Cheese, yum! There are few greater culinary pleasures than a really good artisanal cheese served with a nutty cracker and a glass of wine. Anywhere I go I look for local cheeses. So it was with great delight that I sampled and then fell in love with Milkhouse Farm and Diary sheep cheeses, made in Montague. Not only are these absolutely delightful cheeses to serve with bread, crackers or add to your favourite soup, salad or potatoes, they’re easier to digest. “A lot of people find it easier to digest; the sugars are different, so it’s not lactose free just easier to digest,” says Caitlyn White, who with her husband Kyle is a cheese maker at Milkhouse Farm and Dairy. Sheep milk has all the proteins and sugars found in other milks but in a form that’s easier on the human gut. There are two proteins in milk – whey protein and casein protein. “Sheep cheese, made of the main protein, casein, is acceptable to almost all who cannot tolerate cow or goat milk products” says the British Sheep Dairy Association’s website.
So if you haven’t been enjoying dairy products for a while it’s worth giving sheep cheese a try. Besides it’s much higher in calcium, zinc, magnesium as well as B-12 and B-6 vitamins. Yay! It’s also sweeter with a higher fat content than other milks so it makes a really succulent cheese. A lot of you got stuck on the ‘higher fat’ bit, but don’t, because while it is higher in saturated fat it’s also rich in Omega-3 fatty acidlinked to reducing high blood cholesterol. Besides we all know that a bit of fat makes for a tasty treat! “At the moment we make two cheeses, the Tomme and a Feta, but we’re always working on new recipes and we’d like to get to four or five cheeses,” says White. It seems oddly fitting that the origins of both these cheeses stretch back into antiquity. In fact traditional feta is made from sheep cheese not cow or goat.
The Milkhouse Tomme takes a while to make, and is a rich, firm cheese with a natural edible rind, it works well in many recipes that call for melted cheese or with potatoes. “On a cheese making day, it takes about six hours to make the Tomme cheese, then it goes into the brine for 24 hours and then it dries over another 24 hours more or less, then it goes into the aging cave for 90 days,” says White.
I love it on it’s own with a rich red wine or melted in baked potatoes. There are also a few recipes for the Tomme on the Milkhouse website. The Milkhouse Feta is a traditional salty creamy feta that’s great on salads, pizza, potatoes, with roasted vegetables or in scones.
If you’ve never tried sheep cheese, try these at least once. You can purchase the cheese directly from the farm on Matheson Drive, but please contact the Whites first through their website www.milkhouse.ca
Story by By Howaida Sorour-Roberts, Hometown News, courtesy of the Town of Smiths Falls