For the love of cheeses
IT'S the stuff cheese makers dream about - a ready supply of top quality milk fresh from your own herd of cows, and a new cheese room, purpose built for creating your cheesy masterpieces.
Twelve months of hard work have turned that dream into reality for local cheese maker Deb Allard and her husband Jim, who have just finished building a custom-made dairy - complete with cheese making facilities for Deb's business, Cheeses Loves You - on their Burringbar property.
The project is more than a new business for the couple; it's the revival of a family dairying tradition that stretches back to 1895, when Jim's great grandfather bought the property. It was used as a dairy farm right up until 1986, when illness forced Jim's father out of dairying.
They now have a growing herd of jersey cows are milked daily, supplying fresh milk for Deb's artisan farmhouse cheeses, with extra milk going to local co-operative, Norco.
Deb says most dairy farmers choose friesians because they produce a greater volume of milk, but the quality of jersey milk is superior for making cheese. It's higher in fat and protein, and full of healthy bacteria.
"Jersey milk is outstanding. It has a really great pH. It's already full of activity and the bacterias I add to it just enhance it,” she said.
Deb sells her cheeses at the local farmers markets - her range includes cottage cheese, ricotta, haloumi, feta, brie, camembert, blue and romano, as well as other dairy products like kefir, cultured butter and yoghurt.
A cheese maker for more than a decade, she is well known for her cheese making classes and has travelled widely to learn her craft, spending time with expert cheese-makers from all over the world.
Deb says because her cheeses are small batch and additive free, they vary in flavour throughout the year and are quite different from the stock standard cheeses sold at the supermarket. Mass produced cheeses usually contain some form of preservatives or additives to extend their shelf life, but the long use-by date often comes at the expense of character and flavour.
"It really affects the quality of cheese,” she said.
Find Cheeses Loves You at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday.