June is National Dairy Month and since Wisconsin has 1.26 million cows, we celebrate dairy month better than anyone! Here are 8 fun ways to celebrate dairy!
Wisconsin cheesemakers have been hard at work in America’s Dairyland for over 160 years, so there are more than a few fun facts and stories about how they make their cheese. Here are five of my favorites!
1. Holland’s Family Cheese – The cheesemakers at Holland’s Family Cheese insist that their cows sleep on soft bedding and get cooled off with fans in the summer. The more pampered the cow, the better the cheese! They must be on to something because 6-9 month aged gouda from Holland’s Family Cheese won Grand Champion at the 2013 World Championship Cheese Contest.
2. Cedar Grove Cheese- Cedar Grove takes special care to ensure that the cheesemaking process doesn’t harm the environment, so they created what they call a “Living Machine”. It’s a greenhouse that uses microbes and plants to cleanse the water used in cheesemaking so it can be safely released back into the ecosystem.
3. Carr Valley Cheese– Master Cheesemaker Sid Cook comes up with new cheese creations for Carr Valley Cheese. On busy work days he sometimes puts a chocolate bar on his Swiss cheese sandwich. This crazy lunch inspired him to create Cocoa Cardona cheese– a creamy white cheese dusted with cocoa powder.
4. Babcock Hall Dairy- The Babcock Hall Dairy plant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was built in 1951, which makes it the oldest university dairy building in the United States.
5. Hook’s Cheese – When you think of cheese, you probably don’t think of romance, unless you are Tony and Julie Hook of Hook’s Cheese Company. They were college sweethearts and have been making world famous aged cheddar together since 1976.
You can shop for all of the gourmet cheeses mentioned here online at Wisconsinmade.com. Some of them aren’t available for shipping during the summer months, but with so many cheeses and cheese assortments to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect cheese gift.
According to a recent article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin dairy industry is working to raise around $16 million to renovate Babcock Hall Dairy.
Why Babock Hall? Then and Now
Babcock Hall at The Universtiy of Wisconsin-Madison is home to the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research and the Food Science Department. The hall was named after Stephen Babcock who developed a milk fat test that is still used today to test the quality of milk to determine which batches are best for cheesemaking.
The significance of Babcock Hall to Wisconsin is not just historical, the cheesemakers trained at Babcock Hall serve as cheese doctors on call. Cheesemakers around the state can contact a Babcock Hall cheeesemaker if they are having a problem with their cheese, and the “cheese doc” will diagnose it and recommend a course of action. The advice of the cheese docs has even been sought out by big corporations like Dominos and McDonalds. Proving when you need a cheese expert, Wisconsin is the place to be.
Keeping Up With the Cheesemakers
The problem is, you can have the best doctor in the world but if his office is in a run down shack you might think twice about his qualifications. That’s what’s happening at Babcock Hall, the dilapidated 60 year old dairy plant does not reflect the expertise of the cheesemakers trained there. Plus, the latest cheesemaking techniques need the latest cheesemaking equipment, which Babcock Hall sorely needs. In the light of recent upgrades to dairy plants at universities in New York and South Dakota, Wisconsin needs to update the plant to maintain our state’s tradition of cheese excellence. Considering the Wisconsin cheese is a $27 billion a year industry that employs 146,000, money spent on Babcock Hall improvements is money well spent.
Want to try some cheese and ice cream tasty enough to wear the Babcock Hall logo? Visit Wisconsinmade.com to have it shipped to your door anywhere in the continental USA. (Note: Cheese is not available for shipping during summer months.)
Just when you thought Wisconsin couldn’t get any cheesier an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal announces plans for three new cheese plants in the dairy state, including expansions for Wisconsinmade.com artisan cheesemakers Emmi Roth Kase and Holland’s Family Cheese.
In 1991 Ulrich Roth, Felix Roth and Fermo Jaeckle came to the cheesemaking lands of Wisconsin from Switzerland and started Roth Kase USA. In the short time they have been making cheese in Wisconsin, they have won over 100 awards for their gourmet cheeses. Some notable varieties include buttermilk blue, Grand Cru Gruyere and GranQueso.
The company is now known as Emmi-Roth Kase, and recently out grew their Monroe plant. They are opening a new location in Platteville, Wisconsin. The city even agreed to give the company a $2 million grant in anticipation of the economic benefit the cheesemaker will bring to the town.
Holland’s Family Cheese focuses on dutch cheese and manufactures many varieties of gouda, including a few that won prizes at the World Championship Cheese Contest this year in Madison. The family migrated from the Netherlands in 2002. They skillfully combine Wisconsin milk with authentic ingredients and supplies from Holland for the perfect Old World gouda.
The new plant will also be in the town of Thorp, Wisconsin but the Pennterman Family plans on breaking ground on a three times larger facility in 2013. You can see details of the plans on their project update blog, which even mentions the possibility of the cheesemakers expanding their offerings to include ice cream (yum!).
I have put together 100 Wisconsin food facts, which is certainly the most epic blog post ever to be published on Edible Antics and maybe the most epic food blog post to be published on a Wisconsin food blog ever. All of these facts are accurate to the best of my knowledge and my sources are listed at the bottom of the post. If you believe any of the facts are inaccurate, or you would like to add your own Wisconsin food facts, please leave comments, I’d love to hear from you.
Juusto is a versatile cheese that cheeselovers enjoy as a snack, an appetizer, and even for breakfast. Juusto originated in Finland, but cheesemakers in Wisconsin -the land of all foods awesome and cheesy- make an excellent Juusto as well. Cheesemakers pre-bake slice-like slabs of cheese in an oven until they develop a golden brown color. The sliced shape earned Juusto the nickname bread cheese.
Pasture Pride Dairy in Chaston, Wisconsin produces several flavors of bread cheese including Jalapeno, Chipotle, and Italian. The diary also makes a Juusto variety with goat’s milk which they call – get ready!- Guusto. Whether the milk is from a goat or a cow, you can be sure that your Juusto is made with the best quality milk available. Amish farmers supply Pasture Pride with the finest milk- cow’s milk contains no BGH, and the milk is shipped to the dairy daily for the freshest possible cheese. How do you eat Juusto? Well…I’ll save that for another blog post, but let’s just say, you don’t want to eat this cheese cold. Juusto is made to be warmed until melted and delicious. Check back soon for a post with tips on how to best enjoy Juusto.