By MADELINE HUGHES
Maddy Born swaps her shoes for Crocs, puts on an apron and hairnet, scrubs her hands and then turns on some Beyonce tunes before she begins “cheddaring” Shelburne Farm’s award-winning cheese.
The farm’s youngest cheddar won first prize for this year’s American Cheese Society’s Cheddar – Aged Up to 12 Months – Made from Cow’s Milk category.
Born is one of seven cheesemakers at Shelburne Farms who every day oversee the process they like to call “cheddaring.” The farm’s herd of Brown Swiss cows provides the milk for all of the cheese.
Early in the process, the cheesemakers place big blocks of cheddar cheese into a vat and flip them every 10 to 15 minutes to drain liquid whey out. Then the cheese is aged, sent off to be smoked, or wrapped in cheesecloth, depending on what variety is being made.
The recent national cheese competition was notoriously tough. Shelburne Farm’s cheddar cheese was selected as a winner among nearly 2,000 cheddars from 259 different producers at this year’s competition held in Pittsburgh.
Other Vermont first place winners were: Cellars at Jasper Hill, Boston Post Dairy, Consider Bardwell Farm, Vermont Creamery, Spring Brook Farm, Parish Hill Creamery and Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company.
“These awards are the ‘Oscars’ of cheese,” said Shelburne Farms Head Cheesemaker Andi Wandt. “We’re all thrilled.”
The cheddar competition is one of the largest and most competitive of the conference.
Born said this award really “celebrates the Brown Swiss ladies, because this is the freshest cheese.”