See you at the Farmers Market
This article by Sue was published in the Record-Eagle’s “Momentum ’23” special publication. Here’s an excerpt:
Our beautiful Michigan Spring has arrived, and that means that soon our area farmers markets will be opening. There are local farmers markets every day of the week where we live, and they benefit our community in myriad ways. I couldn’t think of somewhere I’d rather be than a local farmers market on a spring, summer or autumn morning.
The colorful fruits, vegetables and flowers, the smells of freshly baked breads and treats, and the whole atmosphere of a market just feels good. There is a bit of excitement in their air on market days, like opening up a shop or raising the blinds on a window, sweeping the doorstep and turning on the ‘OPEN’ sign. We are excited to meet our customers, and want our tables to look as appealing and bountiful as we can make them. We take great pride in our products and want to offer you our best.
When I began my cheese company 11 years ago, there were only two artisanal cheese producers in our area. That number has grown, and now several more have gotten started, offering excellent locally made products.
Cheese-making is complicated. There isn’t a set, dependable path to learning the craft. Someone usually begins by working at a dairy, apprenticing, or trying their hand at home. MSU offers courses for beginner cheesemakers, but all of the makers I knew came by their skills in a variety of ways.
Our local cheese producers offer a wide variety of cheeses. Aged cow’s milk cheeses, fresh and aged goat’s cheeses, fresh mozzarella, cheese curds, ice cream and butter — we’ve got it all!
More than the type of milk a cheesemaker works with, it’s the style of cheese they produce that dictates which direction into cheesemaking they will follow. It is true that any type of cheese can be made from any type of milk.
However, the skills needed to master creating aged cheese differs greatly from those needed to understand and make fresh cheeses. Additionally, dairy products such as yogurt, mozzarella or ice cream all have their own set of disciplines a maker needs to learn. I think a makers first customer must be themselves.
My favorite cheeses were always aged, cow’s milk varieties, so that’s what I chose to produce. Someone recently asked if I would make them some Muenster cheese, and I frequently get requests to make blue cheese. I don’t make them because while I know how to make cheese, I don’t specialize in those varieties, so I wouldn’t trust the outcome.
As a cheesemaker, I produce my product year-round. Cheese has a seasonality to it, and the milk used for cheese production also changes with the seasons.
Read much more at the Record-Eagle & check our Where to Buy page for farmers markets where you can find Boss Mouse this spring & summer!