Friday, March 13, 2009

From Milk to Cheese

I ran into a couple of good friends last evening at dinner who gently reminded me that it had been weeks since I had posted a new blog writing.  I find it is kind of like getting my teeth cleaned. When the reminder comes in the mail I will make an appointment and get the work done, but until that time I am just fine with putting it at the bottom of my priorities.  Well, I would certainly prefer to write a blog than getting my teeth cleaned, but you get the idea.
I am changing the dairy.  Changing it a lot.  In a few weeks I will cease selling raw milk and instead produce and sell cheese.  
I have sold raw milk from the cows of Kurtwood Farms for the past four and a half years.  I started with one cow -- Dinah -- milking her in a muddy paddock and selling the milk in glass mason jars from the back of my truck.  It was most illegal and rather risky and yet it was such tasty milk and surprisingly the illegality didn't bother me too much.  At least I managed to put it out of my head as I drove around Seattle dropping off the quaint jars of tasty, creamy milk.
Two years later I built a small milk building and obtained a Grade A dairy license to sell raw milk.  The herd had grown by this time to four cows, with generally two in  milk at any one time.  The State had been quite helpful in the licensing process and the inspection process and the dairy grew.  I sold the milk in plastic jugs, a tidy little label on the front, looking all very official.  Kurt's All Jersey was born.  For the past two and a half years I have sold milk on Vashon Island and in the city this way and enjoyed it.  The milk was good and tasty and was now tested regularly to assure health standards.  
At the end of last year, I had a bit of an epiphany.  I was done selling milk.  
My attention span is limited.  I can only find something exciting for a period of time.  Then I want to try a new challenge.  I had learned the milk trade.  The barn was built, the dairy too and the pastures were coming in nicely.  A new challenge was needed.  I have turned to making cheese as the next challenge here at the Farm.
I quickly ordered a combination cheese vat - pasteurizer from C. van't Riet company in the Netherlands.  During the months of January and February this large piece of equipment was fabricated to my specifications.  A couple of weeks ago it was delivered to Rotterdam and then on to the U.S.  I expect it to arrive in another couple of weeks.
A small bulk tank to chill and hold the milk prior to making the cheese was ordered from a supplier in Canada.  With a bit of luck it too will arrive in the next two weeks.  New cheese molds and other small equipment will finish out the order.
I like working like this.  I have a long series of hurdles and tasks in front of me.  I can't even say that I am aware of most of them, but I am confident that I can overcome them.  The first few have been taken care of, the next set are being worked on and the rest will be solved as they appear.
I plan on first making a bloomy-rind fresh cows' milk cheese, commonly known as Camembert. I like making these cheeses;  the milk from my Jerseys is a rich, creamy milk that suits this cheese well.  Prototypes have been lovely.  
I will continue to sell raw milk until the new equipment is hooked up.  Because of the specific nature of the cheese vat and the milk tank, I will give up my license to sell fluid milk and concentrate only on making and selling cheese.  Although  many of my customers will be saddened by this, I must admit that I will not miss hauling around gallons of milk in jugs.  I am confident that quality of the cheese will win over my past customers.
So, eight weeks of news in one short blog post.  Really, I will try to keep more current.


  1. I hope you will sell the cheese at the local farmer's markets. I'm eager to try the camembert.

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  3. Hi Kurt...This is great. I can't wait to eat some. Come visit us at the Boat Street soon!
    xo Renee

  4. Kurt-what a big step. I tried your cheese on Orcas, it is awesome! so so delicious. Check out my post about the wedding....i mention your now almost extinct

  5. A good story

    GK Chesterton: “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

    Voila: This book is a poetic view of 30 of the best loved French cheeses with an additional two odes to cheese. Recipes, wine pairing, three short stories and an educational section complete the book.

    From a hectic life in New York City to the peace and glories of the French countryside lead me to be the co-founder of Ten years later with the words of Pierre Androuet hammering on my brain:

    “Cheese is the soul of the soil. It is the purest and most romantic link between humans and the earth.”

    I took pen and paper; many reams later with the midnight oil burning Tasting to Eternity was born and self published.

    I believe cheese and wine lovers should be told about this publication.



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