In January 1999, Clarke and Nancy Gourlay with their 3 boys returned from Switzerland where they had been living for several years. Inspired by the magnificent Swiss cheeses, they set out to learn and practice the ancient and noble art of cheese making. The cool moist climate in the shadow of Vancouver Island's Mt. Arrowsmith proved to be ideal for the ripening of washed-rind cheeses, and Little Qualicum Cheeseworks found a home. We began milking cows and making cheese in 2001. Three years later we moved to beautiful Morningstar Farm and have opened our farm and animals to the public.
We here are Little Qualicum Cheeseworks are proud to annouce that we have received the following certifications:
The BC SPCA: The BC SPCA provides an independent audit of our dairy operation and certifies that we meet or exceed their high standards of animal husbandry. We take good care of our cows. It makes good financial sense as the truism “Happy cows make good [and lots of!] milk” suggests. We also take good care of our cows (and all of the animals on our farm: domestic, farm and wild) because it is morally the right thing to do. As farmers we have taken on the responsibility of caring for these animals, and we take that responsibility seriously.
Isn't it funny how "carbon footprint reporting" has become so trendy all of a sudden? We are told it is a major marketing tool and advantage. So here we are writing a new Carbon Footprint page about what we've always been doing. Sorry folks, we haven't changed the way we farm. But we think you'll agree we are being responsible about the way we farm. Good environmental management is often just good economics! Let me share a few examples:
1: Grazing Cows: Cows were born to graze. And fresh grass makes GREAT milk! But think too of the carbon implications of grazing versus barn-feeding: reduced machine time harvesting (we still harvest one cut of spring grass that we make into silage for winter feeding), reduced machine time feeding (none during grazing season), reduced machine time spreading manure (they spread it themselves!). Because our fields are in permanent pasture we have no machine time ploughing and planting fields. Every hour not spent on machines both reduces fuel consumption and increases the life of the machine. Plus did you know that intensively managed permanent pasture is a better carbon sink than the Amazon Rain Forest on a per acre basis? Not bad for the environment eh?
Early each morning the cows come in from the field to be milked. The fresh warm milk is mixed with the cooled evening milk and either made directly into aged, raw milk cheese, or gently heated to pasteurization temperature for our fresh, soft cheeses.
Carefully selected cultures are added to 'ripen' the milk. At just the right moment rennet is added as a coagulant. Depending on the cheese to be made, the curd will be cut, stirred or heated and then poured into forms.
After salting the fun begins. Micro flora take over in a strictly controlled environment: cool but not too cool, humid but not too humid, the cheese is transformed from a piece of salty protein and butterfat to one of nature's wonders: ripe cheese.
Cheese, the word conjures up different images for different people. From orange blocks, a 'slice' between sheets of plastic, to multicoloured mouldy or sticky rinds, runny or chalky inside, this stuff is ALIVE.'
What is it? Cheese is made by the addition of helpful bacteria and enzymes to milk, which produces flavour and helps separate the curds from the whey. Sometimes natural yeasts and moulds are introduced as well. These help form a protective rind and add to the complexity of the flavour. The fuzzy white mould, penicillium candidum, for example, is what covers Brie and Camembert, creating that mushroomy aroma and creamy texture. Eat it, it's good!
But it smells The by-products of these moulds, bacteria and their enzymes continue to live in the cheese a long time. They6 break down the body of the cheese so you will discover different aromas, flavours and textures at different times during the life of the cheese.