Last year on Salt Spring Island at the weekend farmer’s market, I came across Salt Spring Island Cheese Company. It was so memorable that I went on a mission this year to locate the farm and see what I could learn.
Salt Spring Island Cheese is family-run, founded in 1996 by David and Nancy Wood, who wanted to begin living a sustainable farm family lifestyle after they moved to Salt Spring Island from Ontario. One of their sons, Daniel Wood, whose first job was milking sheep on the farm at 6 a.m. as a teen, showed me the property. We walked around the small, charming farm, past the goat petting area and through the quaint shop, where one can sample all the cheeses made on site, to the actual cheese-making area, eventually ending up outside in the seated garden area where we lunched on our finds.
The cheese that was being made while I was there was Romelia, and Daniel kindly offered a tutorial on how it’s made. “We begin with 100 per cent goat milk and we pasteurize it. A bacterial culture and rennet are added as soon as the milk is cooled, and it sits for approximately an hour to firm up. The curd is then cut and stirred vigorously to expel whey, and heated to expel more whey again. Then, it is then scooped into basket moulds and turned half a dozen times over three to four hours to give it the right shape. The following day it is put in a rich brine bath for an hour to add salt. After, it is washed in a mild brine and a second bacterial culture called Brevibacterium linens (or B.Linens) twice per week for around six weeks, after which it is packaged by hand, like all of our cheeses, and is ready to be sold.”
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