Currently, over one-third of U.S. produced milk is made into cheese. Here in Whatcom County especially, the cheese industry is thriving and we love having so many other cheese makers around! As you may know, my Pake (grandfather) starting making Gouda as a retirement hobby. It was then developed into a business to bring in a little extra cash for our families while the milk prices were at record lows. Cheese has been a huge blessing to our family and there were times where the farm (on its own) would not have survived had we not found a little side market to tap into.
This wonderful dairy product has a rich history of culture and adventure. As much adventure as acidified milk can have that is! From the Roman Empire to monasteries in Europe, cheese has made its way around the world on the backs on explorers and settlers looking for a fresh start. The legend of the first cheese tell us an Arabian merchant carried his supply of milk in a pouch made from a sheep’s stomach. As he traveled through the hot sun, the rennet from the pouch caused the milk to separate into curds and whey. At the end of the day he found the whey quenched his thirst, and the curd took care of his hunger! Thus cheese was born!
While I wouldn’t recommend trying milk that has curdled from the sun, cheese making really is pretty simple. If you feel like a crash course, we highly recommend this book (which we carry in the shop)! We were fortunate enough to meet Claudia in person this spring (she is lovely and very knowledgeable), and her book is informative and perfect for those looking to try a little cheese making in their kitchens!