Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Veronica Baetje from Baetje Farms

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The Baetje family wall is completely covered with over 60 different awards for their rich, creamery, and flavorful goat cheese. They've wowed America at the America Cheese Society and the world at the World Cheese Awards. Luckily for us, the Baetje family raises their goats and makes their cheese a mere 60 miles away from St. Louis in Bloomsdale, Missouri. Where to buy their cheese.

How many years have you guys been making cheese?
We were licensed in 2007 but I started making cheese years ago back in 99 when we just had a few goats and I was experimenting with different cheese recipes. I really enjoyed it and I went to the University of Vermont and went through their advanced cheese making course. They have a Vermont Institute of Arts and Cheese there. I went through that. It took a few years. They have a really good course there. And I just continued to increase my knowledge with other cheese makers and reading books. And then we were able to build up slowly.

Do you have a cheese philosophy? I think the best cheese is made from the best milk and the best milk and the best milk comes from animals that are in the best state of health and nutrition. So we’re very conscious about how our animals are treated and what kind of diet they have. We monitor each goat individually and test their milk and try to make adjustments with their diet. I think that really reflects well for us because to date we’ve won over 60 national and international awards since 2007. Those awards are from some of the big competitions like the American Cheese Society and the World Cheese Awards in Birmingham, England. We’ve really been competing against the top names in the industry and we’ve won several Super Golds, which is the highest award for our Bloomsdale.

What’s your favorite thing about making cheese?
I guess my favorite part is seeing the cheese in the aging room and seeing just really good cheese come to perfection. I really enjoy that.

What do you want people to know about cheese making or farming? All cheese is not the same. The cheese that you see at Shop and Save that’s two packs for $5 is commodity cheese. The standard nutrition is nothing extraordinary. What we’re making is something extraordinary. We’re making artisan cheese that’s really hand crafted and it’s patterned after cheeses they’d make for centuries in Europe. Our cheeses have brines on them and they go to through a period of affinage* when we’re either washing them or drying them. Kraft Singles is really not cheese. They’re just processing milk in a factory. It doesn’t have any of the flavor profiles or the care that our cheese has, which is why ours is going to be more expensive. Those that have a sophisticated palate and want something new will find that in our cheese.

*Affiange: a French word that describes the care that cheese gets while going through the aging process.

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