6 Comments

31 Cheeses in 31 Days: Day Thirty-one: Rush Creek Reserve

2012 American Cheese Month 31 Cheeses in 31 Days: Day Thirty-one: Rush Creek Reserve

Cheese: Rush Creek Reserve

Who: Uplands Cheese Company

Website: Uplands Cheese Company

Where: Dodgeville, Wisconsin

Milk Type: cow, raw

Texture: like thick pudding cold, runny when warmed

Rind: washed rind, wrapped in spruce bark

Shape: 12oz wheel

Flavor: salted butter, egg custard, cured meats, woodsy-sweet

“Pleasant Ridge is made in the pastures and Rush Creek is made in the caves.”

– Andy Hatch

“Pleasant Ridge is made in the pastures and Rush Creek is made in the caves.” – Andy Hatch

Like yesterday’s review, Rogue River Blue, Rush Creek Reserve is on a steady upward trajectory to achieving legendary, perhaps mythical, status. Buyers in the upper Midwest eagerly anticipate the arrival of this short-run, seasonal cheese from Dodgeville, Wisconsin, where just a few thousand wheels make it to market. This was a challenging year due to the drouth and its impact on the grazing herds but they’ve made more Rush Creek Reserve than ever, near 18,000 wheels. Still, count on it to vanish quickly.

I knew when I started this month-long celebration of American Cheeses that Upland’s Rush Creek would, unquestionably, be #31, the culmination of a lot of curds. I was fortunate to recently meet up with Andy Hatch, with Uplands since 2007 and maker of both Rush Creek Reserve and the multi-award-winning Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Andy was gracious enough to take time to answer a few questions about bringing Rush Creek to life:

WITR: The two cheeses, Pleasant Ridge and Rush Creek  are aged side-by-side in the same ripening rooms, sharing the environment. What’s unique about that space and how does it affect Rush Creek’s development?

AH: By the time we start making Rush Creek, in early autumn, the ripening room where it will age has had thousands of wheels of Pleasant Ridge pass through it over the course of the season.  It’s brimming with yeasts and b-linens and with a high-moisture cheese like Rush Creek, all we really need to do is walk it into the room and let the ambient microflora do their work.  Still, we do wash the Rush Creek with the same brine that’s been used to wash Pleasant Ridge, so the two are kissing cousins in that way.

WITR: You’ve said Rush Creek was inspired by the French Vacherin Mont d’Or. What was it about the French original that inspired you? How does yours differ from the original?

AH: I’ve always loved Mont d’Or and because it’s no longer sold in the states, I knew that other Mont d’Or fans here would jump at the chance to try a domestic version.  Really, though, the most important inspiration was the same practical reason that led the French to make a cheese like this during the fall and winter – the milk is richer and has less flavor complexity than the summer, grass-fed milk, and so it’s better suited to a young, soft cheese.  Ours is different in that, as a raw milk cheese, is has to be aged for 60 days, whereas the French sell theirs after 25-30 days.

So I learned to make Mont d’Or in France, but had to totally deconstruct the recipe here at home, because every small variation in the make has implications during the ripening process, and it was a challenge to learn how to pace that process so that the cheese peaks at 70-80 days instead of 25-30.

WITR: Rush Creek is a relatively “new” cheese- how it is evolving from year to  year?

AH: Like Pleasant Ridge, and like any cheese made from raw milk and aged with a natural rind, it’s a process of never-ending adaption and adjustment.  The conditions change and the cheesemaker has to change with them.  It will take us years to master a difficult cheese like Rush Creek, and even then it won’t allow us to run on auto-pilot.

WITR: As you said, you had to deconstruct the French original to make an American original. I imagine it wasn’t perfect from the very beginning. Any tales of cheese gone wrong?

AH: We fed a lot of cheese to the hogs.  Thousands of cheeses in 2009, when we were still experimenting, and in 2010, the first year we sold Rush Creek, we made 4000 wheels.  Sold 3000 and fed 1000 to the hogs. We only want to release the best cheeses.

Thanks Andy!

This season, don’t wait too long for your Rush Creek – you’d hate to miss out on this one-of-kind American Original and it will be gone before you know it.

In closing, here’s an in-depth feature of Andy and the folks at Uplands making Rush Creek Reserve from beginning to end in this episode of Wisconsin Foodie. The segment is 15 minutes and will give you a great example of the labor behind hand-made farmstead cheese.

Advertisements

6 comments on “31 Cheeses in 31 Days: Day Thirty-one: Rush Creek Reserve

  1. […] but the 20′s-something Katie literally burst onto the cheesemaking scene just recently. Add Andy Hatch from Uplands and a number of other up-and-coming already award-winning Wisconsin makers and the […]

  2. […] have you. When talking recently  with cheesemaker Andy Hatch, maker of Pleasant Ridge Reserve and Rush Creek, he related to me how he was thinking about the milk left at the end of the season: about how […]

  3. […] feature on this season’s Rush Creek Reserve. My #1 Cheese in our 31 Cheeses in 31 Days […]

  4. We love this cheese! Great to serve to guests at this time of year.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Cheese Making Years

The Adventures of Anne Hastings in the World of Cheese

Secondary Culture

cheesy adventures in the world of milk, cultures, and mold

Finger, Fork & Knife

I'm Kate and Finger, Fork and Knife is where I record the recipes that excite, nourish and inspire me. I focus on wholesome, high-nutrition, home-cooked food - recipes that satisfy and delight. Welcome!

The House Mouse

One girl's journey through the cheese world

Salutation Recipes

I'm trying to keep a log of all the things we cook which taste really lovely. You know what it's like: you tweak and tweak a recipe until it's barely recognisable and then wonder how you used to make it. And it will also save a lot of time and bits of paper when it comes to sharing those recipes with friends.

Saucy Pans

Food Reviews and Recipes around Bristol & Cardiff

eCharta

The blog

ICI & LA NATURE PICTURES

Walk and Bike in France. www.icietlanature.com

cookinandshootin

"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it." - Julia Child

A Crust Eaten

Living life one plate at a time

%d bloggers like this: