Below are the licensed cheese makers in Maine as published by the Department of Agriculture
There are 71 Processed Dairy Facilities as of June 2013
Read the rest of this entry »
Following is a Cheddar Cheese recipe that will end at the curd stage. It is adapted from Kathy Biss’s book Practical Cheesemaking published by Crowood Press in 2002 by way of Cannington College in cheddar’s heartland: Somerset County, England.
Please be prepared to bring at least TWO batches of cheese curds to the Holiday Party: one flavored, and one plain. If you would like to bring additional flavors, please go right ahead.
Cheese curds are quite perishable in nature — they lose their “squeak” in just a few days time. Ideally this will be a Friday or Saturday batch before the Sunday party, but you will have to fit it into your schedule, obviously.
A portion of the curds will be used to prepare POUTINE for the party as well — after a tasting has been held and winners in the CLASSIC CURDS (plain) and the CRAZY CURDS (flavored) have been announced, so be prepared for things to get messy.
Curds that will be meant to be sold should be made from heat-treated or pasteurized milk. We will welcome, however, raw milk curds. Please label the milks (and treatment) so that we can compare the flavors of each!
Inoculate your raw or heat-treated milk at a temperature of 85degF with an MA culture (a mix of ssp. lactis and ssp. cremoris) at a rate of 5 DCU per 100 lbs. of milk.
Ripen for 1 hour (freeze dried culture) or 45 minutes (bulk wet culture).
Rennet with 9ml SINGLE STRENGTH per 100 gallons milk mixed in 5 to 6 times the water.
When the curd “splits cleanly” cut immediately into “wheat grain to small pea size” pieces.
Scald the curd by gently increasing the temp 2degF every 6 minutes reaching 102 – 104degF after 60 minutes.
Stir with the heat OFF after scalding another 45 to 60 minutes, allowing the temp to slowly drop. When the curds feel “shotty” — they bounce of the hand in the vat, and spring back when squeezed — let them settle for 10 minutes then carefully draw off the whey.
Cheddar by forming the curds into cakes, allow them to drain for 15 minutes, then cut the cakes and pile them to “press themselves” to release more whey while keeping warm. Repeat this cut and pile every 15 minutes in the vat (removing the drained whey if it doesn’t naturally leave the vat) until the HOT IRON TEST results in a 1.5 inch stretch.
To perform the Hot Iron Test, take a steel bar (steel skewer? clean fireplace poker?), heat it close to red in a flame, allow it to cool to black, then apply it to the back of a sample curd. When the curd has “cooked on” to the bar, pull it back to see how far the cheese strands will stretch. If they reach 1.5 inches or more, the curd is sufficiently acid to mill and salt.
(If you don’t have the Hot Iron technology, you may instead measure whey acidity to .75TA or pH 5.3 before milling.)
Mill curd cakes into rectangles *roughly* 1cm X 2cm X 4cm.
Salt at a rate of 2% (by weight of curds).
Allow the salt to be absorbed before flavoring your curds.
Our next meeting will be our Holiday Party held on a new day — SUNDAY — December 15th from Noon to 4pm at 3 Level Farm in South China (directions to come). Please consider attending for a merry potluck, including (hopefully!) a vast spread of Christmas Curds to taste…including some of yours!
DIRECTIONS to 3 Level Farm:
From the south, Portland way, take 95 or 295 north (295 blends with 95 just south of Augusta) to the third Augusta exit, Exit 113, and head toward Belfast. About 10 miles east Rt 32 heads north (a left turn). 7/10 miles up Rt 32, as you reach the crest of the climb from Rt 3, 3 Level Farm will be on your right. We have plenty of off street parking.
From the east, Belfast way, take Rt 3 west until Rt 32 north takes off on your right. 7/10 mile up the grade and you are there.
From the north, Bangor way, you will probably take 95 south. Get off at the second Waterville exit, Rt 137, and follow it east through town until at a traffic light it takes a sharp right and shortly there after crosses the Kennebec River. Take it to the second traffic light after crossing the river which is Rt 32. Turn right and follow Rt. 32 south just about 10 miles. The farm will be on your left.
If you need to call for any reason, 445-FARM (3276).
I look forward to heralding and toasting good tidings with you all as we begin a journey into a new year…
President, Maine Cheese Guild
On November 11th we held our Annual Meeting at the State of Maine Cheese Co. facility on Route 1 in Rockport.
Caitlin Hunter (Appleton Creamery) and Heather Donahue (Balfour Farm) were both re-elected to a seat on the Guild Board. Caitlin stepped down from her duties of Secretary of the organization, and Heather was nominated and then voted to replace Caitlin as Secretary.
We reviewed the State of the Guild, including its finances, and we made plans for the upcoming year in many areas: new workshops planned for the Spring (advanced workshops, as well as others focused on beginners and those interested in getting licensed to sell cheese), web site improvements, changes to the delivery of our newsletter, possible legislative action, the formation of an Events Committee, fundraising ideas, and many other things. We ALSO got to taste a lot of cheeses that were brought in for feedback!
It was a long meeting, but VERY productive. Thanks to everyone who attended.
MOFGA will sponsor a “Listening Session” with FDA representatives at the Augusta Armory on
August 19th between 9:30am and 12:30pm
This is the only session scheduled in Maine and one of only three in New England. This is an important opportunity for growers to communicate directly with FDA on the proposed rules.
The FDA has extended the public comment period, so those who cannot make the listening session can submit comments by Nov. 13, 2013.
Dave Colson, MOFGA’s Ag Services Director has put together a summary of the talking points that MOFGA has generated after reviewing the proposed rules that might be helpful.
MESAS (Maine Sustainable Ag Society) is sponsoring an event on Sheep Dairy Herd Health that is free and open to the public (NO pre-registration required) on
Saturday, August 17th from 2:00pm to 4:30pm at
Northern Exposure Farm
18 Country Lane, Dedham, ME
There will be a tour of their livestock and milking facility, as well as a discussion of the farm’s approach to biosecurity, disease management, and identifying healthy foundation stock.
For questions, contact Dick Brzozowski: firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-781-6099
Our meeting on Monday, August 12th at Winter Hill Farm in Freeport took place on a glorious summer day that many Guild members were making more productive use of elsewhere. We focused the information sharing portion of our meeting on Pest Control, but there were lots of other items on the agenda such as an ACS wrap-up with Eric and Jean, upcoming events hoping to feature that Maine cheese that is suddenly in the news, and upcoming workshop ideas.
Possible Workshop Ideas for this fall/winter:
- Inside Competition Judging with John Greeley
- Setting Up a Small Dairy Business or a similar talk by Gianaclis Caldwell
- A talk by Heather Paxon, author of “The Life of Cheese“
- Green Dairy Practices by the Keller brothers of Jasper Hill Creamery
Please comment here to add your ideas, or second any of these. We will have a discussion on ideas to move forward with at our October meeting.
Monona Terrace Conference Center
The conference began on a spectacular day on the shores of Lake Monona in the beautifully restored Frank Lloyd Wright Monona Terrace Conference Center with breakfast (including a full plate of Vermont cheeses to sample on each table), and the Keynote speech by Odessa Piper who ran L’Etoile, a farm-to-table restaurant before anyone knew what that meant.
While I enjoyed some Vermont Butter and Cheese Co. cultured butter on a croissant, there were two other Guild members happily refilling the cracker baskets on our tables.
Read the rest of this entry »
One of cheese’s ancient partners is having a difficult time in the Motherland: France.
The following is from a story written for the Monroe, Maine town archives describing the Monroe Cheese Factory, which operated for at least 50 years in the center of Monroe, near the falls, until 1936. It includes a description of a very particular product — Skipper Cheese — that they specialized in “before the days of food laws.”
You may remember the “Good Old Days” when you could walk into any grocery store around [Maine] and order a slab of Monroe cheese.
Though the age of automation has brought to humanity untold comfort and pleasure, the days of horses and hard hand work had their compensations. Monroe cheese was one of them.
Lie the nine mills that once flanked Monroe Stream, the cheese factory was of an era that saw Monroe become a prosperous center of activity. It was the age when peopled worked from dawn to dusk, wood was sawed by hand, and a farmer milked by hand and drove the milk by horse team to market.
Read the rest of this entry »