Scary Cheese! A Saxelby Halloween Special

Tales of the World’s Weirdest… A Saxelby Halloween Special
We all love cheese. That is certain. But as cheese lovers we also have to embrace the sometimes scary sideshow world of cheese freaks and creatures that go along with eating it. This extra spooky edition of ‘This Week at Saxelby Cheese’ is devoted to the creepy, crawly and wonderful world of mites, microbes, and yes, maggots, that are part of the global patrimony of cheese!
Mites are everywhere – on our skin, in the dust in our houses, and on cheese rinds too! In France they’re referred to as ‘les petits amis, or les artisans’ which sounds much more endearing that the English version. What looks like a lot of innocuous dust on the shelf in a cheese cave is actually a living pile of cheese mites! Leave this dust alone for a bit and it will shift and move in search of more cheese. The cheese mites feast on the rind of the cheese, carving out pits and pockets as they go. They’re also totally harmless – just fun fodder for Halloween scary cheese stories!
It takes a really adventurous cheese lover (or a native Sardinian) to want to dig into a piece of this cheese! Casu Marzu, one of Sardinia’s traditional cheeses, is intentionally full of maggots. As the cheese ages in semi open-air caves, the cheesemakers cut a small slit in the rind of the cheese to encourage flies to land there. The flies, being flies, of course land there and lay eggs. After a few weeks, the eggs hatch and the larvae begin to devour the interior of the cheese – and the humans follow after. If pressed, I guess I’d try this one in the name of professional development but it would literally be a hard cheese to swallow.
suffolk punch moldy
All cheese in the world is made great thanks to microbes. Actually, without microbes, there wouldn’t be any cheese at all. And that, friends, is the scariest prospect of all! Be they bacteria, yeast, or fungi, they’re in cheese in some way, shape or form. To jump start the fermentation process essential to all cheese making, culture (a nice way of saying bacteria) is introduced to the milk to eat the lactose in the milk and acidify it. There are also ambient molds, yeasts, and bacteria that can get into the mix and add flavor along the way. During the maturation process, the mold present on cheese rinds further aids in the development of flavor. The moral of this moldy tale… don’t fear the mold…. eat it!
Stop by Saxelby Cheesemongers in the Essex Street Market thisSaturday for some Halloween Tricks and delicious Treats!

Saxelby’s Five Minute History of American Artisan Cheese!

In honor of American Cheese Month Saxelby Cheesemongers would like to present your with our very own five minute history of American artisan cheese. In the course of a subway ride, standing in line at the coffee shop, or (dare we say it?!) a trip to the bathroom, you too can be an American cheese expert! Be sure to stop by Saxelby Cheesemongers this week to celebrate American Cheese Month by picking up a wedge of your favorite American artisan cheese, raising a glass, and saluting  our incredible American cheese makers!
Way back in the day, cheese making in the United States was very reflective of the immigrant populations that settled in certain regions. In New England, the focus was on cheddar, in Wisconsin, which was largely settled by Swiss and German immigrants, cheeses of the same provenance – Limburger, Gruyere, and the like flourished. In California, the Italian and Spanish immigrants made hard nutty table cheeses that mimicked the staples of their homeland.
Remnants of American cheese making from before the Second World War remain, but they are few and far between. Cheddar making cooperatives like Cabot Creamery and Grafton Village Cheese are churning out blocks of cheddar in Vermont, the country’s last Limburger plant is still selling stinky cheese in Monroe, Wisconsin, and the Vella Cheese Company resurrected their Mezzo Secco, an Italian-style table cheese that was designed to withstand the California climate before the advent of refrigeration.
After World War II, food production in the US changed drastically. The same science that had been applied to food in order to supply our military with shelf stable, essentially bulletproof food (pun definitely intended!) hit mainstream America in a big time way. Food science, nifty packaging, and standardization won out over a more regional, diversified food supply. Local cheese makers suffered, as food giants like Kraft took over more market share, buying up small producers or simply making it financially impossible for them to compete with such a large, vertically integrated system. The proliferation of food advertising (now on a national scale thanks to television!!) certainly didn’t help the little guys either. Marry all of that with the fact that more and more young people were leaving family farms for jobs in the city and houses in the suburbs, and we ended up with, well, a lot of Kraft American Singles in the fridge.
Fast forward to the seventies and early eighties – The back to the land movement was taking hold in places like California, and Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ was on bookshelves across the country sounding the alarm that there was indeed a dark side to all of that ‘science’ and ‘progress’ – in our food system and elsewhere. This period marked the arrival of the first wave of American artisan cheese pioneers – mostly in the form of women milking goats – Laura Chenel and her chevre, Mary Keene and Humboldt Fog, Alison Hooper and the birth of Vermont Butter and Cheese, and Judy Schad’s Capriole Dairy. These pioneers were literally re-inventing the cheese wheel, one turn at a time, as they did not have access to much in the way of supplies, recipes, or equipment. But gosh darn it they did it, and what they learned they shared with their cheesemaking colleagues, allowing the industry to begin to sprout.
In the nineties, there was another, bigger boom of domestic artisan cheesemaking. Now the country’s appetite for European-style cheeses had been whet, and there was no turning back. In Vermont in particular, there was a mini explosion of sheep dairying thanks to David Major of Vermont Shepherd. He traveled to the Pyrenees region with his family and learned to make the traditional sheeps’ milk cheeses native to that area. His cheese was met with such success, he convinced other farms to begin making sheep cheese (enter Bonnieview Farm and Woodcock Farm) and taught them his methods. In Connecticut, Liz McAlister was getting started with Cato Corner Farm, and Coach Farms and Old Chatham Sheepherding Co were founded in New York.
The early 2000’s brought us some cheese makers that are staples in the Saxelby Cheese selection – Uplands Cheese Company, Jasper Hill Farm, , Blue Ledge Farm, Twig Farm, and a whole host of others! People old and young were turning to cheesemaking (usually as a second career) as a way to make a living while farming and pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle. Mike Gingrich, one of the founders of Uplands Cheese Company had been a software engineer at IBM, Michael Lee of Twig Farm turned from a career in fine art to making fine goat cheese, and Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill Farm was an activist turned business school graduate with a vision to transform the working landscape around Greensboro, Vermont.
Saxelby Cheesemongers opened in 2006 with a selection of about 50 cheeses from 20 or so odd farms. We now work with over 50 producers, and carry over 100 cheeses at any given time, though our selection fluctuates with the seasons. Many of the cheesemakers we work with now were not even around when we started. The American Cheese boom continues to plow ahead, though there is more of a healthy dose of realism about what it is to be a cheesemaker than perhaps there was 10 years ago. Being a cheesemaker is not all bucolic romance – To be a good cheesemaker, one must be a scientist, a mechanic, a meticulous record keeper, a watchful chef, a fastidious cleaner, and perhaps most of all, a good dish washer!
We celebrate the growth and proliferation of
American artisan cheese – thanks in large part to YOU,
the people who love to eat these cheeses!

Cheese + Chocolate = Happiness!

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that make us
happiest – like Saxelby Cheesemongers’
Cheese and Chocolate of the Month Club!
This delicious subscription will treat you to a perfect pairing each month. Saxelby Cheesemongers did some serious R&D with the folks from Rakka Chocolate to find the best flavor combinations of cheese and chocolate. It was hard work, but somebody had to do it. Go on, indulge your sweet (and your savory!) tooth with this one-of-a-kind gift!
1st Month – Vanilla Rooibos Chocolate with Kunik –
A decadent, buttery goat/cow triple creme from Nettle Meadow Farm
2nd Month – Sea Salt Chocolate with Arpeggio –
A grassy, barnyardy washed rind cheese from Robinson Family Farm
3rd Month – Bourbon Cask Aged Chocolate with Bayley Hazen Blue –
A fudgy, sweet & salty blue cheese from Jasper Hill Farm
Send ’em Saxelby’s Cheese of the Month Club – Each and every month, they’ll receive a selection of three half pound wedges of our most delicious and seasonal cheese. Let us know what your cheese lover likes best (or doesn’t like at all!) and we’ll be sure to accommodate your request.
small cheesemonger's choice
includes three months free shipping!
ships in October, January, April and July
SUNDAY 10AM TO 6PM (closed Mondays)
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Cheese Storage! Tips From Your Favorite Mongers…

If you’ve ever found a sad, dried out little piece of cheese in the back of your refrigerator, this newsletter is for you! There are as many theories and methods for keeping cheese fresh and happy as there are cheeses in the world. However, these tried and true methods are our faves, and the most user-friendly. For the love of cheesus, read on and save your delicious cheeses from unintentional fridge abuse!
*Heads up! You can also listen in to Cutting the Curd to hear Anne Saxelby and her cheesy cohorts wax poetic on the virtues (and vices) of different cheese storage techniques.*
Schmancy as it may sound, cheese paper was developed for a reason, and really does the best job of keeping cheese fresh and delicious in your home refrigerator. This special paper is multi-layered… the inner layer is made of breathable polyethelene, and the outer layer is comprised of a thin waxy paper. If your cheese is wrapped up properly in cheese paper, there’s no need to bring any other tools into the mix!
We can’t stress it enough – wrapping your cheese in plastic is a one way ticket to stale and subpar cheese. The fats on the cut surface of cheese interact with the elements present in cling wrap and can impart some not-so-nice flavors. However, if you put a piece of wax paper between your cheese and the cling wrap, you keep the cheese from tasting like plastic AND keep it from drying out. Using wax or parchment paper alone can result in dried out cheese, so we like this combo best!
– FOIL – 
It’s simple, and it’s usually around somewhere in your kitchen. When you don’t have cheese paper or wax paper around, choose foil over plastic wrap any day! The foil does not have the same chemical reaction with the cut surface of the cheese, so it preserves flavor and keeps the cheese from getting too dry.
Stop by Saxelby Cheesemongers this week and take a wedge of something delicious home…
We’ll even wrap it up in schmancy cheese paper!
The Essex Street Market will be open until 8 PM on FRIDAYS
through December to accommodate all of your shopping needs.  Stop in, shop later, and take advantage of free historic market tours, public art initiatives, and much more!

ABC’s of Cheese – C is for Cheddar

This week at Saxelby Cheesemongers, we’re just busting with cheesy activities. Stop by the shop this Friday from 4-7pm for a cheddar tasting with Shelburne Farms. We’ll also be serving up some cheesy goodness at Pickle Day this Sunday 10/4 from 12-5!
Did you know that the word cheddar
is both a noun and a verb? 
This fact, well known amongst nerdy cheesemongers but less so to the general public, is what makes cheddar so distinct from all other cheeses! When cheddar is made, the curds are ‘cheddared’ meaning that they undergo a special process by which the acidity in the curd is amplified. When the cheese is aged, that acidity translates into the signature sharpness that we all love so much!
So how does it work?! In a nutshell, the curd is left to sit on the bottom of the cheese vat for a few minutes in order to let it mat, or stick together. Then the curd is sliced into long rectangular slabs. These slabs are stacked on top of one another to press more moisture out of the curd and to build acidity. Over a period of about 45 minutes, the slabs are flipped and re-stacked multiple times, to ensure that
all are pressed evenly.
Slabs of cheddar curd in vat
Flipping slabs of cheddar
Next, the slabs are put into the cheddar mill (essentially like a wood chipper, only it’s used for cheese!) and are chopped into small, uniform pieces. These little pieces are… (drumroll please…) CHEDDAR CURDS – our all-time favorite snack at Saxelby Cheese!
Milling cheddar curds
Fresh curds waiting to be pressed into molds
The next and final step (if the cheesemakers can resist the temptation to eat them all) is to press all the cheddar curds into blocks and then age the cheese until it reaches the perfect sharpness. Cheddars can be aged for just a few months, or as long as 15 years!! However, our favorite is a two year aged raw milk cheddar from Shelburne Farms – sharp and creamy, with a savory, green onion and grassy finish.
Stop by Saxelby Cheesemongers this Friday from
4-7pm to taste cheddar with the cheesemakers
from Shelburne Farms!
Join Saxelby Cheesemongers and thousands of other pickle fanatics this Sunday on Orchard Street for Pickle Day! We’ll be busting out our Raclette cheese grilling machine to craft some cheese & pickle-icious snacks! Don’t miss it! As the postcards say… ‘It’s kind of a big dill.’

The Season’s Best Cheeses: La Creme de La Cave and Meadowood Farms Cheese

As we head into fall at Saxelby Cheesemongers, we are literally inundated with the largest variety of cheeses of the entire year – the aged goats and sheep are mature and delicious, the soft sheeps’ milk cheeses are at their peak, and some special extra aged cows’ milk cheeses are being released from the caves for us to savor and enjoy! This week’s cheesy missive is devoted to the cheeses of the moment… We’ve crafted two sensational collections for you to savor, so order today & taste for yourself!
We’ve rounded up three of our favorite cheeses – one cow, one sheep, and one goat – to represent the best of the season and to create a perfect cheese plate. These rare and hard to find cheeses are the pride of Saxelby Cheesemongers’ fall lineup. The variety of milks, textures, and flavors will have your tastebuds reeling with happiness!
Contains 1.5lb of cheese. 
Serves 10-12 people.
Strawbridge – a buttery and gooey sheeps’ milk cheese from Meadowood Farms that is literally like sheeps’ milk gelato with a rind. (no we’re not kidding…) Marieke Super Gouda – a firm, caramelly aged cows’ milk gouda from Holland’s Family Cheese. These wheels have been set aside for Saxelby and aged until 18-24 months old. The extra aging gives them a bold, sweet flavor and crystalline crunch. Goat Tomme – a musky, vegetal tomme from Twig Farm in Vermont. These prized wheels are hard to come by – made in small batches by cheesemaker Michael Lee and aged until covered with a velveteen gray rind and bursting with goaty goodness.
This one’s for all you sheep cheese lovers out there – A trio of cheeses from Meadowood Farms that’s a tour de force of ovine deliciousness. These cheeses are all ripe and ready to go… And it would behoove you (sheep pun definitely intended) to act soon! Strawbridge will be out of season in just two short weeks, and the Ledyard season will finish at the end of October.
Contains three whole wheels of cheese for total

of approx 2lbs.
Strawbridge – a buttery and gooey sheeps’ milk cheese that is literally like sheeps’ milk gelato with a rind. Ledyard – a soft bloomy rinded beauty wrapped in a beer-soaked grape leaf. Think Banon from Upstate NY… The grape leaves are harvested by cheesemaker Veronica Pedraza and then soaked in Deep Purple, a hefeweizen brewed with local concord grapes from nearby Empire Brewing Co. The final fromage is Rippleton – a one pound wheel of supple sheeps’ milk cheese that is washed with barely fermented beer from Empire. The result is a succulent and pungent wheel of cheese that tastes of barnyard and smokey bacon!
Send ’em Saxelby’s Cheese of the Month Club – Each and every month, they’ll receive a selection of three half pound wedges of our most delicious and seasonal cheese. Let us know what your cheese lover likes best (or doesn’t like at all!) and we’ll be sure to accommodate your request.
small cheesemonger's choice
includes three months free shipping!
ships in October, January, April and July