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Archive for June, 2008

Our Own Cheese Trier

Much of the vocabulary of cheesemaking is self explanatory: the place where the cheese stays warm to age? The warm room. The place where cheese stays to cool down? The cool room. The silver T-shaped instrument used to try cheese so it can be graded? A cheese trier.

The cheese trier is one of the few small iconic pieces of modern cheesemaking that evokes an the history of the practice – the cheese trier is non-mechanical or electronic, and it has not changed in shape or function for many many years.

Even though we are not cheesemakers, or cheese graders, we have acquired our own cheese trier. Through some research and leg work, Jim was able to find this silver beauty, which we plan to display prominently and occasionally use to core a nice wheel of cheddar.

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Tasting Notes: Juusto

We have mentioned Juusto before – the dense and slightly squeaky baked cheese from Finland. The full name is juustolepia, which means “bread cheese” and it has become quite prevalent in markets in the last several months, though some folks (like Scott Erickson from Bass lake or Tom Torkelson from Pasture Pride) have be making it for years.

There are two schools on Juusto. One is a very traditional take on Justolepia – the cheese is mild and almost sweet, it has a soft and springy texture, almost like a squished marshmellow. This is the traditional Finnish cheese – you can put a square at the bottom of your coffee cup and enjoy the miky flavor and finally the melted cheese as you drink your breakfast cuppa.

The other school of Justo takes a more American approach – making a saltier, slightly firmer cheese with an eye towards making it to the snack table where the more savory flavors prevail. This style of Juusto (rarely called Justolepia – which should help aid in differentiating the two) is exemplified by the cheese made by Tom Torkelson at Pasture Pride

This Juusto has a nice firm texture and a not-too-salty flavor. The cheese, even when warmed, has a pleasing squeak to it as you chew it, and the browned exterior also shares some flavor. If you are familiar with having fresh cheddar curds (or “squeakers”), you will recognize this texture. The flavor is mild but savory, though the Juusto doesn’t have the acidic flavor of cheddar. It is easy to use this cheese as a light snack, or appetizer with friends or for game day parties. You don’t need any crackers, just warm it up (because it is baked, it will not melt, even on the grill or in the microwave), cut into cubes and serve with a toothpick.

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In my capacity as a food columnist for City Pages (the leading alt weekly of Minneapolis-St. Paul), I have the opportunity to fish around pretty freely for topics. So this week, in advance of a wine tasting at Bass Lake Cheese, I wrote a brief profile of master cheesemaker Scott Erickson.

Even better, the paper ran an online slideshow of Becca’s photos from Bass Lake.

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