Cabot Creamery in the small town of Cabot is the resulting business of when family-owned Vermont dairy farmers coordinated themselves into a cooperative.
Basically they make Cheddar cheeses, there are factory tours and I’ve picked out this destination as the place I would really like to see today.
Hubby and the kids give me a look that says .. What ! really???? won’t that be boooooring? but humour me anyway.
We arrive and find that there is a tour starting in just a few minutes so perfect timing.
I’m of course keen to see if what they tout as ” the worlds best cheddar” actually tastes when pitted against the many brilliant cheeses that I have eaten in Europe, and how what American’s call ” sharp cheese” compares to it’s Dutch counterparts ” oud boeren kaas ” (Old farmhouse cheese). I’m interested in seeing the New World v’s Old World taste battle commence.
More than 200 Dutch farmhouses make their own cheeses and age them, and the taste varies considerably from farmhouse to farmhouse because each one has a slightly different way of dealing with the cheese process. Therefore like most Dutch, we have rather naturally gotten totally spoilt when it comes buying and appreciating young and old cheeses.
The tour starts with a film outlining the history and formation of the co-operative, the cheese making process and their way of working within the cooperative. Although the nuts and bolts of cheese making are not new to me, I still learn a lot because this is not one farm with milk from the cows going into the cheese made on the premises but rather a finely tuned business where all the cogs and wheels of people, materials and machines have to be turning in unison together to get the desired finished product to a local markets.. or within the State or across the United States.
The we tour the factory itself… everything from robots what do a whole part of the process… to semi automated lines, we see the curds being aerated and salt added and the whey being removed.
Most of the cheese is packaged in very large blocks for distribution and will be repackaged in smaller blocks later once it’s reached it’s destination. This ensures that the highest quality is maintained. Luckily a robotic machine does the staking of the boxes onto pallets because these are heavy duty hunks of cheese. Of course the factory process means that the ” wheel” of cheese so typical to Dutch shops is totally absent, and they don’t appear to age their cheeses very much at all.
During the tour it is mentioned that one lady staff member has a very large block of cheese aging nicely at home for several years now… and the man smiled and laughed at this like it was seen as a bit of a joke. My first most instant thought was ” How wrong he is to smirk, and how excellent that this lady staff member actually understands that aging her cheese is deepening and refining the flavours… and quietly making cheese magic as she patiently waits. Bravo !”
The quality control people are busy in their little room.. .
It’s good to see a cheese making establisment taking such pride in their work and in their product, that bodes well for the tasting session. I hope that the tasting lives up to the expectations that are building as we tour the premesis. There will be cheese tasting at the end of the tour…. so we follow our friendly and informative guide with great anticipation for a little Quality Control session of our own !