Farm Visit: Boss Mouse Cheese

  1. May 12, 2014

    Boss Mouse01I recently had the good fortune to enjoy a farm visit to Boss Mouse Cheese in Kingsley, MI. I met owner/cheesemaker Sue Kurta a while back and the more time I spend with her, the more I enjoy her company- plus anyone who offers me mid-day wine and snacks is kind of a hero. My dear friend Kristin, who also happens to be a cook and owner of K2 Edibles, joined me on the adventure.

    Sue grew up in Detroit, and her pursuits led her to a career in corporate finance in New York City. After a number of years she longed for a change. As a home cheese maker for many years, Sue knew she wanted to take her cheesemaking to the next level. She moved back to Northern Michigan and bought a farm in Kingsley. Except for the help of her awesome parents, Mike and Margaret, she is a one-woman show.  She produces about 100 pounds of cheese every week, and sources her milk exclusively from Moomers Creamery. Cheddar, montasio, Alpine-style swiss, havarti, parmesan, cheese curds- you name it. This woman likes to practice her craft, with delicious results.

    Andy and I are very fortunate to work with amazing food artisans. I am so grateful to Sue for hosting me! You can learn more about Sue from her website. The best way to get your hands on some of Sue’s cheese is to find her at the Sara Hardy Farmers Market in downtown TC.

    I’ve selected images from the day below (with narration, of course!), but there is a complete slideshow at the bottom of the post.

    Boss Mouse18We began the day in the creamery. Once the milk and culture are heated to the correct temperature,  vegetable rennet is added.

    Boss Mouse03Sue has an 8 x 12 temperature and humidity controlled aging cave. We spent some time in the cave while the milk was heating in the kettle.

    Boss Mouse06Just a little experiment, labeled “Yogurt Cheese WTF Wheel”.

    Boss Mouse08Havarti and friends.Boss Mouse12Tasting the cheese is essential. Sue uses a tool called a cheese trier to remove a core from the wheel.Boss Mouse13Sue checks for aroma, flavor and texture, among other things. Boss Mouse11After she tastes, she replaces the rind end plug of the sample from the trier into the hole to prevent air from entering the cheese as it ages. Boss Mouse16A girl and her cheese. Boss Mouse20While the warm milk, cultures and rennet were doing their thing, we had a chance to wander the farm and have wine and snacks. Meet Rudy, aka Princess Hitler. Boss Mouse24Back in the creamery, the curd is ready to be cut. Sue tests the consistency with a custom tool her father made for her. Boss Mouse26Cutting the curd on a batch of sweet swiss.Boss Mouse27Once the curd is hand cut, Sue adds another Mike-made device, which is basically a motorized paddle mixer. Mixing with the paddle provides a consistent curd shape. This step takes a while, so we wandered off again…
    Boss Mouse30The plumbing seems to be the most sophisticated infrastructure in every creamery due to the heating, cooling, cleaning and sterilization that needs to occur during the cheese making process. Boss Mouse is no different. This is Sue’s trusty schematic.
    Boss Mouse31Time for a tour of the barn! One of the many casualties of our record winter here in northern Michigan was the functionality of Sue’s barn door. The Dukes of Hazzard method proved to be the most successful means of entry.
    Boss Mouse35All the ladies (plus a rooster).Boss Mouse34Head cheese and rescue-rabbit, Licorice. Boss Mouse39Meet Cozy…
    Boss Mouse40…and Max. Boss Mouse45Meanwhile, back in the creamery it is time to separate the curds from the whey. Boss Mouse41Straining the whey. Boss Mouse49In this step, Sue puts the curds into the mold once they are separated from the whey.
    Boss Mouse50Sue packs the curds in the mold to help give the wheel a consistent shape.
    Boss Mouse53

    Once the cheese is pressed into the mold, Sue adds weights to the mold, using another mechanism created by her dad. The weights press the remaining whey from the cheese. The wheel stays in the press for about 16 hours, and is flipped once during the process to keep the shape consistent.Boss Mouse55

    Me with Cozy, who is kind of a close-talker.

    Boss Mouse57

    I had such a great day on the farm with Sue and Kristin! Farm visits are my favorite part of my job, and this was my favorite farm visit. xoxoxo

    See more images from my awesome Boss Mouse Cheese farm visit in the slideshow below.