During this cold and snowy season, I have to say I love my commute. Just a quick 50 paces out the back door and I’m at work. Our creamery is warm (much warmer than our drafty 115-year-old house!), sparkling clean and a cozy work environment.
It’s a good thing we live so close to our cheese parlor. In fact, I don’t know how else we could do it. The cheese needs to be cared for on a very regular basis. Every 12 hours, the wheels must be turned in the brine. On a cheesemaking day, they must be flipped several times after they’ve been hooped.
Cows and cheese — they both demand daily care. As much as I love the cows, I am happy it’s Pete who cares for them every day.  
Yesterday as I was making Gruyere, I was struck by just how much the season affects everything on the farm. Cows, just like people, aren’t nearly as comfortable in the winter. As a result, they produce less milk. That in turn, affects the milk components. The milk tends to be higher in butterfat and protein — essentially it’s more concentrated. This very much affects the cheesemaking process. Every cheesemaker will tell you that they must make adjustments to the cheese make according to the season. And although I understood the principle, it has taken me several years to finesse our cheese recipe to get it just right.
This winter, I’m happy to say, I have finally gotten on top of this seasonal phenomenon. We recently cut into a wheel of Farmhouse Gouda that was made last November, after I adjusted the culture for the fall/winter change. It was delicious.
Like everything else in life, cheesemaking is very nuanced. It can take years of tasting (that’s the fun part) and analyzing very slight changes in the make to arrive at the knowledge that will produce consistently high quality cheese. I happily look forward to years of cheesemaking (and tasting) ahead of me. — JH 

About Pete

My wife and I own and operate Rockhill Creamery, a farmstead cheese business in the beautiful Cache Valley of Northern Utah. We have two children, both married and living in Salt Lake City. We were both newspaper people in our former lives, but decided to head down the agriculture path about 12 years ago.
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One Response to Seasonality

  1. Michelle says:

    I look forward to years of tasting as well! Thanks also for the birthday cake– it’s absolutely delicious!

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