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Laurel Valley Creamery {Farm Profile}

laurel valley milk barn Nestled around soft Southern Ohio hills there is a winding road that leads to Laurel Valley Farm and Creamery. On one side of the rumbling stone lane is the farm house, creamery rooms, and calf pens. On the other, the milking barn.

Cows to Cheese

Celeste and Nick Nolan manage the farm that has been in Nick's family for decades. They express gratitude that they are able to carry on the family tradition but also frustration with  the facilities that were left in decline for some time.

calves at laurel valley

Nick is the cow man. He raises calves, moves the herd around the pastures and milks the cows daily. The pastured raw milk rests in a huge container that holds it at a chilled temperature until Celeste makes it into cheese.

creamery room The creamery is a converted outbuilding that now houses three rooms. In the first, Celeste adds culture into raw milk. Depending on the desired cheese variety, the milk is heated, stirred, cut into curds, pressed and/or flavored with locally grown herbs and peppers.

cheese agingcheeses

Some cheeses go from the processing room to the curing and aging room. Large rounds are brined and allowed to dry and age on wire racks.

All cheese ends up in the storage room labelled with a hand-lettered Laurel Valley label featuring a sweet cow face. Some is packaged in bulk for resale to restaurants. Others find their way directly to customers at farmers markets and grocers.

Variety Notes

cloverton aphrocheesiachavarti

All Laurel Valley cheeses are raw and simple to allow the flavor of the full fat grass-fed milk to shine through. These are true farmstead cheeses.

Laurel Valley makes several flavors of cheese curds. Fresh cheese curds are a rare treat; Laurel Valley's are squidgy, salty, super little bites. Enjoy curds as a snack, salad topping, or part of my favorite Canadian speciality, poutine.

Cloverton is a soft farmstead cheese that has a texture similar to chevre. It is creamy, slightly tangy, and luxuriously smooth. Cloverton is a blank slate for making into desserts or stirring into savory sauces. Laurel Valley makes Cloverton into several seasoned cheeses including Aphrocheesiac, a small loaf of cheese covered in Mediterranean spices.

Recently, Jeni's Ice Creams created a roasted cherry cheesecake parfait with Laurel Valley Cloverton sauce. I felt obligated to try it for the sake of this review and was not disappointed. The flavors are balanced and the parfait is so rich one might need not eat for days after.

Lil's favorite Laurel Valley cheese is the Havarti. It is mild flavored with tiny holes typical of the variety. The semi-soft texture makes it a nice contrast to more aged cheeses on a cheese plate.

Cheddar, Jersey Drover, and Galaswiss are all rich and creamy versions of the standard recipe. Laurel Valley's Country Jack is unique in that it's medium heat comes from local farm peppers.

celeste and baby Up Next for Laurel Valley

Thanks to growing demand for local milk products, Laurel Valley intends to expand their herd and make cheese more often in 2012. Celeste is experimenting with new styles of cheese and new flavorings for the Cloverton and cheese curds. Follow Laurel Valley on Facebook for all the latest news.

Find Laurel Valley cheese in central Ohio at the Clintonville Community Market, Weiland's, The Hills, and Celebrate Local.

 

Disclosure: Celeste generously fed Lil and I samples of cheese when I visited the farm. I was not compensated for this review and opinions remain my own.