the SEASON of the Sheep!

February 28, 2015

2015 is officially the lunar year of the sheep.  And now that March is here, we sit nicely on the cusp of the “season” of sheep cheese!

Most people do not realize that cheeses have seasons.But just like vegetation… they do!

Artisanal and farmstead cheese are natural agricultural products.  They come from the land. And on the land, spring is a time of rebirth,… of bright fresh grasses, wild flowers, and herbs.  These are eaten with delight by the herds.  The essence of this infuses beautifully into the milk, and further to the cheese that the milk makes.  This adds complexity, variation, and life!

Sheep milk is unique in it’s own right, and also very much reflects this seasonal rhythm. Firstly, sheep eat the top grasses of Spring and beyond, yielding highly nutritious milk that is significantly richer than both cows and goats in vitamins A, B, E, and calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.  It also holds a higher proportion of short chain fatty acids making the milk and the cheese easier to digest.  But along with the seasons, sheep produce less milk than cows or goats, and their lactation period is distinctly shorter with a ‘dry’ period during winter months.

So what does this mean? Firstly, ‘young’or shorter-aged sheep cheeses are at their best from approximately March until November (depending on where the cheese was made). Aged sheep cheese can be calculated backwards.  Six month Pecorino Toscano purchased in January means that the milk was produced  in the northern region of Italy during the glorious Tuscan months of flowers and abundant grasses.  This magic is preseved in the cheese – perfect timing!

We are happy to invite you to explore the unique charm and character of sheep cheese.  After the long winter we had this year, ……

We are thrilled to say it’s sheep season!!