This October, in honor of American Cheese Month, we'll be posting profiles of 31 amazing artisan producers that all reside stateside. Check in every day for a unique story behind some of Pastoral's favorite cheeses!
Producer: Milton Creamery
Location: Milton, Iowa
Cheese: Prairie Breeze Alpine Cheddar
When customers ask me what my favorite cheese is, I tell them that choosing one would be like choosing a favorite child. In truth, I am restraining myself from blurting out the name of this beautiful cheddar.
It’s kind of like my dirty little secret. After all, it’s just cheddar; it’s not raw, it’s not cloth-bound, it’s not even farmstead! It is straight-up American block-cheddar, left to age in its own little vacuum with nary an ambient influence around. But it is magnificent. It crumbles into succulent morsels that become sweet and creamy on the tongue as tangy tropical fruits dance along to the low, nutty notes that coat the mouth and leave you wanting more. The cheese is simple but complex; easy to eat, but leaves room to ponder; great on its own, but totally versatile and utilitarian.
So what makes it so irresistible? The Mennonite Musser family, who live in the rural town of Milton in southeastern Iowa, uses fresh milk from small, local Amish farms that is free of added hormones. The cows are treated with antibiotics only when strictly necessary and are pasture-fed and hand-milked. The Mussers believe that this adds to the richness and subtlety of their cheese. As soon as the milk arrives at the creamery, it is pasteurized, filtered and turned into cheese. The process takes about seven hours, after which the cheese is sealed in plastic and placed in an aging room for 9-12 months.
That part that really gets me though is that the head cheese-maker responsible for this multi-award winning cheddar is only 19 years old. Galen Musser took over operations at his family’s creamery at age 16 and has been collecting awards ever since.
Pair with: fruity white wines, such as Mohua Sauvignon Blanc or Elk Cove Pinot Gris; lighter red wines such as Domaine des Moirots Bourgogne Rouge; tasty lagers such as Ayinger Oktoberfest Marzen or a nice cold can of Stiegl.
Eat with: Granny smith apples; Apple & Sparkling Wine preserves from Q&A; Ames’s Clover or Basswood single-source honey; Fra’mani Salametto Piccante
Use it in: a grilled cheese sandwich; as a main component of mac & cheese; grated over a hot bowl of chili.