Happy Cheese Makers Since 1978

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Presents: 'The Cheesemakers'

John & Janine Putnam

Thistle Hill Farm

North Pomfret VT

producing 'Tarentaise'
Vermont Alpine Cheese

an aged alpine raw milk cheese handmade on the Putnam family farm. The cheese is made in the tradition of the Savoie region of the French Alps


Made from
the certified organic milk
of their grass-fed
Jersey cows

This young Vermont couple, after developing their jersey herd, went in search of the perfect cheese ... one which would reflect their taste, the organic milk of their herd, and one which would show the quality of their work

In the Savoie region of the French Alps they found a style of cheese that seemed to most suit them and are currently making this mountain style 'Gruyere' in Vermont using traditional cultures and a new custom built copper vat

We see here the newly constructed dairy ready to receive the wealth of the surrounding pastures

The efforts of their dream are shown here in the simplicity of this copper vat and stirrer

Janine has finished milking and the vat is filling for the days work...

...while John is beginning preparation
of his traditional starter culture

The culture has been added
to the milk and ripened...

followed by the rennet ... we see here a simple test for signs of the first set

Once set ... John will use the traditional harp to cut with

As the proper curd set is established,
the cutting begins..

first a rough cut
followed by the final cutting...

which will reduce the curd
to wheat grain size pieces

Now the curd must be stirred
for a good while before
the scald (cooking) begins

The scald will essentially dry the curd out. John is doing a simple texture test to determine the curd's condition

By now , with all of the heating and scalding, the room becomes very warm and humid as indicated here

As the curd approaches readiness, John prepares the cloth and metal strip to retrieve it

with 2 corners in his teeth
and the other side supported by the metal strip...

... John dives for the mass of curd ...
guiding the cloth along the bottom
of the vat and pulling it forward
he finds himself...

...in a precarious balance, but quickly finds the wall for support

He has suceeded in capturing the curd, and now readies the cloth...

...but seeks a bit of help
to remove the curd

Finally the curd is
hoisted and trolleyed ...

...to the readied forms
for pre pressing

Here the tight texture of the cheese will be established

In a short while the
forms are removed...

The cheese is quartered
(Note the close texture at this point)

These quarters are then placed into smaller molds and readied for repress

Hydraulic pressure is now applied and in a short while...

...the basic shape of the cheese is established

The third and final phase now involves the traditional molds as used in France

The curd is again wrapped in cloth and this loop tightened
for final shape

Now the days work will be held
to retain heat and allow
the final acid to be reached
during the next several hours

The cheese will then be readied for salting and a long rest in the cave

Jim Wallace, the tech guy

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