Sunday, May 12, 2013

Making Cheese and Other #DairyGood Activities at Canyon View Farm

As I am contemplatively munching on a bit of swiss cheese with some crackers, I am thinking back about what a fun time I had today at Canyon View Farm, home of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese.  And wow, this cheese is addictive!  It's made from raw milk and lots of care.  What better establishment to make Swiss Cheese than a Dairy Farm owned by a Swiss family?

Established in 1929, this 500 acre farm has been passed down from one generation of Swiss Americans to the next because these hardy folks believe in the farm lifestyle and know that it provides a wholesome way of life and provides wholesome food to people who are fortunate enough to partake! Plus, it doesn't hurt that Midway, UT is absolutely beautiful in the spring! 



I learned that the predominant dairy cows are mainly Holsteins and Jersey's. Holsteins are by far the most utilized, simply because they are easier to manage and they give more milk.  Jersey cows do have richer milk and sometimes they are mixed with Holstein milk just to provide that extra richness.  

It used to be that all the cows on the farm were given names.  In fact, it was rather hard to come up with names after awhile and so Grant Kohler, the owner of the farm, back in his dating years would name a cow after every new girl he took out on a date.  I wonder if the girls knew this?  Now they are all assigned just numbers, but the farmer knows more about them today than back then--everything from the percentage of butterfat their milk has, to their birthing history. The farm is very technology driven, from the milking itself to the testing of the health of the cows, to the removal of the milk to the trucks or to the cheese vats, to the formulation of the bacterias that make the cheese.  So it really helps that both Grant Koehler and his son have Engineering Degrees.  

The cows on the farm are not corn fed, and the farm will be producing 100% of its feed within the next 3 years.  The cows are tested regularly to see if they have the correct amounts of protein, white blood count, and other health indicators.  If they are below the farm's extremely high standard, the cows are removed from the job, and nursed back to health.  When they are better and ready to be milked the milk from the previously sick cow is not used for a period of time because they need to make sure that there is no trace of antibiotics in the milk.  

There is one bovine that gets extra special attention and treatment and that is Geraldine, the steer.  Geraldine is the most gentle, easy-going guy and loves to be fed  and petted.  He's a big softy and he'll come lumbering up if he thinks there may be a chance for a pat on the nose or a carrot!

 

I learned that this is a place where you can purchase raw milk on the premises.  Raw milk is known to be one of the most perfect foods on the planet.  I felt really good about their methods of bottling and storing the milk.  It is never even exposed to air because it comes right from the cow and goes through airtight tubes into their containers and sealed.  And the stringent testing of each cow beforehand ensures that the milk is high quality.  

We tried all kinds of their various cheeses--mild chedder, medium chedder, and aged sharp chedder, swiss cheese, mozerella, and then the specialty cheeses.  I loved every single one of them, which is why pretty soon I was feeling pretty full and then extremely full.  But I couldn't resist as each new cheese came through, I needed to taste it.  I could definitely taste the difference.  And since Swiss Cheese is my absolute favorite, I HAD to get a taste of that.  I was very impressed.  It is very flavorful and very creamy.  They had a selection of Southwestern flavored cheeses, with varying degrees of kick to them.  There was even an Oreo Cookie Cheese.  One of their cheeses, the Wasatch Back Jack won best the best cheese award from the American Cheese Society!  If you'd like to experience their cheeses, they have cheese tasting events that you sign up for!  Just go to their website and sign up! 

The next experience was dressing up in dairy garb and going into the cheese "sanctom", where the cheeses are actually formulated, mixed and aged.  This part of the farm process was demonstrated by Russ Kohler, Grant's son.  Everything is kept completely sterile.  The 4 ingredients that go into cheese are lactic acid (sugars combined with bacteria), rennin (an enzyme that acts with the bacteria), curds and salt. It's an individualized process of measuring, mixing and aging.  Every cheese-maker has his own individual mixture of bacterias and sugars, which create the unique flavor. When the cheese is finally created, it is put into the 'Cave' to age.  It is aged from a year to a year and a half.   



We were treated to a lesson in making homemade mozerella cheese as well.  It's not enough that they make cheese on the farm for their customers, the family makes their own mozerella at home!  These people are definitely cheese connoisseurs!  

I went back to the city enamoured with the country life that these folks enjoy and the cheeses and milk they provide.  I'm sure I'll be back soon!

This post was written as part of a Blog Tour in cooperation with MomItForward and the Dairy Council of UT/NV



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