August 10, 2014
Benton, Sue, and their kids are staying with us. We stayed up late last night, lingering over bbq chicken and veggies and talking cheese. We also looked at a bunch of photos of our cheese aging in the Crown Finish Caves. The cheeses certainly look happy there. Rachel and I are planning to go to Brooklyn to visit at the end of the month.
We were up relatively early this morning to make the milk run. Benton came along for the ride. It is a beautiful summer day, a bit hazy and warm but very comfortable nonetheless. Pete Stickney showed up and Benton, the affineur, got to meet Pete, the farmer who manages the start of the whole process that ends up with cheese going to the caves. When we got to the cheese house one of the Vermont Shepherd guard dogs was hanging around. "Shouldn't you be guarding the sheep?" I asked.
The dogs response was noncommittal. I popped the hatch of the hauling tank in order to rinse it out and I caught a gentle whiff of sweet summer milk. This is one of the more pleasant moments of the day. There was still a bit of milk sticking to the inside walls of the tank. Cool air. As I rinsed that off to prepare the tank for the cleaninplace milk water runs out the valve and down the delivery hose into the sink in the cheese house. Now the milk is in the cheese vat heating up. Soon we'll add the starter culture. Another day is underway at the cheese house. We are making Provolone today and we should be stretching the curd by 3:30 pm. Benton, Sue, and Nora will be over to take part in the process.
We are halfway through our cheesemaking season, which we started on May 15th. We've made about sixty batches totaling 12,000 pounds. All of this cheese is being aged in the cheese cave on Westminster West Road that we rent from Emily's dad or in the Crown Finish Caves. Every other week we assemble 1,000 pounds of cheese in totes lined with FDAapproved plastic liners. We take the totes up to Green Mountain Orchards and build a pallet. which is picked up at by a Vermont-based, produce transport company and delivered to the caves in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
The red clover in the surrounding pastures is reaching maturity and the milk is very sweet. The first batch of Humble Herdsman cheese that we made in May is ready for sale. Soon there will be a revolving door through our cave with an aged batch going to market in the same week as a new batch comes in.