At Smith’s Country Cheese, we’ve made a commitment to reduce our carbon footprint. Our grid-tied photovoltaic solar system offsets over 70% of our hot water and 30% of our electrical usage costs by using the energy of the sun. We make our own compost from cow manure, famously known as “Otter River Black Gold” to manage our farm waste in a green way (check out what it does for your lawn and garden!). We happily welcome visitors to shop our country gift shop, visit the cows, and watch us make cheese (oh yes, and sample it too!).
Each day, our family is committed to providing the best care for our cows, making quality cheeses for our customers, and taking care of the environment that has given us so much. We invite you to experience the delightful difference in true local, farmstead cheese.
How We Make Our Cheese
Here at Smith’s, old fashioned family traditions and hard work are combined to produce our Farmstead Cheeses. Our Gouda rivals any made in the Netherlands. It has the same mild taste, creamy texture and small, bubbly eyes. An excellent dessert cheese, it is also great for cooking and melts beautifully. Anyone who recognizes the appeal of farm fresh milk will enjoy the rich and creamy flavor of our Gouda, Havarti, and cheddar cheeses. Unlike factory-produced cheese, our farmstead cheeses share much of the same characteristic quality, distinction, and appeal as other hand-crafted culinary products or beverages.
Naturally, the first step in cheese production is getting the milk. Our cheeses are made from the freshest milk possible. The milk used at Smith’s Country Cheese comes directly from our own dairy herd of 200 Holsteins. Our cows are milked, by machine, twice per day. Each cow produces an average of 75 lbs of milk per day, with top producers giving up to 165 lbs. We are able to milk 60 cows in an hour. Some of this milk is then brought directly up to our cheese making facility where it is pumped into the cheese vat. It requires 100 pounds of milk to make 10 pounds of Gouda. The milk is pumped into the cheese vat just minutes after the last cow in our dairy herd is milked. The result is true farmstead cheese!
Once the milk has been pumped into the vat, it is slowly heated to 99° F. After the addition of culture (good bacteria which give cheese flavor and texture) and rennet (used to make the protein particles clump together and to separate the milk into solids and liquids), the heated milk slowly begins to turn to curds (solids) and whey (liquids.) The whey is drained away, and the curds are cut into blocks. Each block is then placed into a round form and net, then covered and stacked in a press. After 45 minutes, the softly formed curds are shaped into a wheel. They are then removed from the press, inspected, and placed in a brine tank (a salt water bath) in cold storage to soak overnight. In the morning, the cheese is removed, dried, and packaged for aging until it is 60 days old. Because we use raw milk (not pasteurized), a 60 day self-pasteurizing, aging period provides ample time for ripening and flavor enhancement. When the cheese has matured to 60 days, it is packaged, labeled and ready for sale!