finally tasted to see the progression of the cheese and determine if the aging process is complete. Finally what remains of the plug is reinserted into the cheese where it was taken from.
The aging process of cheese is almost as important as the milk it’s made from. Almost fifty percent of the flavor of cheese happens during the aging. There are professional people who age cheese called Affineurs. Some creameries will send their cheeses across the country to be aged by their chosen Affineur. The Affineur is highly skilled and takes great care in developing the cheese by knowing the right humidity and temperature to age the cheese at and, depending on the cheese they may brush, wash, or turn the wheels accordingly. Ok, so Rick may not be a professional Affineur but he’s just as neurotic as one, and in my opinion he’s doing a heck of a job with the aging process.
Last week we checked our aging cheese, although only fifty days old, the cheese is already developing flavors characteristic to cheddar. Because of the Jersey milk we use, the texture of the cheese is incredibly creamy, and almost tasted of butter. It is important to check the cheese at regular intervals because ultimately we will have up to two years invested in this cheese before it’s sold, and it would be a pity to find out last minute we found that it wasn’t up to our standards. So far so good with the aging process and we hope to have some cheese on the market soon!