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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cheese maker profile: Sequatchie Cove Farm

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 9:00 AM

  • Courtesy Sequatchie Cove

The southern United States has a rich culinary history. Cheese making, however, is not a chapter in the encyclopedia of Southern cuisine. But in the last 14 to 20 years, the cheesy story is finally being written: Artisan cheese-making industry in the South is taking root. Sweetgrass Dairy in Thomasville and Sweet Home Farm in Elberta, Ala., are a couple of the forefathers of the Southern cheese-making business. Dairies and creameries are starting to pop up all over the Southeast.

One of the more recent additions is Sequatchie Cove Creamery in Sequatchie, Tenn., at Sequatchie Cove Farm. There's nothing new about Sequatchie Farm, where beef, pork and produce have been raised for many years. In the last year it's added cheese making to its repertoire. March marked its one-year anniversary as a licensed cheese-making facility.

The farm is a short drive out I-24 West from Chattanooga and is surrounded by the Cumberland Plateau, the Little Sequatchie River and endless acres of Tennessee forest. Cheese maker Nathan Arnold, a longtime Sequatchie Cove employee and native, took a couple of short cheese-making courses at the University of Vermont and in Guelph, Ontario. Then Arnold began a tour of cheese-making regions and visited people that he felt could guide him on his path to cheesy nirvana. Arnold spent time cutting the curd with some of America's top cheese makers as well.

All cheeses made by Sequatchie Cove are made exclusively from the milk of its own herd of cows. In keeping with the techniques that Arnold learned in France, Sequatchie Cove is using traditional French dairy cows, Montbéliard and Tarentaise, and adding American flavor by crossing them with the warm-weather-friendly Jersey cows.

Cheeses currently being made at Sequatchie Cove are:

Gruetli: An alpine-style cheese named for a Swiss colony that was established in Tennessee in the 1800s.

Coppinger: A semi-firm washed rind cheese named for Coppinger Cove, where Arnold and his wife, Padgett, currently live.

Cumberland: A young semi-firm cheese inspired by the Tomme de Savoie.

One of the great things about Sequatchie Cove cheese is that Arnold takes classic recipes and turns them into cheeses that are unique to the farm. His cheeses show off the personality of the cheese maker, the farm and the newest chapter in American cheese making: the South.

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