Boston Post Dairy is a pretty busy place, between keeping up with the demand of cheesemaking, attending and winning awards at the American Cheese festival, participating in Open Farm Week and getting ready for the Vermont Cheese Festival, there is never a dull moment. So we feel very lucky that Anne Doe was able to take the time out of her schedule to chat with us about cheesemaking at Boston Post Dairy.
How did Boston Post Dairy get started in cheesemaking?
Susan was making goat milk soap and I was doing specialty maple products out of our home kitchens and attending farmers markets, and craft shows. We even held our own craft show. Our parents, Robert & Gisele attended one of the events and couldn’t believe the great turn out. Dad said, “you girls need a store!” We just smiled. A few years later our parents purchased the Boston Post Dairy and gifted the barn and grazing fields to us. We had a meeting to discuss how to make the business profitable since we knew we would need more than the soap and maple products to run a store. Our sister, Theresa, had goats, so we decided we should make goat milk cheeses. Susan and I attended the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheeses at UVM to learn the process. Thus began our cheese making career! We started making Chevres, and took a medal for our Onion Dill Chevre the very first year we made cheese. We started making hard cheeses in the fall of 2011, taking our first medal in 2012 with our Eleven Brothers Goat milk cheese!
Do you have a favorite cheese?
Anne’s favorite is Très Bonne (this is a goat milk gouda style cheese). Cute little story on how Très Bonne got its name. We were tasting our very first batch, and we kept saying this is good, this is very good! Our mom was working in the soap room and said in French, c’est Très Bonne! “French for Very good!”, and that’s what we named it! My favorite is Eleven Brothers (a washed rind Tomé style cheese). This was our first hard cheese, and our top seller, with Très Bonne close behind. We named it Eleven brothers, because we have eleven brothers, and that was hard!!! So was making our first hard cheese, they all turned out great, the brothers, and the cheese so we named it Eleven Brothers.
What is a typical day of cheesemaking?
Typical Cheese day, my niece, Sally, and I arrive at 5 am, to pump the milk from the barn to the cheese plant. I take care of all the steps from there; pasteurizing, adding cultures, adding rennet, cutting, cooking the cheese. Patty and usually one of my nieces will help to hoop the cheese. We then turn the cheese in the molds and press it. The clean up process is usually done by 4 pm. The cheese is turned 5 times, which requires Patty to come back at 7 pm, to do the evening flip. The following day the cheese is removed from the molds and brined. Did you know cheese making is around 70-75% cleaning and sanitizing?!
What comes first when developing a new cheese?
I went to a class that said in order to make a good cheese, it first has to be something you yourself like! We like to kick ideas back and forth when developing a new cheese. When we came up with the recipe for Gisele, we were looking at Appenzeller cheeses. I knew I couldn’t make the same cheese since it was Country and cow specific. However, we came up with a very tasty Alpine cheese, that is finished with a spiced Apple Cider wash. It is a blend of 80% Cows milk & 20% Goats milk. We named it after our Mom, who is always helping behind the scenes but doesn’t want any recognition, so we named a cheese after her, and created a pink label, which is her favorite color!
What is one of the most challenging aspects of being a cheesemaker?
For us in Enosburg Falls, Vermont: distribution. Also, making cheese is very labor intensive. It’s a good work out. When we make curds, we call it our “curdio” workout. ;-)
Which Vermont cheesemakers do you find inspiration from?
I couldn’t name just one cheesemaker. ALL cheesemakers are different and each have their own specific ideas and processes. I have never met a cheesemaker who I didn’t learn something from!!
What is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a cheesemaker in Vermont?
Our parents taught us that if we put our mind to it, we could do anything! We had no idea what we were doing when we decided to make cheese. We took the classes, 2008-2009, then the goats started kidding in March 2010. We didn’t have the cultures, we didn’t have the right cheesecloth, we just kept going forward, one slow step at a time. We wondered how our cheeses would compare to all the other wonderful artisan cheesemakers, so then we decided to enter our cheese in competitions! We loved the fact that the judges put comments on the scoring sheets. That helped us take a good cheese, to a great cheese! We are honored and humbled to be included among all the great Vermont Cheesemakers!
Ann and her sister, Susan Blouin, recently came in second in the 2018 world championships for their Tres Bonne Reserve. Be sure to say hello to Susan and Ann at the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival and visit their store, which is open year round in Enosburg Falls.