Into the Valley of Cheese

valleyIt’s no secret that this time of year in New Jersey is an outdoorsman’s paradise. The leaves are falling, the air smells sweet and feels crisp and clear, the hiking and biking trails beckon us to follow, and the farms are eNJoying banner harvests and a record number of visitors, whether they are picking apples or pumpkins, feeding the animals or making cheese. Wait, making cheese? Oh yeah, and it’s a Gouda day!

Say hello to Valley Shepherd Creamery. “An old fashioned creamery welcomes you and your family to a unique farm experience in New Jersey. 120 beautiful acres in Long Valley, Morris County, NJ, within an hour of New York City! We have combined years of artisan cheesemaking expertise with modern equipment from around the world and age-old European sheep farming practices to create Valley Shepherd Creamery. We take pride in being able to educate and involve the visitor in daily life of a real working sheep dairy while creating over thirty styles of artisan cheeses, yogurt and butter. Milking over 500 sheep, 100 goats and 50 cows, Valley Shepherd utilizes European traditional methods to produce many cheeses from grazed animals milk. All our hard cheeses, aged over 60 days, are made from raw milk and traditional rennet.”

cimg2048-33bb96f7f3The process of making cheese, which involves many old world methods and techniques brought over from Europe, is simply fascinating. Tours are available, where one can see how it’s done from start to finish in their incredible facility. Their secret might just be the milk they get fresh from three different animals – cows, goats and sheep. Every batch is small and handmade, allowing them to vary, create and invent every day so you get to taste your old favorites and always try new exciting varieties. The tours are a must and are available every weekend throughout November. It begins with sheep milking in their state-of-the-art barn, then moves on to a leisurely hay wagon ride to the Cheese Aging Cave, where you’ll get to see how the cheese is actually made. The return through the beautiful countryside will end at the Sheep Shop, where you can taste and purchase various products.

If this sounds like a perfectly fun afternoon to you, you’re not alone. Valley Shepherd Creamery attracts visitors from the entire New York/ New Jersey metropolitan area. To you we say Happy Thanksgiving. When you visit Grandma’s house, why not bring cheese?

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