You may think we are half crazy for logging in the middle of winter in all this snow. But, we are doing this for a reason. We have to make sure to cut the trees at the right time of the year.
Photosynthesis takes place, meaning that the tree exchanges sap so that the leaves can make sugars for the tree (sugar goes down to roots and stores as carbohydrates so that the tree can survive through the dormancy of winter). When there are no leaves on the tree, all the sap and sugars are down in the roots, so there is no chance of off-flavor.
The wood is also drier at this time and at the right season and stage to take on the job that we are giving it to do. The shelves that we are making will be taken into our caves after they spend several months stickered and drying under cover (out of the sun and rain).
Each shelf will take on the environment of the caves (the wood is like a dry sponge—sucking everything up that is on or around it). These shelves will be good for a long time, and will not rot in the cave environment. They will continue to get moist and take on the flavors of the salt cultured cheese brine. All these factors will contribute to the unique flavor of East Hill Creamery's cheese. As time goes on the shelves will make the aging process sustainable by cultivating the good bacteria to keep the bad bacteria in check. The wooden shelves will continue to perpetuate the flavor of the last wheel of cheese onto the next wheel that is placed on that shelf. We will run them through a board washer every 6 months to prevent an over abundance of brine medium.
Another reason that we picked basswood is because it will not create an after flavor in the cheese. We want a wood that is “food-friendly”. It does not splinter or sliver, so there will be no risk of wood fragments in the cheese wheel. It is very fitting that we have an over abundance of it, and that it is a good type of wood to age cheese on.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about how we practice sustainable forestry and are using our resources to make our creamery. As always, questions and comments are welcome. Thanks for taking the time to read our blog!