Well, it’s summertime, and that means lots of tall, green, good grass. Well, most places anyhow. I’m sure that Central Park and Prospect Park are trying their darndest to keep up, but there’s just no comparison between our New York City greenery and full-on pasture.
You may be asking yourself, what the heck does this have to do with cheese? Grass is nice and all, makes for nice scenery, and is good to stomp around in… but there’s more! Good grass equals a plethora of good things for the farmer, for the animals grazing on it, and for us stalwart eaters of grass-fed cheese!
Grass is good for the farmer because he (or she!) can feed his animals the old-fashioned way, by grazing. This not only manages the natural growth of grass on the land, it actually improves it as animals move through the fields leaving little bits of manure magic behind. Who needs a tractor when your fertilizers walk on four legs?
Grass is good for the animals because it’s chock full of potent vitamins and minerals. When cows, sheep, and goats are being milked, their bodies essetially work overtime to ensure that they are consuming enough nutrients to support their young (by way of milk!) as well as sustain themselves. Since there’s only so much an animal can consume during the day, grass is pretty much the healthiest snack going.
Grass is good for us because we get to absorb some of those extra vitamins and minerals as well! When animals are left to romp outside in the summer sunshine, they eke nutrients from the plants that we humans (with our goofy little one-chambered stomachs) couldn’t otherwise get. Grass-fed milk is full of beta-carotene, vitamins A and E, and CLA which is good fat known to fight cancer and other diseases. And last, but certainly not least, grass-fed cheeses are by far the tastiest cheeses on the map. After all, milk is like wine… it should taste like the place it comes from. Grass-fed milk has more complex flavors and aromas which, when made into cheese, pack a wallop of taste into a tiny little morsel.
Grass-fed cheeses good to munch right now:
Meadow Creek Dairy Grayson:
It’s back! The gooey, buttery, slightly pungent cheese from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Meadow Creek Dairy is one of the only truly seasonal cow dairies making farmstead cheese, and Grayson is a shining example of what a little good grass can do for your tastebuds! This week marks the release of the first batch of the season, so come on in and try a bite.
Jasper Hill Farm Bartlett Blue:
A big, blustery, and fudgy blue from the brothers Kehler up in Vermont. Bartlett is riddled with gorgeous green-blue veins and has a little salty punch that makes it the perfect mouth watering accompaniment to a glass of sweet white wine or dark syrupy port.
Twig Farm Square Cheese:
Michael Lee’s goats are some of the scrappiest around (in a good way). These hardy little buggers are on the browse from spring till fall, eating up tons of grass, shoots, leaves, brambles, and whatever else they can get their teeth on. The resulting cheese is floral, savory, and has gamey musky undertones.