About the cheese
Fun and flavorful, Hill Valley Dairy’s Cheese is about promoting their small-batch, high-quality products for those that appreciate good cheese in their fridge any day of the week.
The Cheesemaking Process
Creation of the cheese starts in the field, where the 65 milking cows at Romari Farms are given as much air and good food that the 240 acre farm can sustainably produce. Every Sunday, a milk truck picks up the milk from the dairy and delivers it to Clock Shadow Creamery in Milwaukee where Ron Henningfeld, cheesemaker, produces his small-batch cheeses.
Ron describes the process: “Early Monday morning, we start with about 500 gallons of milk being pasteurized and flowing into the cheese vats. The milk is warmed, the cheese culture is added. We’ve spent a lot of time choosing the cheese culture to meet the flavor profiles we are looking for in our cheeses. We leave the culture in the milk for an hour where the culture organisms feed on the lactose and start thriving in the milk. After that we add the coagulate, referred to as rennet, which changes the liquid milk to a semi-solid state.
We cut this semi-solid state into little ¼ inch cubes with a cheese harp – a metal frame strung with wires. Once cut, a liquid called whey starts to come out of the curds. The resulting curds and whey are mixed with large paddles. The addition of a little heat starts to shrink the curds and expel more whey. At this point, we need to separate the curds from the whey. We open a small valve on the vat, which releases the whey and keeps the curds in the bottom of the vat. The curds are still stirred while salt, our final ingredient, is added. At this point, the curds will be put in block forms or wheel forms depending if they are to become cheddar or Gouda. In the absence of the forms, we’ll bag our cheese curds to get our famous delicious cheese curds.”
Developing our flavors
For our cheddars, it is important to me to have a solid cheddar flavor up front, backed up by the notes carried by the milk, like the milk I drank in childhood. I wanted to share the taste of my home farm. Southeastern Wisconsin has a unique flavor profile that carries from the land to the animals, to the milk, and through to the cheese.
With our Gouda, I wanted a creamy, tangy, nutty Gouda. I tweaked little steps in the process to attain the moisture level and culture levels I wanted, which makes the cheese express that nutty flavor that Gouda is famous for.
People love cheese curds. It is Wisconsin’s famous snack food. The challenge with cheese curds is that it is a young, fresh cheese, which will show any flaws in the cheesemaking process. Because of this, I’m working very hard from batch-to-batch to maintain the most consistent product that I can. These cheese curds are also the base for the rest of my cheeses, so making them correctly is the starting point for people understanding my ability to make cheese.
Where playfulness comes into our cheese
Black pepper cheddar
There is something about a strong cheddar and fresh black pepper that is irresistible. We started with the cheddar as the base then add a high-quality freshly ground black pepper that becomes a great snacking cheese or a melted cheese on hamburgers.
Our bacon cheddar is one of the collaborative cheeses we’ve developed at Hill Valley Dairy. What started as a conversation with Nick Vorpagel, of Lake Geneva Country Meats, soon became a fun collaboration where they supplied the high quality bacon, and we incorporated it into the cheese. This took a lot of trial and error to get the perfect bacon flavor in every bite of cheese. We use a variety of bacon sizes and additional seasonings in the cheddar, so every bite is a delightful surprise with our bacon cheddar.
This cheese is as much about family, as it is about making a really fun product. The cheese starts from the milk from my brother Frank’s farm, Romari Farms. After the cheese is finished, we soak the cheese in a Rye Whiskey made by Great Northern Distillery, out of Plover, Wisconsin. My brother-in-law, Tyler, is the head distiller. After several rounds of experimentation, we found that aging, then soaking the cheese, created superior cheddars and Gouda. What was fascinating is that the cheddar picks up the oakey smoke flavors out of the whiskey, while the Gouda picks up the sweeter notes and aromatic characteristics from the whiskey. The results are great snacking cheeses, but we highly recommend putting the cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich. Once you warm up that Gouda and get the Gouda and whiskey flavors…it is a real treat.
cheese that is like a good friend.
Our ongoing goal is to craft cheese that is like a good friend…A cheese that people notice and appreciate having around. A cheese that people want to invite to their social gatherings, special occasions and everyday life.
CHEDDAR CHEESE CURDS
GARLIC DILL CHEESE CURDS
CAJUN CHEESE CURDS
BLACK PEPPER CHEDDAR
TOMATO BASIL CHEDDAR
GARLIC DILL CHEDDAR
WHERE TO BUY
Mukwonago Winter Market
Every 2nd and 4th Saturday
November 14th, 2020- April 9th 2021
Phantom Lake YMCA Camp
Lake Geneva Country Meats
Lake Geneva Piggly Wiggly
The Bottle Shop
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