It’s all about the milk. This simple statement couldn’t ring any more true than at Vermont Creamery where we craft small, soft ripened goats’ milk cheeses, week in and week out. For that reason, we are meticulous about the quality of the milk that we start with. As cheesemakers, we are nothing without the extremely dedicated farmers that work so hard every day to provide us with the best milk. Cheesemaking involves the concentrating of milk - any off flavors or negative characteristics of low-quality milk are only amplified through the process. That’s why we work hard to ensure that we source and use the best quality Vermont milks.
Seasonality refers to the changes that occur to the milk over the course of the year. The milk goats and cows produce varies with the seasons. We choose not to standardize our goats’ milk by adding extra fat or protein to make it more consistent; rather we change our technique throughout the year. In the summer months, when the milk has lower protein and butterfat content, it takes more coagulated milk to make our soft ripened cheeses, especially the Bonne Bouche. In the winter, when the milk has much more fat, it can take rotating the cheesecloth bags full of curd up to 4 times to tease out the proper amount of whey.
Then there is the starter culture – the living organisms that have been cheesemakers best friends for millenia. We use starter culture for a number of reasons, food safety, consistency in the product and to highlight specific flavors, aromas and textures that we want to shine. The most noticeable effect from the starter culture with our soft ripened cheese is that distinct, beautiful, sexy, wrinkled “brainy” rind. This specific strain of starter culture is a yeast-mold combo called Geotrichum Candidum or “geo” for short. Other soft ripened cheeses such as Brie or Camembert use a prominent strain called Penicillium with geo as a background note. We choose to showcase geo as the star in our signature line of soft-ripened cheeses: Bonne Bouche, Coupole, Bijou, Cremont, & Fresh Crottin.
Excuse me while I geek-out, but geo is fun to watch throughout the process of cheesemaking. The geo really awakens in a warm environment and the rind starts to feel slippery. After this happens, it’s time to slow things down a bit and allow the cheese to age for ten to fourteen days. Cream colored spots and stripes will begin to appear against the milky white background of the curd during this time along with amazing aromas of freshly baked bread, bright citrus and Belgium white beer.
As the cheeses develop further, the spots and stripes become more uniform and thicken slightly. That is when you can expect to see the first of the wrinkles. Once the wrinkles have started, it’s kind of like crossing a finish line, though far from finished. We then cool and individually pack the cheeses in special containers that allow for optimal airflow so they can breath. Even after they leave the creamery, they are still alive and continue to age and develop in complexity. This is about the time that we hope you’ll buy the final product and taste the time, thought and hard work that we’ve put into each piece of cheese that we make. Enjoy!