Yes, Night Sky Farm produces 100% Jersey Cow Milk CREAM CHEESE and I am going to tell you how it’s done, here and now. First, you start with one of these and no facsimile will do.
This is our registered Jersey cow, Emily. She is 5 years old and giving us 3.5 gallons of milk each day. Emily is due to calf on February 1, 2011 and she will be dried off in the beginning of December 2010, so she can take a break and get herself ready for the next go ’round. Her diet consists of 16% dairy ration grain, alfalfa hay, orchard grass hay and pasture. She is outside except to come into the parlor for milking or during bad weather she is in her stall. She has never been sick or had mastitis and she is vaccinated every year for cow illnesses and tested for Tuberculosis and Brucellosis. She is a happy cow and knows her name, comes when called and backs out of the milking parlor when I ask. So, for CREAM CHEESE, we begin with fresh, clean Emily milk. All our milk for fresh cheese is required to be pasteurized before I can sell it and so it is for this milk. I have an extraordinarily small pasteurization system and can only process 3.5 gallons of milk at a time. Each 3.5 gallon pot has it’s temperature recorded during the half hour pasteurization.
After pasteurization, the heating of the milk to 145 degrees and holding it there for a half hour to ensure all nasty bacteria is killed, the milk is cooled in a cold water bath to approximately 90 degrees. At that time a bacterial culture is added and acidifier, better known as rennet is also stirred in. In effect, you have killed everything, good and bad in the milk and reintroduced special bacteria that you want so the milk will transform into a particular type of cheese, be it chevre, cheddar or havarti. Akin to an artist and her canvas. CREAM CHEESE requires a long culturing process of 12 -15 hours and a just as long draining period. The cheese room has a special “closet” for draining cheese that can be shut off from the rest of the room to keep airborne bacteria and yeasts at a low level. You don’t want those in your cheese. After culturing, the curd is cut, placed into cloth draining bags and hung in the closet for 8 – 10 hours or until I feel the consistency is to my liking. The curd is removed form the cloth bags, worked and salted with natural sea salt. This CREAM CHEESE is not your everyday, run o’the mill cheese; it is not like Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese at all. It is Night Sky Farm CREAM CHEESE and it is light and fluffy, easy to spread and delicious to eat on a bagel, topping a pizza or in a cheesecake. All of which I have done.
Our CREAM CHEESE is sold in 8 oz. vacuum sealed packages with a blue Night Sky Farm label. They are sold at our markets and on the farm for $6.50 each. Our website lists them for a bit more, but shipping is included. The cheese freezes well, so you can stock up for the holiday season. Try mixing up a dip with our CREAM CHEESE or a spread by adding your own unique touches to an already naturally sweet, creamy 100% Jersey Cow Milk cheese. Night Sky Farm can be found Saturday mornings in Charlottesville and in Richmond, at the Charlottesville City Market and at the St. Stephen’s Farmer’s Market. Our products can be purchased through Fall Line Farms, Relay Foods, Off The Vine Market, Sprout Market & Cafe and enjoyed at Isabella’s Trattoria.