Cheesemaker of the Week: Bleu Mont Dairy

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The Farm and Sustainability

Bleu Mont Dairy is part of a farmcommitted to sustainable agriculture and renewable energy. The farm sits atop a ridge near Blue Mounds State Park in the picturesque driftless region of southern Wisconsin. Even from a distance, the main power source — a 10kw wind generator — can be spotted above the treetops. A long driveway leads past a field of rotational organic gardens up to the passive solar home, straw bale greenhouse/cave, and orchard. Besides assorted organic cheeses, they grow in-season garlic and asparagus.

Making Original Cheeses

Bleu Mont Dairy began over 20 years ago with an array of delicious Swiss-style cheeses, but in the last several years, Willi has started to develop a line of original artisan cheeses.

In 2003, Willi built a straw bale “cave” that includes an aging room lined with cedar boards. The thick straw walls of the cave help Willi control its humidity and temperature, critical components of aging. Because of his ability to control temperature and humidity, he can conduct cheese experiments. That helps him learn what works and doesn’t as he develops new cheeses.

With help from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Dairy Research, Willi traveled to England to learn from their cheddar artisans. He brought back new (old) techniques that he learned there, and he is now figuring out how to use those practices in his experiments with cheeses.

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