Suc­cess all in the rind P8

Pyen­gana plucks awards

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - KAROLIN MACGRE­GOR

TRA­DI­TIONAL meth­ods and a pas­sion for cheese-mak­ing have helped the Healey fam­ily’s Pyen­gana Dairy win ma­jor awards.

The Pyen­gana cloth-rind ched­dar claimed a gold medal win­ners at this year’s De­li­cious mag­a­zine awards and also at the Ho­bart Fine Food Awards.

For Jon Healey, the awards recog­nise that in top qual­ity cheese big­ger is not al­ways bet­ter.

He said when Pyen­gana first started award judges were wor­ried if they saw a blem­ish of mould on the out­side of the prod­uct.

“We’ve come a long way and they’re look­ing at the artisan pro­duc­ers and ex­pect­ing lit­tle im­per­fec­tions, if you can call it that. And the prod­ucts are so dif­fer­ent for us and the big pro­duc­ers.”

The ven­ture into com­mer­cial cheese-mak­ing started about 25 years ago. When Mr Healey re­turned to the fam­ily dairy farm it was look­ing for ways to add value.

At the time only one other farm in the state was value-adding with cheese, but the Healeys saw the po­ten­tial, es­pe­cially with tourism.

“It was al­ways the plan to have a vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence,” Mr Healey said. “When­ever we had any vis­i­tors we’d al­ways see the calves or watch the cows get­ting milked.”

Cheese has been made in the Pyen­gana val­ley for about 123 years.

All the Healeys’ cheese is pro­duced us­ing tra­di­tional meth­ods and us­ing his grand­fa­ther’s orig­i­nal cheese vat.

“It’s back-break­ing and hard phys­i­cal work, but it’s part of what you have to do.”

The award-win­ning cheese aged for a min­i­mum of 12 months.

“It’s ex­tremely tra­di­tional for this area and places in Eng­land, but it’s not some­thing we see in Aus­tralia that much,” Mr Healey said.

He said the cloth-rind cheese was stored on bare pine shelv­ing and turned and wiped so they grew a nat­u­ral rind, which cre­ated mi­cro flora and im­parted flavour.

Mr Healey said Aus­tralians’ taste­buds were chang­ing and they were more will­ing to try dif­fer­ent foods.

How­ever, he said im­ported cheeses some­times pushed out lo­cal prod­ucts and this was an is­sue for artisan pro­duc­ers with higher costs.

“I think it’s a sell­ing point that we only make that one sort of cheese.”

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