Introducing – Organic Dutch Belted Cow’s Milk Cheeses!
I’ve been talking a lot about the new milk the Creamery is getting to make our Cheshire and thought I’d write up a quick explanation of what makes it special. I was persuaded to share with all, but this comes with a warning that this comes with a geek warning that it may well be more information than most care for.
The milk comes to us from a farm in Westphalia (northwest of Lansing) owned and operated by Andy Schneider and family. Andy has a herd of Dutch-Belted cows which are extremely rare in the U.S. (there are slightly more than 200) The Dutch Belted cow provides milk that is high in butterfat and protein and the butterfat globules are small which makes it ideal for cheese makers. Originating from the Alps, the Dutch-Belted cows gained great popularity in Scandinavia until finally being introduced in this country.
So while the breed of cow is extremely important to cheese making, it is only part of the story. When I first started to learn about cheesemaking, I had the opportunity to work with a great cheese maker in Wales who taught me the most important lesson I ever learned (he was also quite drunk at the time) but he grabbed me by the collar in a remote pub and said, “making great cheese is easy, get the best quality milk you can, then you try not to screw it up too much.” (I’ve actually edited his comment for family reading). The point is that everything we do other than give it to a calf is bad for the milk. The best cheese makers do the least amount of damage.
Much of the damage comes from the dairy infrastructure that has evolved to provide inexpensive milk. Poor animal health, pumping milk, sloshing around in tankers and environmental conditions have all contributed to the quality difficulties. While not short term economically sound, Andy Schneider follows an entirely different course to produce a milk that is significantly better than the norm. The calves are provided their mother’s milk for ten months or until the mother kicks them off the teat, the Creamery only gets the excess that the calves can’t drink. (This is the distinction of a dairy cow vs meat cattle-the dairy cow produces more milk than the calf can take in) In the interest of economy, dairy farmers usually put the calves on formula and sell all the milk. Giving them the milk that was intended for them creates an extremely healthy herd and allows for cows that the Schneiders milk well into their teens. Healthy cows equal healthier milk.
Andy milks once a day. Again, this adversely impacts the amount of milk the cow yields, but it’s healthier for the animal. Carbon is spread over the fields to assist in filtering out toxins from acid rain. The cows are pastured as long as the fields will support them giving the milk more flavor.
Finally, the milk is transported in ten gallon milk cans which avoids the damage that pumps cause through agitation. (After lifting thirty 120 lb milk cans, I’ve gained an appreciation as to why the pump gained popularity)
We are only able to get milk this milk for another month, then because the calves are biggr and the milk production drops, the calves will get it all. The milk will not be available again until mid June.
The Cheshires from this certified organic milk will be available from December 16 until supplies run out. We are producing about 15 per week so we expect to have the cheese until the end of March.
If you have any questions or would like more information please feel free to contact us anytime!
All the best,