Pat and Bill Boersma started Bravo Farms dairy in 1979. Located near Visalia in the San Jaoquin Valley in California, Bill and Pat ran the farm solely as a dairy operation for several years before making the decision to get into cheese production and to concentrate their efforts on making cheddar.
In 2006, the Boersmas made the decision to sell their herd of 80 cows to a neighbor, which has allowed them to focus their attention solely on cheese production. They continue to work closely with, and buy the milk back from the herd's new owner, thereby ensuring the necessary quality and consistency for cheesemaking.
In addition to this development, Bill and Pat have recently formed a partnership with Jonathan Van Ryn, a young artisan cheesemaker who studied cheesemaking at California Polytechnic University. Jonathan's arrival has allowed Bravo to expand production considerably without compromising quality.
Now, in addition to the traditional cheddars, Bravo has gone into the production of Silver Mountain, a cloth bound cheddar that is matured for nine months.
Silver Mountain is a cylindrical cheese weighing 12-15lbs., and the idea came when Bill found some discarded hoops previously used for shaping Stilton.
The recipe for Silver Mountain a combintation of an English Cheddar and Cantal from France.
The young cheeses are wrapped in cheesecloth in the style of traditional cheddar. This protects the cheeses and allows them to breathe during maturation, which results in some moisture loss and a concentration of flavor. Using a Cantal technique, the wheels are removed from their molds after two days, unwrapped from the cloth, and dipped again in warm whey. This method re-activates the cultures. Afterwards, the cheeses are repacked in their cheesecloth-lined molds and pressed a second time to expel more moisture. As part of the maturing process, the wheels are first coated with lard, followed later with olive oil. This helps prevent mold from becoming too excessive.
Having initially sold Silver Mountain at six months of age, Boersma is now releasing them at nine months.
Silver Mountain is an aromatic cheese. Flavors are balanced, deep and rich, with hints of brown butter and caramel. The texture is close and firm, similar in some respects to a cheddar, but not as creamy or waxy.
Pairs well with a big red wine.