The Hippo


Oct 16, 2019








Cheeses fill the cave at Temple-Wilton Farm. Emelia Attridge photo.

Got cheese?

Temple-Wilton Community Farm cheese is available at the farm (195 Isaac Frye Hwy., Wilton), at Green Grocers in Peterborough, and at the Bedford Farmers Market on Tuesdays, from 3 to 6 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 190 Meetinghouse Road, Bedford. Also check out Benedikt Dairy in Goffstown, Connolly Bros. Farm in Temple, and Sunnyfield Farm in Peterborough.

Giving cheese a chance
Granite State dairy farmers collaborate


 Benjamin Jonas Meier knows every single wheel of cheese in the cave (or cellar) at The Temple-Wilton Community Farm. 

The cave, a refrigerated storage room where the cheese ages, is lined with bright yellow wheels of cheddars, bleu cheeses, Alpine-style cheeses and other varieties. But only two thirds of the cheese in the cave is made from the Temple-Wilton cows’ milk. Meier points out the bright yellow, almost goldenrod colored cheeses made with dairy from Benedikt Dairy in Goffstown. There are also cheeses from Connolly Brothers in Temple and Sunnyfield Farm in Peterborough.
“For me as a cheesemaker, it’s important. I like to support other farmers,” Meier said. “To make cheese for other farms it started in January this year, so it’s very new.”
The three dairy farmers send milk to Meier at Temple-Wilton, where he makes and ages the cheese for them. It’s part of a recent trend where local farmers in New Hampshire are collaborating, although Meier said he doesn’t know quite when that started. He’s passionate about cheese-making, so it only made sense to support other local dairy farmers.
“I think that definitely that’s the future, because there’s no way that Max [Benedikt] could make cheese. To have the facility to learn how to make good cheese, it’s difficult. I think it’s better to help each other out. Some farms specialize some things,” he said. “One very important point is ... the source of the milk. And that the cheese itself, it cannot be a huge production; otherwise it loses out on the value of the cheese.”
Meier grew up in the country in Germany, and during vacations, he’d work at dairy farms in Switzerland. There, he said, there are many very small farms unlike the large-scale farming industry in America.
“Not every small farm can make cheese, so they have maybe three villages or more, [and] they have one cheesemaker and he makes cheese for all these farms together,” he said. “There is only right now one difference, and that is in Switzerland they would definitely mix the milk. … But right now, all these farms ... they want to have their own cheese, made with their own milk. So right now I’m doing that for them.”
Meier said that kind of model would work well for the small dairy farms in New Hampshire and that it might be possible for one cheesemaker to combine a whole area of cheesemaking in the Monadnock region or southern New Hampshire.
“I see also the potential that we could be much more sustainable in New Hampshire. That means that people here on this hill, they could buy our cheese,” he said. “[Then] there’s not so much a need to buy the cheese from Vermont. We could support our cheese for our people.”
Meier began making cheese at Temple-Wilton four years ago. There was excess milk, so the farmers built the cheese-making facility connected to the milking room. 
There are 12 kinds of cheese at Temple-Wilton, including feta, havarti and Gruyere. The milk comes from the cows who graze day and night in the field. After the milk is collected, it’s put into a tank and heated to a certain temperature (each type of cheese has a specific temperature and specific processes). Culture is added to the tank to eat the sugar and transform it into acid. After “cooking” the milk and cutting the curds, Meier separates the curds and whey. The curds are molded into a wheel and given a salt brine. Then the cheese is ready for aging and stored in the cave for at least 60 days. The rinds are washed regularly while aging.
“You have to be precise in cheesemaking; otherwise the cheese is not the same the next time,” Meier said. 
There are other factors that contribute to the cheesemaking process, like the cow’s diet (a diet of grass results in a yellow cheese; a diet of more hay than grass means whiter cheese). Meier also adds garlic or dill to the curds to create new flavors.
“I think there is the possibility to get something like Cabot, but not so big,” he said. “Cabot, they are a huge operation. [It’s] whole cheese-making process, except one step in the cheddar, is done with robots. I think that’s the difference. You see when I go in my cave, there is not one cheese I don’t know. Every cheese, I have made. I’ve been taking care of it for a half a year or a year, and then I sell it. So there’s much more love in it.” 
As seen in the July 31, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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