This month’s special cheese is Shepsog, Grafton Village Cheese Company, Grafton, Vermont
a raw sheep and cow milk, natural rind firm cheese
The Grafton Village Cheese Company was founded in 1892 as the Grafton Co-operative Cheese Company, to convert surplus milk from local dairy farmers into cheese. In 1912, the cheesemaking factory burned down and the community had no cheese facility until 1962, when the Windham Foundation restored the factory and brought cheesemaking back to the community. The Foundation is dedicated to promoting the rural communities of Vermont. The profits from Grafton Village Cheese go back into the Foundation to further its commitment to keep rural Vermont alive and thriving. Today, quality and taste are still the hallmarks of the company’s products.
The Grafton Cave Aged line of fine cheeses takes Grafton beyond its roots in Vermont Cheddar cheese. The cheese is carefully matured in Grafton’s own cave aging facility using raw milk from small Vermont family farms that is thermalized and contains no artificial hormones. The rennet used is non GMO microbial rennet, suitable for vegetarians.
Shepsog is the Algonquin word for “sheep”, which once covered Vermont’s hillsides during the booming wool industry of the 19th century. The forest has since reclaimed the hills, but Grafton still sources top quality sheep and cow milk to make this mixed-milk, cave-aged beauty.
The sheep milk comes from an Amish co-op two hours west of Grafton, where they still milk the sheep twice a day, by hand, year round. The sheep are on clover grass based pasture usually May through October, and spend the winter in barns while eating hay and a little grain grown by the co-op.
Made from raw sheep and cow’s milk and aged for 4-6 months, Shepsog has a dusty gray and white mottled rind, with a firm texture that echoes the curd structure of the cheese. Expect aromas of cultured butter and fresh buttermilk, alongside bright flavors that are lemony and sweet, with notes of caramel and a clean, nutty finish.
- 1/2 cup blanched almond flour 4 tablespoons coconut flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup Shepsog, shredded
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large 13 x 18 baking pan or two smaller baking pans with parchment paper.
- Mix almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, garlic powder, and sea salt in a medium mixing bowl with a whisk. Stir in eggs, coconut milk, Shepsog, and melted coconut oil. Mix thoroughly.
- Drop by spoonful or cookie scoop onto lined baking pan about three inches apart.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.
Frittata With Broccoli Rabe and Shepsog
- 3⁄4 pound (375 g) broccoli rabe, tough stems trimmed
- 6 large eggs
- 1⁄2 cup (35 g) grated Shepsog
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli rabe and boil until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain in a sieve and cool quickly under cold running water. Drain and squeeze well to remove excess moisture. Chop coarsely. Measure out 1 1⁄2 cups (250 g) chopped broccoli and reserve the remainder for another use.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until blended, then whisk in the Shepsog, salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Stir in the broccoli rabe. Heat a 10-inch (25 cm) nonstick frying pan over medium heat, then add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the egg mixture and use a rubber spatula to spread into an even layer. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
4. Cook without stirring until the frittata is about two-thirds set, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to the oven and bake just until the frittata feels firm on top and has puffed slightly, 9 to 10 minutes. Immediately slide the frittata onto a cutting board or wooden serving board. The frittata should slip out easily, but if not, use a rubber spatula to loosen it. Let cool for 15 minutes, then slice into wedges
Cave to Co-op is a partnership between Provision International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support local, artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers. The NFCA is a network of more than 40 food co-ops in our region — including yours — that are working together to advance their vision of a thriving regional economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable food system and a vibrant community of co-operative enterprise. For more information, please visit www.nfca.coop.