American Cheese Month

Autumn on the Hudson Frederic Edwin Church 300x197 American Cheese Month

There was a time not too long ago that if you put those first two words together – American Cheese – it suggested something else: processed cheese. Today, however, we can take great pride in artisan cheeses produced in the United States. The quality of American cheeses has grown rapidly, to the point that American Cheese suggests something else entirely today. In some ways it was the processed cheeses themselves that helped improve overall quality of our cheeses. They improved because Americans demanded better. With regard to processed cheeses, I have often stated that there are far worse foods you can choose.

As the weather turns cooler and we snuggle together a little more closely, cheese becomes especially appealing. I know of no other food that typifies romance better than cheese. Some would say chocolate perhaps, which has its place too. Yet cheese is the food that is more closely associated with the fall than any other. October is the month when there is a greater diversity of cheese types available in top form. I have written about this before. Should you need a refresher please read on.

Why October?

For the cheeses that require less aging, the best would have been produced during the warmer months, which in case you forgot, September is one of those. For the cheeses which require a little more aging the ones produced at the beginning of the northern hemisphere’s natural lactation cycles – late winter, these would have received sufficient aging so that they are now coming into their primes. The more aged cheeses requiring over a year of curing, those that were produced this time in 2011, have reached their optimal levels of ripeness.

There is only a minor drop-off of diversity available in November. Some of those very young and tender cheeses become a little scarce. Kind of like fresh tomatoes, you can still find them but fewer of the best. Up until mid-September many people in the northern hemisphere simply do not have the bigger appetites that come along with the arrival of chillier nights. Cheesemakers look forward to this time of year; last October was a long time ago.

Along with our fall cheeses, many of us better appreciate beers or Scotch, even Cider. Through the remainder of this month we have three classes focused on those and the cheeses that pair best with those beverages: Cider, with Eleanor Leger – owner/cider maker for Eden with our Fromagère Erin Hedley; Scotch and Microbrews, with Candela Prol, our expert on most every type of beverage, as well as an expert on October cheeses.

Max McCalman

Spread the curd!
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