Mondays’ Facebook Cheese Study Group Cheese of the Day Presentation will be split between Bloomy rind style cheeses and cheddars. Last week I presented Beecher’s Flagsheep and Flagship Cheddars. Today I would like to introduce you to an Indiana Artisan Cheese made by one of the true “Ladies of Cheese”: Judith Schad and her Capriole Goat Cheese: Wabash Cannonball.
In 1976, Judith and her husband, Larry, decided to move from the city to “the country” with their three young children. They chose farmland in Southern Indiana, just a few miles north of Louisville, Kentucky. In doing a title search of the property, they discovered that the property had been owned by Larry’s great, great grandfather. The Schads decided to build their log cabin on the exact location of his ancestors’ home.
The farm began as a way to slow down life and teach their children about sustainability: how important “the land” is in living a healthy, un-processed life. Judy bought a milking cow, she added goats and began making cheese for the family and friends. The mischievous, fun personality of the goats touched Judy and over time she grew her healthy herd of Alpine, Saanen and Nubian breeds. And she found herself with a boatload of milk… as so many of “The Ladies of Cheese” (along with Judy, these ladies include Mary Keehn, Allison Hooper, Laura Chenel and Sally Jackson) who started the artisan cheese movement in the late 70’s and early 80’s, she began making goat cheese without a business plan, without formal training; following her instincts. Two things happened… she loved making cheese and she was really good at it.
In chatting online with Judy today, she shared the first time she attended the American Cheese Society Conference in 1988, still in its infancy:
“Mary (Keehn) and I attended together for the first time in 1988 at Rutgers. It was a really small conference with John Greely, Gerd Stern, George Haenlein, Ari (Weinzweig), and just a handful of cheeses and cheesemakers—including Bob and Letty Kilmoyer and Paula Lambert.”
In 1995, the ACS recognized Judy’s labor, passion and accomplishments when it chose Wabash Cannonball as its Best of Show. What a moment!! In addition to the many awards her cheeses have garnered over the years, she was also inducted into the prestigious Guilde Internationale des Fromagers.
The first professional milking parlor and cheesemaking facility in one of their barns was bank-rolled by the Schads with the results giving Judy a salary for her efforts.
Over the years the herd grew to 500 and at that point, Judy had to make a hard decision; to sell the herd in order to grow her business. Demand for her award-winning cheeses was exceeding production abilities due to limitations of geography and proper space for a larger,healthy herd. (I don’t remember where I read about this time in her cheese life and even searching online I couldn’t locate it, but selling her herd was an emotional moment for Judy. Early on she had brought the kids into the house and let them sleep in the bedroom; they had become family. After selling the herd, she stayed away from their barn(s); the loss was too great.)
Now she makes her cheeses buying milk from the farmer who bought her herd and a few other Amish farmers that live near her farm.
As I mentioned above, every other Monday I will be discussing bloomy rind cheeses. In researching this style, I discovered that there are several names for this style: bloomy, surface-ripened or soft-ripened. I decided to go with “bloomy” because when you look at the rind under a microscope, the white, fluffy mold resembles a field of white flowers in full bloom.
Wabash Cannonball, created by Judy in 1992, is a small round 3 ounce ball of pasteurized goat’s milk cheese dusted with ash and geotrichum mold. A few days into ripening the ash begins peeking out of the white rind that is thin and just forming. The geotrichum rind begins its wrinkly goodness at about three weeks and as the cheese ages, the paste goes from creamy and gooey to a dense and drier paste which crumbles easily. (Judy uses a traditional, animal rennet to coagulate the milk.)
I first tasted Wabash Cannonball in 2014 at the Sacramento ACS Conference and fell in love with it. Sadly, here in the wilds of Northeast Georgia it is nowhere to be found. I’m hoping to find it this July in Denver when we meet for the ACS Conference, “Cheese with Altitude”.
Capriole and Wabash Cannonball is mentioned on pages 23 and 116 of The Oxford Companion to Cheese.
And if you want to know more about the name, check out this wikipedia article about the song: Wabash Cannonball.
Our Facebook Cheese Study Group is raising funds to send worthy ACS CCP exam® candidates and ACS CCPs® who want to attend the 2017 ACS Conference in Denver, Cheese With Altitude. You can apply for a scholarship by clicking here and you can contribute to the scholarship fund by clicking here. All monies raised (withe the exception of the fees charged by GoFundMe) go to the winners of the scholarship. everyone involved in the scholarship efforts is donating their time and receiving NO fees or monetary compensation… just the feeling of helping those who need our help. Complete rules and information can be found here.