Producer: Jasper Hill Farms
Milk: Raw Ayrshire Cow's Milk
Age: 60 days
Smelly, ooey, Raw, and….Made in…really you must be joking…a remote part of the Swiss alps, perhaps? No, really…AMERICA! Winnimere is her name, heralding from the talented hands at Jasper Hill Farms. Wrapped with spruce bark, this 60 day-aged washed-rind, raw cow’s milk cheese owes its existence to a similar cheese from a famed golden-peaked mountain in Switzerland, Vacherin Mont d’Or.
Typically this cheese is only made in the cooler months, when the cows do not have access to fresh grasses. What makes Winnnimere particularly unique is that the cheesemakers are choosing to use the milk in its raw form. The problem with making a young raw milk cheese in America is that once it reaches the 60 day age minimum to be sold in the USA, it is, (usually) hog feed!
Typically, a cheesemaker pasteurizes the milk, adds synthetic bacterial cultures (that mimic those originally found in the raw milk) and market that cheese after three, maybe four weeks. So, how does Mateo Kehler overcome this problem? Rumor has it that he is slowly ripening the cheese at just less than forty degrees Fahrenheit. This slows the ripening process, which allows the cheese to be palatable at the relatively mature age of 60 days.
Intermingling like a well-developed veal jus, the flavors are beefy, big, but brought together nicely. Sheyboygan bratwurst, grainy mustard and sautéed greens come to mind as one wades through the silky, velvety paste of this young beauty. Washed with a lambic beer made down the street at Hill Farmstead brewery, the paste from this twenty-four ounce wheel will energetically run from its rind (if not given an appropriate stopping point, that is). Pair it with Flemish sour ale or a bottle of Beaujolais, oil-cured olives, and fried potatoes.
Pat Huber hails from the home of Tennessee Williams and the world-renowned lyricist Nelly, this southpaw cheese monger is a lover of all things wild and raw.