Jasper Hill Farm produces almost 1 million pounds a cheese a year, over their whole collection: 995,000 pounds to be exact. They were just named Best of the Fest for Harbison at the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, the people’s choice, determined by people who attend the festival.
At the World Cheese Awards, held in Bath, England in November 2014, their Bayley Hazen Blue won “Best Unpasteurized Cheese” of the top 13 cheeses.
“It was surprising, and unexpected. We felt honored to be picked for that distinguished award and it really validates all of the hard work our team has put into making Bayley Hazen such a delicious product,” said Andy Kehler about the win at the World Cheese Awards. He owns the farm Greensboro Bend, VT with his brother Mateo Kehler. They have also been featured in publications such as Bon Appetit and Martha Stewart.
Besides heaping up awards, “We are doing a lot of work to preserve the tradition of grass-based dairying,” said spokesperson Molly Browne, forming a pasture-based seed program.
They have just built a new facility in nearby Craftsbury to dry hay for the cows. “It is common in Europe, the first time done in America,” she said.
The floor is built of concrete. Above that are 100 culverts that hold 700 pound round bales. A heater forces hot air underneath the bales and around them, to dry the bales. “It takes four days to dry hay in the field, something we don’t get often up here in the Northeast Kingdom,” said Browne. Drying the hay inside will replace trying to have Mother Nature gift them four consecutive dry days. They plan to produce 2,000 tons of dry hay this year to feed their cows, a herd of 45 Ayrshires on the 260-acre farm.
Otherwise, the round bales would need to be fermented, but they can’t feed the cows fermented hay because it affects the cheese-making, specifically due to microbiology. “We made this big investment in the dry hay available for the cows for cheese-making,” said Browne.
They keep their cheese in 22,000 square feet of manmade vaults that they made in 2007, excavating into the hillside and making concrete tunnels, emulating the caves or cheese cellars found in France, Italy and England to age their cheese. There are seven individual vaults altogether in the cellars facility where they age their six kinds of cheeses and cheeses in the their collection, including Alpha Tolman, Harbison, Kinsman Ridge and others, cheeses for other farms, as well as for Cabot Cheese, including Cabot’s clothbound cheddar. All of the cheeses in jasper Hill Farm’s collection are cave-aged. Bayley Hazen Blue is aged in Vault 7.
Scheduled tours are given of the cellars to visitors.
They also offer a three day long Cheese Camp Intensive Learning for Professional Mongers.