Did you hear the news last month that apparently a third of primary school children think that cheese comes from plants? My husband wishes
that were true because it sure would make his life a lot easier.
Let us just put the record straight, cheese does not come from plants it is made from milk, and that milk comes from cows, we will talk about how a cow produces milk one day in a separate post but today we want to talk to you a little about that milk stuff.
Milk. Such a simple product. It sits in supermarket shelves in neat little rows, there is no need to surround it in pomp and circumstance to sell it, we all know it’s delicious, we all know its health benefits and we already know that it is so versatile in the kitchen. But what we don’t all know is how much effort goes into making milk fit for cheese (or a king, but in our world cheese comes first!).
Because we produce an artisan cheese that is produced by an artisan cheese maker using traditional ingredients and traditional methods we need to try as hard as we can to make sure our milk is as consistent as possible. There are options, we could add all kinds of stuff to our recipe, but that would go against the grain of our entire existence. So we need to focus on our milk, and boy can we face some challenges.
Firstly, the weather, yes we know farmers are known for complaining about the weather but did you know that when it rains a lot our ladies huddle together under shelter, food being the furthest thing from their mind, and did you know that when it’s really really hot the girlies huddle together in the shade, food being the furthest thing from their mind. Extreme weather does not good milk make.
Secondly, the variations of grasses from field to field. As we all know what goes in has a direct impact on what comes out. I bet if a baby could talk it would tell you if it’s mother had a curry or fruit salad for dinner. The same seed can be put in all the fields however there will still be variations depending on the soil type of a particular field or how long it has been since it was reseeded, for example one field could be full of clover but the next have none. It would be impractical to reseed every acre every year so there needs to be a rotation and this, unfortunately (or fortunately depends on how you view the joy of artisan cheese) leads to inconsistencies in the milk.
Another challenge is of course calving patterns. If we just let the cows do their own thing the milk would be all over the show, managing the herd to ensure a balanced amount of breeding and an even milk profile with a good fat/protein ratio is attained all year round is a full time job. Embarrassing confession coming up here, but before I moved to the country I didn’t even realise that cows needed babies to make milk, I thought they just magically produced it all year round and that was why we all drank cow’s milk, so maybe I shouldn’t be so scathing of the school kids mentioned at the beginning of this article after all.