We are very excited to start 2017! A lot has been going on at the Lamp Post since our last newsletter. After a two months long wait, our official first batch of cheese is now ready to make its debut. Our Haya cheese is now being packaged for our early adopters of ‘Friends of the Post’ and ‘Months of Cheese’ subscriptions. Opportunities to purchase from our website will soon follow. We are so thankful to those supporters who pre ordered subscriptions and gift cards. If you don’t have one yet, you can get regular and early access to our cheese by subscription options sold at our ONLINE STORE.
Our Haya cheese will be available at Dirt: A Modern Market in Over-the-Rhine. For those of you interested in other offerings, both our Toby and Apollo cheeses are looking good and will be available early February. We will keep you updated on our cheese journey as we continue to launch new offerings.
We also want to announce our inaugural event supported by our Friends and fellow artisan crafters The Skeleton Root Wine Makers. Skeleton Root is a working winery housed in a historic warehouse in the northern part of Over the Rhine. Their wines are inspired by the deep heritage of the region, paying homage to the roots that were once there. The event will take place at their winery where Lamp Post will be offering cheeses that we have collaboratively paired with Skeleton Root wines. This will be a great opportunity to enjoy some fine wine and cheese, not to mention supporting two growing local artisan businesses! The event will take place the Saturday before valentine's day, February 11, so bring your loved one or all your friends to celebrate this great milestone.
We are organizing events to launch our products so you can come and taste them as well as some cheese making (and tasting) classes. Stay tuned on our social media and newsletter for news of our events.
You may also be wondering why we are so insistent on aging before we have all these events and samplings. Aging is one of the most important steps in cheesemaking. This period of maturation under controlled conditions is when the cheese acquires the texture, flavor and appearance wanted.
Cheese is basically spoiled milk under control. The first step of cheese making is adding bacteria to the milk (we will talk more about that in a future blog entry). Bacteria transform the sugar (lactose) present in the milk into lactic acid. During aging, the bacteria is killed by the acid accumulated in the cheese. The dead cells open up and release enzymes. These enzymes then break down fats and proteins and release various volatile compounds essential to creating aroma, flavor and texture.
This process, the death of bacteria, is also the reason why, in the US, cheeses made from raw milk, like ours have to age a minimum of 60 days before being sold. Evidence shows that potential pathogens die after 60 days.
The aging process also renders the fats in cheese more digestible and less likely to coat our arteries. Maturing cheeses are also subject to dehydration, losing anywhere from 5 to 20% of their weight. Dehydration helps with the preservation of the cheese and it also concentrates the cheese’s flavor.
Part of the cheesemaker’s job is to find balance during aging. It’s not just a matter of leaving the cheeses in a cooler. Cheese ripening is an art and a science that demands careful attention. Conditions in the ripening area must be kept constant and controlled, with relatively moderate temperatures and high humidity. Moisture will concentrate in the lower part of the wheel and cheeses need to be turned periodically. The rind is usually brushed, rubbed or washed depending on the final product wanted. If aging goes wrong it can turn into spoilage and the pleasing aromas and flavors of a cheese can turn into defects.
Aging can last from a couple of weeks to several years depending on the final result wanted. For example, fresh goat cheese is aged 2-3 weeks however Parmiggiano is aged an average of 2 years. In 2012, the owner of a cheese shop in Wisconsin found some Cheddars that were forgotten in the back of a cooler. They had been “aging” for 28, 34, 39 and 40 years. They were found to be very sharp but creamy and not dry. The oldest cheese was sold for $10 an ounce! You can read more about this story HERE.
You don’t need to wait that long to try our cheeses but we are planning on having some of our cheeses age more than 2 months.
Photo credit: discover.blog.tourisme-aveyron.com