Sally Jackson Sheep Cheese w Chestnut Leaves (Ceased Production)
Located on 140 acres of remote farmland in the Okanagon Highlands in eastern Washington, Sally and Roger Jackson raise a small number of sheep, goats, and cows, using their milk for farmstead cheese production.
Having initially sold their cheeses just in Washington state, their business has grown over the years and limited quantities of cheese are now shipped to various locations around the United States.
Cheesemaking takes place in the small, detached make room on the farm. Milk is heated in a large pot over a wood burning stove which sits in a corner of the room. Adjacent is an area used for storing the chestnut and vine leaves that have become synonymous with Sally Jackson's cheeses. The sheep's and cow's milk versions are wrapped in chestnut leaves, while the goat cheese is wrapped in vine leaves, all of which are gathered by hand from a local chestnut grove where the vines grow around the perimeter. The leaves are soaked in alcohol prior to wrapping, both to give the leaves flexibility and to impart flavor to the cheeses.
Wrapped in leaves and tied with string, Sally's cheeses are instantly recognizable for their rustic appearance. Unnamed, the sheep's and goat's milk versions are simply referred to as Sally Jackson's Sheep's/Goat's Milk Cheese Wrapped in Chestnut/Vine Leaves. The cow's milk version is known as Renata, named after one of Sally's cows.
Milk for the sheep's milk cheese comes from Sally's herd of Suffolk, Friesian and Romanov sheep. The paste is bone-white in color, becoming darker towards the rind, and although the leaves are edible, they do not make recommended eating. The texture is smooth and dense, becoming softer with age.
Flavors are earthy, vegetal and rustic, with hints of mushrooms and a lactic tang. With age, flavors can become quite assertive and pungent.