Bodalla Dairy’s Artisan Cheeses.
Our artisan cheese-maker Lucasz Klekowski has just been honoured with an invitation to be a judge at the prestigious Dairy Industry Association of Australia’s NSW product competition in Sydney this April.
He will be on the team judging several categories: milks, flavoured milks, cheddar, other cheeses, dips and yoghurts. Winning an award at this event REALLY counts, and ensures commercial recognition.
So what is an artisanal cheese-maker?
One who makes hand-made cheeses, in small batches, with traditional old-fashioned methods.
The reason cheese-makers bother with this time-consuming effort is because the results are worth it with more complex flavours and interesting textures.
This feeds the current trend of cheese eaters the world over who want palate pleasing foods in preference to the blandness of mass produced product.
Thankfully, Australians are also looking, and, as always, are happy to try tastes which are new and different.
With artisan cheeses, every product is unique, still alive with enzymes and health promotion bacteria which cause the cheese to subtly change every day.
For makers and eaters, artisan cheeses are an active world, with nice surprises constantly coming onto the market as results of experimentation.
At Bodalla Dairy we are SO lucky to have an artisan cheese maker who likes standing over a cheese vat for sometimes eight hours a day, manipulating flavours and controlling fermentation speeds to achieve delicious results.
“I try to make magic with milk” is the way Lukasz Klekowski describes his vocation.
Lukasz came from Poland in 2011. “And I am still getting to know Australian milk, in particular Bodalla milk and how it changes with the seasons and the seasonal feeding patterns. All very different to situations in Poland.”
Cheese making is like wine-making; the local soil type and the weather are all variables that affect the creative process. And milk is a product of the green grass the cows ate THAT day. Perhaps the next day, the herd may change paddock, eat different pastures, and the resulting milk will behave differently when the cultures and rennet are added.
So there lies the challenge! Lots of trial. Lots of small adjustments. Lots of patience! Those cheese-makers who work in modern mass production factories often spend their day pressing buttons till the perfectly predicable result appears.
Artisan cheese makers on the other hand have their creative talents constantly tested. They have to rely on their knowledge of the science behind the process, and simple tools like hand-held ph meters and temperature probes.
Lukasz explained; “I respect milk, but it can play tricky. We treat it very carefully, processing it the minimal required temp/time so it remains alive with good bacteria. That way it stays close to its natural state”.
“We do low temperature batch pasteurisation. No hot pipes, extreme pressures (as required for homogenisation) or high speed spinning (as required for cream separation.) These harsh treatments kind of “kill” milk giving it the big advantage of a longer shelf life.”
Lukasz believes; “Consumers want wholefoods, not highly processed products. The more natural the molecular structure of a food, the easier it is to digest.”
Bodalla’s cheese has no additives, preservatives, nothing which is not natural. Our Bush Tucker range of cheeses has only native plants and seeds included. They are Australia’s natural superfoods, nutrient rich.”
Lukasz is most proud of his soft cheeses, haloumi, tome style cheeses, washed rinds and (our runaway success!) camemberts.
These specialist cheeses are available through our on-site tasting and sales area in our café The Bodalla Dairy Shed. And soon on-line.
With Lucasz’s increasing confidence and the complements he is receiving form respected industry leaders, production will increase making these products more widely available.
Most artisan cheeses in Australia are versions of traditional cheeses from Europe. But, of course, they are not the same. We are having fun choosing new names. Our camembert style cheese is white mould and wrapped in silver paper. It is called Moonshine. Its mate is a washed rind with orangey rind and is wrapped in gold paper and called Sunshine.
As yet we haven’t picked a name for our Fetta-like cheese, our Haloumi-like cheese and our ricotta-like cheeses. The quark-like fresh cheese is White Velvet and that is what its’ mouth feel confirms.
If you have any suggestions for the missing names, let us know