5 Surprising Things About Fall & Winter Cheese

Photo by Anna Voloshyna

1. Spring isn’t always the best season for dairy. Enter fall & winter cheese.

Spring and summer are lovely. Bouncing, cuddly goats are born in the spring, and summer guarantees ample wildflowers for grazing animals, translating to bright flavors in fresh cheeses, but fall & winter cheeses are delicious too! In fact, fall and winter is the best time to eat aged cheeses that are made from delicious spring and summer milk. 

 

Irish cow, future milkers

2. Count backwards to revel in beautiful spring & summer milk.

That delicious, blessed milk of animals grazing on spring and summer mustard flowers and rye grasses? Much of it gets siphoned into wheels that are ready now! If a cheese made from June milk is aged 6 months, it’s ready to eat in November. And bonus-by November those delicious herbal notes and pasture flavors will have concentrated, meaning you’ll amped up field flavor. Did you know that was a thing?

To find an aged cheese in November that’s a perfect example of June’s milk, ask your cheesemonger for a wedge made from the milk of grass-fed animals that is 6 months old. Just a few examples of fantastic cheeses whose ages can be counted backwards are: PennyRoyal’s Boont Corner Vintage, La Dama Sagrada, and, Pleasant Ridge Reserve.

 

Anna’s Khachapuri! 

From Tia Keena’s Melt, Stretch, & Sizzle

3. This season’s cheeses are made to melt.

Remember those fresh mozzarellas and fromage blancs charming your summery heart that were super easy to just slice and toss in your seasonal salads? Well, aged fall and winter cheeses are perfect for the season too because they shine either on a cheese plate, or, when you turn the oven on. Mozzarella, chevre, and fromage blanc don’t melt, but Comté does! It’s melty cheese season time!

See Melt, Stretch & Sizzle by Tia Keenan (photo above from her book), and this post on Anna’s Georgian Khachapuri.

 

Photo by Miss Cheesemonger

4. Fall and winter are perfect seasons to make your own fresh, quick cheeses.

I actually discourage some of my students to make fresh cheeses like chèvre or fromage blanc in the summer. Why? It’s too flipping hot. Milk that’s culturing overnight needs to be stay between 60-80 degrees. Too cold, and the culturing culture get lazy and won’t ferment the lactose. Too hot and the cultures overeat or malfunction (life’s hard for bacteria!). So if you live like me in the Bay Area, where most people don’t have air-conditioning, or, your house doesn’t keep at a constantly moderate temperature during the summer, wait until fall or winter to make easy cheeses that culture overnight (most people keep their houses at at least 60 degrees in the winter so the milk stays happier then). Here’s an easy chèvre recipe from Splendid Table.

 

Landmark Creamery’s Chandoka, with raspberries and white chocolate.

5. Like a five-year old dressed in a ninja outfit on October 31st, cheese loves Halloween candy. And other wintery holidays, too.

I mean, cheese makes a perfect dessert (or breakfast, or lunch, or dinner) any time, but cheese excels in blustery weather. You can leave it out to come to room temperature without worrying about it getting too warm, and… it loves already-made autumn and winter treats! Like Halloween candy and Christmas panforte! Really. Put a platter of cheese out for dessert with seasonal candies and treats and prepare to blow your guests mind.

 

This fall and winter, try a little something different, like serving cheese with seasonal sweets, or making your own chèvre or fromage blanc. And though it may seem a contradiction, enjoy summer milk in aged cheeses while you watch snowflakes fall out your window.

Then take a picture and send it to me, because I like in the Bay Area and haven’t been in snow in over a year.