Meadow Creek Dairy in Galax has brought home another award from the American Cheese Society competition, an annual, nationwide contest that is in its 26th year.
This year, the dairy’s best-selling cheese, Grayson, placed second in the Washed Rind Cheese Category. Just what is a washed rind cheese, you are probably asking? Well, these are cheeses that are literally washed down, usually with a saltwater brine but sometimes with such liquids as beer, brandy, or wine, on a regular basis throughout the aging process.
Keeping the surface of the cheese wheels wet allows a beneficial bacteria called b-linens, or brevibacterium linens, to multiply across that surface. But since I am no expert, here’s more information from the American Cheese Society:
“Washed rind” is used to describe those cheeses that are surface-ripened by washing the cheese throughout the ripening/aging process with brine, beer, wine, brandy, or a mixture of ingredients, which encourages the growth of bacteria. The exterior rind of washed rind cheeses may vary from bright orange to brown, with flavor and aroma profiles that are quite pungent, yet the interior of these cheeses is most often semi-soft and, sometimes, very creamy. Washed rind cheeses may be made from both pasteurized and raw milk, depending on the style of the cheese and the cheesemaker producing them. Cheeses in this category include some tomme-style cheeses, triple-crème, and semi-soft cheeses, similar to Epoisses, Livarot and Taleggio.
Grayson has been growing into quite the popular little cheese over the past few years. Recently, it was featured in a book called “The Cheese Chronicles” by Liz Thorpe, which was in turn featured in the current issue of Town & Country Magazine and will appear in the September issue of Martha Stewart Living.
Last year, Grayson won first place in the Farmstead Cheese category of the American Cheese Society contest and placed second in Best in Show, which is a big honor. In case you’re curious, the winner for Best in Show this year was Rogue River Blue, made by Rogue Creamery in Oregon.
To check out the entire list of winners, click here. To learn more about Meadow Creek Dairy cheeses, which are available for purchase at Roanoke Natural Foods in Roanoke and Eats Natural Foods in Blacksburg, click here. If you haven’t tried them, you really should. They’re killer good.