Cato Corner Farm – Connecticut farmstead cheese

Tucked away in the Connecticut countryside, not far from Colchester, is the Cato Corner Farm along Cato Corner Road. I do not know which came first, the farm or the road; not that it matters either. The fun thing is that this is a farmstead dairy, making cheese from raw milk. I know about some of them, especially in Vermont. I am particularly concerned with raw milk cheese, so there are quite a few dairies that are excluded from my list, naturally. Having said that, the USA is a huge country, with such a variety when it comes to cheese making, that I am fine with not having a complete overview. Even counting just those doing raw milk cheese. Since I after all are in Connecticut for the moment, on vacation, it was sort of good fortune there was a farmstead dairy close by, doing raw milk cheese. So we were of course set off to visit, not only once, but twice.

Cato corner farm
The Cheese Shop at Cato Corner Farm, Colchester, CT.

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Cheese during pregnancy

I notice quite a few people, women I assume, searching for ‘cheese during pregnancy’ and ends up at osteperler.no. I like that. So to cater for those looking for important information about cheese during their pregnancy, here’s a small notice on a very important topic.

Conventional wisdom has it women should not eat cheese made from raw milk, or unpasteurized cheese if you like, during their pregnancy. That is true, but quite oversimplified. If you are pregnant you should stay away from any soft or semi-soft cheese irrespective of pasteurization or not. That means if you are pregnant, stay away from any soft cheese, bloomy rind cheese, blue cheese and the washed rind cheeses (those with a light red/orange rind), i.e. also the pasteurized ones.

By the way, it is not only cheese you should be careful with during a pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about that. Denmark had an outbreak stemming from smoked salmon last year. Get it?

It is not very likely you will ever catch listeria from eating any cheese really, but the consequences for the fetus is very, very serious if you do. That’s not a risk you should take, however small it is.

Naturally there are more outbreaks of listeria from pasteurized cheese than raw milk cheese, simply because there are so much more pasteurized cheese made in the world. This may sound like outbreaks are frequent, but they are not. In USA there was an outbreak in 2017 from a raw milk washed rind cheese causing two fatalities as far as I know. In 2007 five people died in Norway from having consumed pasteurized Camembert. I’ve written somewhere else, pasteurization protects the milk, not the cheese.

Firm and hard cheeses are not considered representing any risk for catching listeria.
Not much more to say about this.

And remember; a good cup of tea pairs well with cheese.

Read more: Cheese and Listeria

What you eat during pregnancy is your responsibility and yours only. If you are in doubt about anything regarding food and pregnancy, always consult your medical doctor.

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The Middle Ages

Thinking of it, there is not much positive to be said about the Middle Ages. A rather depressive period in European history. Inquisition, witch burning, The Black Death and lots more. From a Norwegian perspective during the early Middle Ages we had the Vikings running around.
But in the midst of all this darkness that we associate with the Middle Ages, there was actually a beam of light when it comes to the development of cheese. The very beginning of cheese started several thousand years earlier, but cheese as we know it today, and quite a few of the cheeses we enjoy with great pleasure, were created during this rather dull part of history. So not all negative.

Charles the Great

So here he reappears, Charles the Great. This is the very early part of the Middle Ages, the Inquisition and all that comes much later. But he laid a foundation, Charles the Great, because he was very fond of cheese.
With all his warfare he obviously needed an excellent nutrient. Moreover, he was an eager advocate for the distribution of the, after all, limited knowledge there was about making of cheese. We have come a long way since then, just mentioning it. But, as said, he laid a foundation, and that was an important one.

Battle at Stiklestad

That was 1030. But about that time have mentions of Swiss Sbrintz, at 1070 Roquefort is mentioned (That is just four years after the Battle of Stamford Bridge). About the same time we hear of, not we; they, Italian Taleggio and Gorgonzola. In Norway we made Skyr, fought battles to get the land Christianised, which was what the battle at Stiklestad in 1030 was more or less all about.
Skyr was later taken to Iceland where it has survived up till this day, while forgotten in Norway. Well, not altogether forgotten, still made for home use on farms on the west coast.

middle ages
The dark Middle Ages

Enough said. About 1100 – 1200 things really started to happen. The Dutch develops their cheese greatness. Even today Holland is one of the world’s leading cheese exporters. But alas, most of it boring, made by industrial dairies.

The Monasteries

If we look at the era from 1100 till 1400 there is one factor that is especially important for the development of cheese. The monks tarting to use copper vats for making cheese. Up till then they had used vats of stone or clay. The latter we know from wine making as well; the use of amphora. To some extent, in some areas there is a revival of amphoras, mostly for natural or orange wine making. Probably not so for cheese, even though wooden vats are still in use.
Cheese was very common as a barter, not to mention tithing. The church and monasteries demanded their share, of course. The alpine farmers used cheese to free themselves from the monasteries and land owners and started to cultivate pastures in the hillsides to lay the foundation for alpine cheese as we know it today.

International commodity

From 1400 onward, cheese becomes an international commodity, lasting till about 1700th century, when decline set in because of all the wars raging. Religious wars, 30 years war and so on with a consequential decline in the economy, hitting cheese as a commodity hard.

The Age of Enlightenment

The above was followed by the Age of Enlightenment and the timid beginnings of cheese making as we still know it. The industrial revolution enables large scale industrial production, not necessarily a qualitative advancement, but still. Building of railways making way for effective distribution and chemists researching bacterial activity in cheese making, among other things, and pasteurization is discovered. Pasteurization is such an important discovery in most aspects, but not necessarily for cheese making, though.

Sort of a cliff notes version, this.

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