Cave to Co-op, September 2021

Each month, your Neighboring Food Co-ops feature our region’s artisan cheesemakers by offering a specially selected cheese at a great price. Look for the “Cave to Co-op” sign in the cheese section at your local food co-op. To find one near you, visit

This Month’s Selection:


A raw cow-milk, clothbound natural rind cheddar.

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.

Clothbound Cheddar is classic milled curd cow milk cheddar wrapped in cheesecloth while it ages slowly in Grafton’s caves for a minimum of six months. Grafton Clothbound delivers a very bold cheese with both nut and mushroom notes.

Grafton Clothbound is delicious any time of year on a cheese plate or in a sandwich or just eaten out of hand. Here are a few recipes as well.


Grafton Clothbound Cheddar Soup with Kielbasa

serves 6-8


  • 2 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped, 6 T unsalted butter
  • 1/3 C all-purpose flour
  • 3 C chicken or vegetable broth
  • 12 oz. beer or ale
  • ½ C cream
  • 8 ounces Grafton Clothbound Cheddar, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. Kielbasa sausage, sliced thinly
  • paprika to taste


  • Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat.
  • Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned, 8–10 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add butter and stir until melted. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until beginning to turn golden brown, about 4 minutes.
  • Whisk in broth, beer, and cream. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 10–15 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and whisk in cheese a handful at a time, whisking to combine after each addition. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes to ensure cheese is melted.
  • Use an immersion blender directly in the pot to purée the soup until it is smooth.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook sausage pieces in a skillet with 1 teaspoon of oil, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden.
  • Divide soup between bowls and top with sausage and a sprinkling of paprika.


Cheddar Salad w/Grafton Clothbound and Heirloom Apples

  • 6 Heirloom apples
  • 1 Cup of golden raisins
  • 1 Cup of pecans or hazelnuts, toasted
  • 8 ounces Grafton Clothbound cheddar,  shaved
  • 2 cups of arugula, washed and dried
  • ¼ cup homemade vinaigrette

Core and cube the apples – peel if you wish – and place in a medium bowl. Add the raisins, nuts and cheddar. Gently fold in the vinaigrette. Refrigerate for at least an hour and toss in the arugula just before serving. serves 4

Grafton Clothbound Cheddar Polenta Croquettes 

serves 6-8

  • 6-8 cups water
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 ½ t salt
  • ½ cup grated Grafton clothbound cheddar
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 T chopped parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • olive oil, for frying

In a large saucepan, bring the water to boil, then whisk in the cornmeal in a slow stream to prevent any lumps. Add the salt, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cornmeal is soft and the polenta is quite firm and pulling away from the sides of the pot (if the cornmeal is not yet soft, add water as necessary). Add the cheddar, scallions, and parsley, stir well to combine, then pour the polenta onto a baking sheet to cool and set up.

Once the polenta is cooled and firm, cut it into 3-inch squares or circles (it should be about 1/2 inch thick). Whisk the eggs and milk together in a small bowl and spread the breadcrumbs on a plate. Dip each polenta croquette in the egg mixture, then the breadcrumbs.

Heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Carefully add the croquettes, cooking in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Cook until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes, then flip carefully to cook the other side. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven while cooking the remaining croquettes. Serve with sprinkled parsley.

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