A week-long challenge of eating only local foods brought Shepherds Cheese to my attention. Scanning the cheese section of Fresh Market, I spotted a small brick of feta with a handsome black label. Upon reading, I discovered that Shepherd’s Cheese was located in Tooele. I hit the localvore cheese jackpot! I used their feta in nearly every dish I ate that week – crumbling the dense, flavorful cheese over salads, pasta and egg dishes. I came away with a fondness (more like an addiction) to Shepherds Cheese Feta and an appreciation for the local company.
Since 2000, Shepherds Cheese has been producing small batches of goat cheese using Grade A, hormone-free goats milk. Quality is of paramount importance to the local dairy, who combines the art of handcrafted cheese making with state of the art equipment. Working in small batches and following the strictest guidelines has earned accolades from the American Cheese Society for Shepherd’s Cheese. .
“I’ve been in the cheese production business for 25 years,.” states Vaughn Oborn, who owns the company with his wife. “I’ve managed a number of plants and spent many years in California working at one of the largest cheese plants in the country.” When the opportunity appeared to own a smaller dairy in Tooele, Vaughn and his wife jumped at the chance. A commitment to family, and being around to watch their grandchildren grow up convinced Oborns to buy the dairy and make Tooele home. “We saw this as a great opportunity,” says Oborn. “We wanted to get away from the large corporate companies and focus on producing artisanal goat cheese.”
“Goat and cow milk have a few key differences,” explains Oborn, an expert cheese-maker. “Goat milk is more digestible than cow milk. A lot of people that are lactose intolerant are able to enjoy goat milk. It also has a higher level of good cholesterol.” The same qualities that make goat milk healthy for people, present a challenge when it comes to making cheese. “Goat milk is much more fragile. Temperature control is huge part of making goat cheese.” says Oborn.”We have to treat it very carefully.”
Feta is made using traditional methods, developing the salty and tangy flavor using slow cure times and low temps. This dense, crumbly cheese adds a craveable dimension to pizza, pasta and salads. Look for different flavors including: Sun Dried Tomatoes with Basil, Cracked Peppercorn, Mediterranean Herb & Spice and Roasted Garlic & Herb.
Shepherds Cheese most popular product is chevre, a fresh cheese with a semi-soft spreadable quality. Since the chevre is not aged, customers can buy it just two weeks after it’s made. It comes in the same flavors as their feta, as well as plain. Creamy, yet firm, this cheese is ideal to use in a wide variety of dishes. “The neat thing about our chevre is that it can be used in desserts, sauces, Mediterranean dishes and even stuffed mushrooms. “You can use it instead of cream cheese.” added Oborn. “The flavor has a nice, tangy piquant.”
As expected, the Oborn family has quite a few recipes for their chevre. One of their favorites is for hamburgers. Simply add chevre to fresh ground beef and season with salt and pepper, then grill. The burgers have a fresh and tangy flavor without the usual cheeseburger grease, according to Oborn. On their website you can find a recipe for mouth watering stuffed mushrooms filled with bacon and chevre – an appetizer their friends and family insist they bring to every gathering. Check out their Facebook page for more tasty ideas, like cheesecake made with whipped chevre substituting cream cheese.
You can find Shepherds Cheese in most grocery stores along the Wasatch Front in the fine cheese section. Look for the distinctive black label.
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