One secret of cheese making revealed


I eat all kinds of cheese in abundance but Cheddar cheese holds a special place in my diet. In fact, it’s not only one of my favourite foods but one of my favourite ingredients as well. So, when I got an opportunity to hang out with an artisan cheese maker for an afternoon, I was pretty excited!

My old friend Ruth Klahsen (she was one of my instructors at the Stratford Chefs school) is the owner and chief cheesemaker behind the much-acclaimed Monforte cheese company. She hooked me up with Rachel Bauman, one of her cheese makers, so that I could learn a little more about how my favourite food is transformed from liquid to solid.

While I learned enough to write a full-length article, one of the most fascinating tidbits I gleaned from Rachel is how cheese makers control mold growth when making the cloth bound Cheddar pictured above. Once the cheese curds are pressed into a form to make a wheel of cheese and it has drained for a while, the cheese maker coats each piece all over in lard and then wraps it up in cheesecloth. The mold you see on the outside of the cheese above is essential to develop delicious, sharp flavour; however, it must be kept in check. That’s where the lard comes in. It’s the food that the mold eats so that it doesn’t affect the cheese undesirably. Neat, huh?

What’s your favourite cheese? If you had to choose just one cheese to commit to for the rest of your life, could you?

In related news, check out this warning posted earlier this week on The Kitchn. Hearing about crappy tactics like this one make me love honest cheesemakers like Ruth and Rachel even more!


20 Responses to One secret of cheese making revealed

  1. Sara says:

    Cheddar is probably my favorite, especially the aged sharp cheddars.

  2. Kathryn says:

    Probably cheddar, but it would be soooo hard to limit myself to one kind of cheese. For as long as I can remember, it is cheese that I grab when I am standing in front of the refrigerator, with the door open, trying to find “a little something”.

  3. Amy says:

    I don’t think I could stick to one cheese. I can however tell you that I tend to like the softer cheeses…Camembert…Brie…Along the lines of that. But a specific cheese? I haven’t found that yet…

  4. Barb says:

    Cheddar (If I can only pick one) Probably aged if I have to narrow it down further.

  5. I’m with Kathryn and unable to limit myself to one cheese. I love Port Salut, but can’t resist a smoked applewood gouda. We had an absolutely stunning toffee cheese at Christmas and an aged whisky cheddar that was to die for with a glass of scotch.

    I have a soft spot for havarti and can’t imagine some dishes without gruyere. Chevre and feta are indispensable…

  6. Cheryl A says:

    Only one? If pressed it would have to be a ridiculously sharp cheddar.

    Have you ever read, “Blessed are the Cheesemakers”? It’s chicklit with a twist.

  7. Diva says:

    Choose just one?! That is cruel and unusual, Dana! I’m a major cheese hound and would be hard pressed to pick just one variety. A sharp, aged cheddar would certainly contend, as would both chaource and epoisses.

    What a great experience you had spending the day with such a fine cheesemaker … I’ll bet it was tasty too. I’m envious. Off to check out your link …

  8. Cheryl says:

    I wouldn’t, couldn’t pick just one. There are the eating cheese (Manchego, Camembert), the finishing cheeses (Parmagiano-Reggiano, Romano), the melting cheeses (cheddar, swiss), and the salad cheeses (chevre, blue, feta).

    And I haven’t even gotten started yet. How could ANYONE pick just one?

  9. Jeff Deasy says:

    If it has to be just one choice..I’d go with Berkshire Blue, a creamy, raw milk blue cheese crafted from the milk of a closed herd of grass fed Jersey cows.

    Unlike Kraft single slices it is guaranteed to be glue-free!

  10. danamccauley says:

    GLue free is a very important aspect of my cheese choice criteria, too!

    Sounds like we have a lot of cheese lovers on this board. I notice that Adrian was very quiet today…wonder why?

    Cheryl A, I’m going to look for that book – I could use a good read right now! Thanks.

  11. Puglette says:

    i love a sharp cheddar. but only one cheese? nope, i wouldn’t do that, there are too many out there i want to try!

  12. brilynn says:

    When I was at George Brown, Ruth came and did a talk for the Tastes of Tomorrow club, she was great!

    And I just love cheese…. I want it all.

  13. Natashya says:

    So cool that you got to see how cheese is made!
    I would love to make cheese, that is my dream. This year I made ricotta… baby steps..

  14. Sheryl says:

    Let’s see, there’s Mimolette, Brie de Meaux, Morbier, Roquefort, Ruth’s Piacere… I’ve only ever come across a few that I don’t like, mostly Tommes from Quebec (no offense Quebeckers).

  15. If I could take one cheese with me to heaven (and a good loaf of bread), I would also have to choose a well-aged cheddar. American cheddars are exceptional cheeses, very much match with good French cheeses to my taste. Even such lowly cheese as Kraft extra sharp cheddar wrapped in plastic is not bad if all fails.

    Check out Tried and True Recipes from a Caterer’s Kitchen—Secrets of Making Great Foods

    On Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

  16. […] One Secret Of Cheese Making Revealed  […]

  17. Elizabeth says:

    That is so cool about adding lard to feed the mold when aging cheddar!!

    Favourite cheese: Aged Gruyere… no!! it’s 12 year old Cheddar… no, wait!! it’s Creamy Goat’s cheese… errr, nope!! it’s double cream Brie… ummm, changed my mind again!!! it’s Monforte’s blue goat’s cheese…. noooooo, it’s….

    Ha. Clearly, pretty much any cheese is my favourite cheese.

  18. Dean Tudor says:

    The absolutely hardest thing about cheesemaking in Toronto is this: where do you buy animal rennet? I’ve tried the vegetable stuff at Fiesta Farms, doesn’t work. I’ve enquired at diverse cheese stalls, but they don’t want to tell me. Gurth Pretty sent me to Glengary Cheese company, but they wanted $70 or so for a HUGE order, which would be nice if I was making a ton of cheese.

    So it looks as if I’m stuck with fresh cheese using lemon juice. Not a bad thing, but no variety here…

  19. Kevin says:

    Right now my favorite cheese is gorgonzola. What a horrible fate to only be allowed one kind of cheese for the rest of your life! There are so many really good cheeses out there.

  20. Andrea says:

    Cheddar, old and white. I don’t do orange cheese.
    Also Parmesan or some form of pecorino, and I usually have a mozzarella and gruyere on hand.

    I’m a big fan of Monforte. Last summer I was buying their cheese at farmer’s markets.

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