November Masthead
Cheese & Fromage:
Common Cultures

Do you like great food? History? Cheese? Then you must go to Montr�al for ACS 2011. Montr�al is a fabulous and fun city. Click on the image below and take a look at what's in store...

Montr�al Image
A Montr�al Preview

Discounted NASFT Webinar
 on Foodservice: Nov. 10

The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade is offering ACS members a discounted rate of $45 (reduced from $90) on an upcoming webinar: "Considering Foodservice? Navigating the Waters and Plans for Expansion." The webinar will be held on Wednesday, November 10 at 2:00 PM EST.

To access your discounted rate, simply follow the link above to register online, and enter code "ACS" at checkout.

Win Tickets to the National Wine Experience in D.C.!

ACS heads to Washington, D.C. on November 20 to sample cheese at the National Wine Experience...and we have tickets to share!

Tell us about your favorite wine and cheese pairing on Facebook, and you could win two tickets to the event (a $200 value). Use the tickets yourself, or share them with friends in the D.C. area. We hope to see you there!

Cheese Meets Wine

In the spirit of ACS' presence at the upcoming National Wine Experience, the staff from Pairings Wine & Cheese have suggested pairings of wines alongside two cheeses that ACS staff may sample at the event. If you can't attend, be sure to try these pairings at home! Click on the links below for full details.

Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog paired with Liparita Cellars' 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

Cowgirl Creamery Devil's Gultch paired with White Oak Vineyard's 2005 Merlot

Look for a special holiday pairing guide featuring our three 2010 "Best of Show" winners in the December issue of CheeseBytes! Pairings of wine, beer, and accompaniments will come from author Laura Werlin, brewmaster Garrett Oliver; and restaurateur Brian Keyser.

Wine and Cheese

Proposed ACS Bylaws Amendment

ACS is in the process of upgrading its website and member database. In order to streamline administrative functions and more efficiently process new and renewed memberships, the Board of Directors wishes to amend the current bylaws in "Article V, Section 2: Dues Year" to give ACS the flexibility to simplify and streamline its annual dues billing process. This change would move ACS to an annual dues billing cycle for all members (January through December). It will not impact dues pricing. Current members' dues would be pro-rated to reflect any change in the billing cycle. The proposed bylaws change is as follows:

Current Bylaws
The dues year for each category of membership shall be from the month or anniversary that the membership application and remittance are received at the administrative offices through the following twelve months thereafter.

Proposed Bylaws
The dues of the members of this association shall be on a per annum basis and shall be payable annually upon receipt of notice thereof.


All eligible voting members will receive a ballot to vote on the amendment in the coming weeks.

FDA Seeking Nominations for Food Advisory Committee

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has posted a vacancy on its Food Advisory Committee, and is seeking nominations to fill the position. The Food Advisory Committee makes recommendations to the FDA on food safety, food science, and other food-related health issues. Candidates must be technically qualified experts in their field, have experience analyzing detailed scientific data, and be able to understand its public health significance.

ACS is working to identify potential candidates from amongst our membership for this role. If you would like to be considered for a nomination through ACS, contact Michelle Lee. Interested candidates may also apply directly to the FDA. If you choose to apply independently, please advise ACS so that we can get a sense of member interest in such opportunities.
New Member Profile:
Sullivan's Pond Farm
by Liz Campbell


"I've always been interested in primitive techniques, anything you can do from beginning to end without buying things," says Rona Sullivan, whose roots in Virginia date back to the 1700s. Back then, settlers crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains en route to new land, but her ancestors settled in this fertile region, believing they had found what they sought.

About ten years ago, Rona, husband Tim and their son, Cole, set down their own roots at Sullivan's Pond Farm, at the convergence of the Rappahannock and Chesapeake Bay. In this verdant grassland, Rona started pursuing her dream: to make cheese from the milk of... (read more)


Congratulations to Michael Petermann, winner of the Montreal prize package awarded at the ACS Conference in Seattle! Michael was selected randomly from among the attendees at the annual ACS Business Luncheon in Seattle. He is President of Cheese and Deli Sales, Inc. in Elmhurst, IL.

Michael will receive airfare to Montreal for the 28th annual ACS Conference & Competition; complimentary conference registration; a stay at Le Westin Montreal; a private city tour; dinner for two at Chez L'Epicier; and more. Prizes were generously contributed by Tourisme Montreal, Air Canada, Le Westin Montreal, and Chef Laurent Godbout.

Cheese in the News

Missouri Dairy Defies Order on Raw Milk Cheese - Food Safety News, Nov. 2
Estrella Family Creamery Shut Down by FDA - Seattle Times, Oct. 25

Setting Goals for 2011
Christine Hyatt

Greetings Fellow ACS Members,

Autumn is a time for celebrating the harvest and anticipating the new-ness of the coming year. There was definitely both celebration and anticipation of things to come at the recent Board meeting in Montr�al, the host city of the 2011 ACS Conference, Cheese & Fromage: Common Cultures. We explored the sights, sounds, and flavors of one of the most historic and cosmopolitan cities in North America, and laid the groundwork for a conference you won't want to miss!

Our fall board meeting was fruitful and forward-looking. Calling upon data from the 2009 member survey and notes from Town Hall meetings in Austin and Seattle, the Board focused on strategic priorities and set three "big" goals for 2011: 

  1. Creating an information foundation for ACS by upgrading our database, website, and systems.
  2. Delivering timely, relevant, and compelling educational materials designed to meet our members' desire to know more.
  3. Launching "American Cheese Week," a week long celebration of American cheese with events created and produced by ACS members in their own communities around the country. 

I hope you'll read my full letter with more details about these exciting initiatives on the ACS website.

With our organizational eye on these three big goals, how can members help? Please provide feedback on our 2010 Member Survey, which will be coming your way next week. Your ideas and opinions will inform how these goals will come to fruition. Next, think about how you might participate in the variety of new offerings and opportunities coming your way from ACS.

Wishing you a harmonious and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving!

Christine Hyatt


Selling a Story

cheese conference

What separates a great cheese shop from a good one?  Certainly the basics have to be there: selection of cheeses, visually engaging displays, and convenience of location and hours. But all things being equal, it is the service provided that makes the difference.

Knowledgeable staff with a genuine desire to assist customers are the last point of contact before cheese reaches the consumer. As a retailer, you want staff to sell. As a cheesemaker, you can help by making sure retailers know your products. The best way to achieve both of these goals is through information-sharing. The more information you, as a cheesemaker, can pass along to retailers carrying your cheeses, the more they can share with their customers -- and the greater advocates they will be for your products. With holiday sales ramping up, there is no better time to implement a few simple ideas to increase sales:

  1.  Tell a story. In addition to the basic information on milk source, make method, aging, and awards, share the tale of how you developed the cheese, your inspiration, or how the name came to be. The more personal and unique, the more engaging to consumers.
  2. Add value. Provide tips and ideas for storing, serving, pairing, even cooking with your cheeses. Send these to retailers via email and add them to your labels, or create take-away cards for point-of-sale. Easier is better for busy shoppers and shopkeepers.
  3. Find a partner. Make your marketing dollars go further by partnering with another producer in your area. Promote your products together to reach twice the customers with the same marketing dollars.

Working together, cheesemakers and retailers can increase sales by offering a unique value proposition that gives consumers much more than a piece of cheese -- a rich and engaging experience.


Nora Weiser

Executive Director


Member Update & Cheesemaker Survey

On Tuesday, ACS President Christine Hyatt shared a member update on recent creamery inspections, along with a list of valuable member resources on best practices, inspection preparedness, recalls, and general information to share with colleagues and customers.

As part of ACS's efforts to provide members with the latest data on FDA audit and inspection trends, we are asking that all cheesemakers take the time to complete an important cheesemaker survey. If you have not already completed this survey, please do so by November 10 (one submission per company, please). Complete survey data will be shared with members in the December issue of CheeseBytes.

Sending Cheeses Over the Border

With our conference and competition crossing the border into Montral next year, I suspect you're going to be receiving many reminders about things you will need to do to make that crossing a smooth one for both you and your cheeses. Transporting U.S. cheeses into Qu�bec looks will be a pretty well-choreographed event, but it is going to have more moving parts than you're used to. It will take a little extra time to ship, and there might some extra paperwork.

One major change will be in the shipping. Cheeses will need to be consolidated on the U.S. side of the border, and then trucked up to Montral as a single shipment. Right now, this means that everyone will have to ship their product to arrive on the same day, rather than having the 2-day leeway you've been accustomed to.

For this reason, it will be extra important in 2011 that you do as great a job of properly packing and protecting your entries as you did in 2010. We're hoping that the additional time will be measured in hours. At most, it could be an extra full day. As the arrangements fall into place, we will provide you with more details.

Palais des Congr�s de Montr�al is going to be an excellent venue for both the Conference and Judging & Competition. The trailers that we traditionally use as refrigerated space will be docked just feet from the prep area for judging. The parcels containing your entries should never see daylight from the time we receive them in the U.S. through the entire rest of their journey, from receiving to the competition and into the Festival of Cheese.

We want to encourage our cheesemaker members to start thinking about this important and exciting conference venue, and this historic moment when ACS will take a step further into the international spotlight. We're expecting a record turnout from Canadian producers, and we look forward to this opportunity for ACS to fully and dramatically showcase the tastiest and most creative work in all of the Americas.


David Grotenstein
Judging & Competition Chair
Ask Dr. Cheese: Brine Basics

You can't make good cheese without salt, but how much is enough? Neville McNaughton, an industry consultant and president of CheezSorce in St. Louis, MO, discusses the brining process. The interviewer is San Francisco Chronicle cheese columnist Janet Fletcher.


Is a cheese brine always saturated?

There are some cheeses done in unsaturated brines, like very soft cheeses and mozzarellas, but in general we would use a saturated brine. It's the most healthy and stable. The minute you move into unsaturated brine, maintaining them in a healthy state is problematic.

What factors determine how long to brine?

Style of cheese is important. The mesophilic makes, like Goudas and Edams, require significantly more time than alpine cheeses -- almost by a factor of two. With mesophilic makes, the cultures are more proteolytic and the cheese benefits from having more salt.

Time in the brine is a function of surface to volume. A Brie that is 12 inches across and 1-1/4 inches thick is brined in an hour or less. A Gouda that is 12 inches across and 4 inches thick might be in brine for 60 hours. But you need to understand the whole cheese system. I see in the literature "X number of pounds and time per pound," but formulas don't work because they don't distinguish between alpine and mesophilic styles or surface-to-volume ratios. At best, they are a guide.


How do you maintain a brine in good condition?

There should be undissolved salt on the bottom of the brine. That's how you know it's saturated. Agitate it every day whether you use it or not. If you don't stir it, it becomes weak at the top because it absorbs moisture from the air, and that's where the crud (yeast, mold and bacteria) grows. Run a clean hand or brush around the edge of the brine tank every day to stop it from going bad. Lowering the pH of the brine once a month to below 4.2 will improve the health of your brine. It's a shock treatment. The pH comes back up again quickly. Brines reflect the pH of the cheese you put into them.

Cheese in brine takes up salt and gives up moisture. Consequently, the brine gets weaker and grows in volume, so salt must be added to maintain strength. Skim the brine regularly. Solid particles should not be allowed to stay in brine.


Questions for Dr. Cheese? Whether you are a cheesemaker with technical questions, or an enthusiast simply looking to expand your basic cheese knowledge, please send us your questions. We'll try to answer them in a future issue of CheeseBytes. We'd love to hear from you!

Remembering Jim Boyce

Jim BoyceThe ACS community was saddened to learn of the passing of James (Jim) Boyce, owner of Marin French Cheese Company, on September 26. Boyce purchased Marin French Cheese Company (the oldest continuously operating cheese factory in the United States) in 1998. Under his leadership, the company's cheeses garnered many awards, including that of World Champion Brie in 2005 -- the first time an American cheese won in the Brie category.

In the last five years, Marin French Cheese Company has entered 232 cheeses in the annual ACS Judging & Competition, winning a total of 61 awards -- including ten 1st place awards.

Jim was a vibrant member of ACS and the California Artisan Cheese Guild. He brought a proud, competitive spirit to the industry, and ACS members across the country enjoyed his friendship. He will be greatly missed. Read more about Jim's life in a post from cheesemonger Gordon Edgar, as well as a remembrance in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Support the ACE Foundation this Season

While ACS is best-known for the educational panels, renowned speakers, tasting sessions, and networking opportunities offered each summer at our annual conference, we are dedicated to growing our programming to provide top-notch educational opportunities year-round. To that end, the ACS Board of Directors recently created a new Education Committee to focus on education as a top priority for the organization.

How will this be accomplished? In part, with your charitable support of the American Cheese Education (ACE) Foundation. The ACE Foundation allows individuals to make tax-deductible donations to support ACS educational activities -- from underwriting the creation of podcasts featuring industry experts and authors, to helping ACS grow its presence and educational outreach at regional events. Donations will even help support the creation and launch of the first ever American Cheese Week.

Consider joining the growing number of generous donors devoted to creating new educational opportunities for all ACS members, and remember the ACE Foundation when planning your charitable giving this holiday season.


ACE Foundation
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