About Our Artisan Cheeses

Aged Cheddar

Cheese is cheese, right?

Absolutely not. Take cheddar for example, which by the way, is the world’s most favorite cheese... that and Swiss. If you receive our most favorite cheddar in one of your monthly shipments, it will be made by hand on a farm in England. The cheesemaker has a small herd...about 45 cows, and he and his family know each one by name! He makes about 12 cheeses each day. His cheese is clothbound (wrapped in traditional cheese cloth) and matured, for a minimum of 12 months, in a cellar that has a controlled temperature and humidity.

Compare that to industrial cheddar, made in a factory that produces tons of cheddar in big vats each day. Then it’s sealed in plastic, and put in a very cold refrigerator... that’s why it’s rubbery. And if it’s been in plastic for a long time, it tastes bitter. Sort of like comparing... well, you just can’t really compare the two.

We’ve participated in a number of cheese appreciation classes in which we taste farmhouse and industrial cheeses side by side. And when folks have the opportunity to taste like this, the differences are remarkable, obvious, and enlightening to even the most untrained palates. Try it.

Cheesemaking is a primal process, dating back thousands of years. And even with current industrial technology, the process of cheesemaking is still a complicated one, combining science with art, and crafting skills.

Artisanal cheeses need to breathe

Cheese is really alive, and it likes to breathe while it ripens... which, by the way lasts right up until you eat it. If you wrap it in plastic it suffocates. Cheese is constantly losing moisture as it ages, so when it’s sealed in plastic that moisture, or more technically correct, "whey", has nowhere to go but back into the cheese. Although that sounds like a great idea, whey tends to have quite a bitter flavor. When that bitterness goes back into the cheese, it produces "off" flavors.

Traditional cheese needs to breathe as it is aged and matured. While it breathes, its flavor is enhanced and specific textures develop. The cheese loses moisture but intensifies in flavor, in just the same way you make a great soup stock. In fact, huge blocks and wheels, many over 200 lbs., must be constantly turned and whipped so that the moisture content remains even throughout the cheese.

How our packaging preserves our featured cheeses’ integrity

When we wrap cheese, we use 3 pieces: a clear quick sheet, a more opaque slow sheet, and then the actual cheese paper. Once a whole cheese (a block or wheel) is cut, it will lose more moisture, so the special paper allows the cheese to breathe while it’s traveling and the moisture to evaporate properly.

We don’t use a plastic wrap because...

Many companies use plastic because it’s easier; they don’t need to pay anyone to take care of the cheese until it’s cut and sold. In fact, a lot of the time it is cut and wrapped in plastic in its country of origin. Then those pieces of cheese are packed into cases, put in a near freezing container and shipped to America. And of course that badly affects the texture and the natural ripening process, since freezing breaks down the cheese’s cell structure.

Another "advantage" of plastic is that no one loses any money because the cheese stays the same weight from the day it is wrapped in plastic to the day it arrives at a retailer. By now, it’s probably clear to you that most of the advantages of wrapping in plastic aren’t considerate to the overall freshness and actual taste of your cheese.

I stand by every cheese we feature and know you’ll be impressed with the quality delivered in each shipment.

Kathleen Calef,
Director of Product Development

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