LANCASTER-When the owner of Glengarry Fine Cheese learned of her company's winnings in the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair by e-mail before the fair opened, she was so excited she could hardly believe the results.
"I saw first class in the hard cheese category with aged Gouda. Then I saw another first, looked down and saw a first again. Then I went to the goat cheese section and saw third. I was really so pleased, I couldn't work for a while," Margaret Peters-Morris told The AgriNews on Nov. 24.
Judging the 2010 Dairy Products Variety Cheese Competition's 95 entries were Jean Jacques Turgeon and Thierry Martin. The company's Extra Aged Lankaaster, which is a hard cheese with an open texture scored 97.4 in the hard class (Parmesan, Romano, Gana, etc.) and their Gouda cheese won 97.8 in the Interior Ripened (Edam, Gouda, Asiago).
In the flavored cheese category, the company's Lankaaster Chive, which has a combined taste of cheese and honey, won another first with a score of 98.1 from among 13 entries. The company placed third in the blue-veined cheese category, with its Celtic Blue, a mild tasting product which earned 97.1 among six entries.
Another third place was awarded for their goat milk feta, a soft cheese that won a score of 94 among the goat milk variety cheeses.
She was especially thrilled to learn of the standings for their Gouda cheese, aged 23 months. "To win Gouda in this country is pretty prestigious. It's such a well-known type of cheese. It's highly consumed, produced and widely acknowledged. It's like winning cheddar, the main hard cheese manufactured in Canada."
Peters-Morris had sent ahead 2.5 kg of each variety, because it's important the judges have a "good-sized sample to establish aroma, texture, flavour and appearance. Taste is about 60 per cent of the mark."
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Some of the fine flavour can be attributed to the local herds which produce the milk, such as the Peters family farm or VLN Farms, the Maple Lane farm owned by the McCuaigs and a brown Swiss cow herd to the north of the facility.
Although the factory owner gives the original recipes for the prize-winning cheeses to her employees who implement the core procedures, two have been involved right from the start, Marie Benedicte-Pretty of Glen Norman and Wilma Klein-Swormink of Winchester. "They put a lot of effort into it," said Peters-Morris.
Peters-Morris came by her cheese-making skills through her mother Johanna at the Lancaster area dairy farm where she was raised. Later, she enhanced those skills in the Netherlands, where she learned secrets of the trade from Magdelena Captein, "the best gouda maker in the Netherlands".
Back at home, she refined her techniques in the kitchen and went from a hobby scale cheese maker to a commercial cheese maker, with construction of a new building from 2007/2008 and processing with the first vat starting in Oct. 2008. Peters-Morris continues her professional cheese-making education by travelling to shows in Europe.
After winning some of the top prizes for cheese in the Royal Agricultural Winter fair, Peters-Morris says her main goal now is to keep working at the same level by producing high quality cheese.
She'll have another opportunity to pit her products against the finest at the British Empire Show in Belleville on Dec. 2 and will be competing at the Grand Prix Cheese competition in Montreal in February, a national competition that accepts only whole milk from Canadian cows.
More wins for Glengarry cheese maker at Empire
On Dec. 2, Glengarry Fine Cheese owner Peters-Morris e-mailed The AgriNews to report the company had picked up more awards that day at the British Empire Show in Belleville, with a first for their hard cheese Glengarry Fen, second with Lankaaster aged semi-firm cheese, first with Lankaaster medium and first with Celtic blue. "We are very pleased," she wrote.