Success all in the rind P8
Pyengana plucks awards
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.”