I don’t like February. Every mile seems like two in February.

So to help me get through this month, we are bringing back my favorite spring like cheese: the new and improved Sharon Hollow. This cheese is our biggest seller at the farmer’s markets, and if I close my eyes while eating one, I can almost imagine the warmth of spring. Not really – there’s eight inches of snow on the ground, it’s four below zero and I’m not nearly that imaginative. But at least I’m enjoying the cheese.

The Sharon Hollow is a very fresh, flavored cow’s milk cheese. Cow’s milk is gently pasteurized, then slowly cultured and set over twelve hours. The curd is then ladled into molds with alternating layers of garlic and chopped chives or garlic and fresh cracked telicherry black pepper. The cheese are then drained for six to eight hours, brined for thirty three minutes and allowed to drain overnight. They are then unmolded, topped with either chives or pepper and wrapped in paper. The paper allows the cheese to breathe and slowly expel more moisture.

This cheese is great just on a cracker or for the ambitious as a filling for ravioli.

The other thing that helps me get through the challenges of February is our Chocolate Gelato Month, which you can read all about on the gelato page of our website. The added bonus this year is, for the first time ever, we’re going to be shipping to people all over the country. So beginning February 1st you can go to zingermans.com and check out the selection this month.

Some of the most exciting new cheeses in the country and even the world are coming out of California, and our resident cheesemaker Aubrey recently visited with a number of these west coast dairy alchemists and will be hosting a tasting and description of these great cheeses on February 23rd. Space is limited, so reserve your spot now (734) 929-0500.

Really Fraiche Creme Fraiche. Phoebe has created the best Creme Fraiche I’ve ever tasted. If you’ve ever bought pre-packaged Creme Fraiche, I would suggest that it probably isn’t as fresh as it should be. It’s been packaged, sent to a distributor, then shipped to a store and sold. This can take several weeks and it’s traveled a lot of miles. Phoebe makes ours from fresh Guernsey cream every Wednesday and Saturday, meaning that it’s never more than three days old. It has a very, very rich fresh dairy taste.

Also, you can check out our new recipe Fromage Frais – creamy, fresh and light which we’ve dubbed “I can’t believe it’s not yogurt.”

Creme Fraiche vs. Fromage Frais – One of the most frequently asked questions is “What’s the difference between the two?” Creme Fraiche is 40% butterfat cream which has been cultured for about eighteen hours. It is very thick and rich with a similarity in consistency to clotted or Devonshire cream (for our British friends). Fromage Frais is 4% butterfat milk which has been cultured, set overnight then drained until it achieves the consistency of thick yogurt. It is great on vegetables, granola, fruit, made into a salad dressing, used to deglaze pans for a quick sauce and so on.

What else is coming up? We are currently working on a hard cheese with its origin from a turn of the century (19th-not the 20th or 21st) recipe for Cheshire cheese. Look for this to come out in early summer with a complete explanation of why we went back so far for the recipe.