The first step to making our delicious cheese is fresh goat milk. Goats are milk twice daily, in a milking parlour. We source the milk for our cheese from goats raised in the beautiful Fraser Valley.
The milk is pumped into a small vat in the processing room. Before we use the milk, it is pasteurized. This is done by gently heating the milk to 65°C or 150°F for 30 minutes . This temperature will kill the negative bacteria while preserving most of the enzymes which help us digest the milk. All milk in Canada must be pasteurized before sale to the public. Once the milk is pasteurized it must be cooled down to the desired temperature.
Warm milk! If the milk is to cold the bacteria will grow much slower. Different bacteria like different temperatures. The ones that make the best flavour for cheese need the milk warm. Our cheeses start anywhere from 80 – 100° F depending on the type of cheese. Into the warm milk a starter bacteria and rennet* are added. It is stirred well and left to rest while the flavours begin to grow!
*What is rennet you ask? Rennet is an enzyme that assists in the digestion of milk causing it to gel or “coagulate”. It was first discovered when storing milk in the stomach of a young milk-fed kid, calf or lamb, it would sometimes curdle. For centuries, people would use these stomachs to purposely curdle milk to make cheese. Recent discovery has found the same enzyme in a type of fungus. Now widely used as an alternative and “vegetable” based rennet referred to as Microbial Enzyme. This is the rennet we use.
When the cheese-maker decides the curd insufficiently set he cuts it into small pieces to allow the whey to separate out, followed by a resting time so the curds can heal. Most types of cheese require a small increase in temperature, the curds are cooked and gently stirred.
Once the cheese-maker decides the curds are ready, they are scooped into cheese moulds; from small (50gm) to large (4.5kg).
At this point some cheeses are pressed but not all. Only three of our cheeses are actually pressed with weights the others are just left to set naturally. The cheeses in the moulds are left on draining racks so the whey can drain off.
All cheese needs salt to help it last; the salt slows the growth of the bacteria and adds to the flavour. Some cheeses have salt added to the curd before moulding and some are rubbed with salt on the outside, but most are brined. Brining is soaking in a salt water bath. While the cheese soaks the salt is adsorbed into the cheese.
Some cheese is best fresh, some cheese is best after a few years or more. Our freshest cheese is ready in just 1 week. While our oldest cheeses are aged for a min of 1 year, but we often have cheese over 2 years of age. Our oldest cheese to date is 10 years old!
Once the cheese is ready it is cut and packed for market and sent out to stores.