This cheese has got...great color
Scientists appreciate experiments...and well, we’re scientists. Food scientists, to be precise, at Cornell, studying dairy chemistry (Steve) and foodborne pathogens (Daina). So when we realized we were examining the results of a Jasper Hill experiment, we were excited. Three almost identical wedges arrived, challenging our powers of discrimination with subtle differences. Surely, just a variable or two were tweaked in the process of crafting a new cheese.
Probably the most spectacular aspect of this mystery Alpine style was its natural, bright orange rind, already described by others. You’d expect that color from a softer washed rind cheese, but on a hard aged cheese?! Mindblowing. The rind definitely had the funk of a washed rind cheese but quickly faded into a mild, creamy paste. We could have used a little more funk in the center, and like many of the other tasters have already shared, we thought they were all too bland.
Our minds raced as we evaluated the paste, thinking about details on cheese pH, salt level, mechanical manipulation, press temperature, curd temperature at cutting, culture use -- oh, where to start? One particularly attractive attribute of the cheeses is their beautiful straw-colored paste, indicating fresh milk from some well-fed cows. We know they’re made from cows’ milk cheese because the color compounds (carotenoids, think “carrots”) are readily passed from feed to milk and cheese in cows, but not so easily in ewes and goats. And these aren’t just any cows we’re talking about, these ladies are eating at the head table, getting some high quality Northern Vermont flora. Their varied, plant-based diet translates into the rich deep yellow color that’s hard to fake.
Having just hosted a grilled cheese contest at Cornell, we naturally imagine any new cheese melted between two slices of toasted bread. The cheeses’ hints of thiol-containing vegetables (translation: onions and garlic) suggest a natural pairing with white onions and a crisp leafy-green. Pair it with a Belgian style ale and we think you’ve got dinner.