At Hillsborough Cheese Company we make both goats’ milk and cows’ milk cheeses. We differ from other local cheesemakers in that we do not maintain our own milking herds; instead we purchase our milk fresh each week from local farmers. The reasons for this are two-fold: first, by purchasing our milk locally, we help support area farmers and continue our commitment to our local food economy. Second, because we are such a small operation, we’ve decided to focus foremost on hands-on, artisanal cheesemaking rather than the added commitment of maintaining large milking herds (and we have the utmost respect for those who do both!).
We make primarily traditional European-style cheeses, but occasionally we experiment with different cheese blends to suit local tastes. Our regularly produced cheeses can be broken down into three categories: soft, fresh cheeses, bloomy-rind cheeses, and aged cheeses. Check out some of the many varieties of cheese we make:
- Chevre – one of our most popular cheeses, our chevre is made from fresh, pasteurized local goat milk, cheese cultures, and vegetable rennet. We make plain chevre (lightly flavored with salt), jalapeño chevre, sundried-tomato chevre, and a herbed chevre rolled in Herbes de Provence. At different times of the year we also experiment with season-specific specialty flavors like strawberry or pumpkin spice. These various flavors of chevre are great for snacking, make wonderful additions to any cheese plate, and are perfect for cooking (chevre cheesecake anyone?).
- Bloomin’ Sweet Ash – while we may sell more chevre, we are particularly known for our bloomy-rind cheeses, and Sweet Ash is by far the most popular. Made in the traditional Valencay style from fresh, pasteurized local goat milk, cheese cultures, and vegetable rennet, our distinctive Sweet Ash cheese gets its namesake sweetness from an application of food-grade vegetable ash at the beginning of their aging period. We age our Sweet Ash at least 21 days until a suitable bloomy rind has formed, flipping the cheeses often to encourage even and robust bloom growth. The result is a creamy, gooey layer surrounding a delicious, chevre-like spreadable center that alternates between notes of sweetness and bitterness. Sweet Ash cheeses are the perfect party cheese, and are great served plain with crackers or a nice crusty piece of French bread. For a fun twist serve Sweet Ash on slices of apples instead of crackers and drizzle with some fresh honey.
- Bloomin’ Lunitas – this cheese is the “cousin” of our Bloomin’ Sweet Ash. Crafted in the Chaource style, the Lunitas is made from fresh, pasteurized local cows’ milk following the exact same recipe as our Sweet Ash. Aside from the obvious difference in milk type, two key aspects set Lunitas apart from Sweet Ash; a distinctive cylindrical shape and a lack of vegetable ash. Lunitas is aged in the same manner and length as Sweet Ash, and the result is a beautiful little round of cheese with a bloomy rind and a melt-in-your-mouth interior. Lunitas is a great cheese to serve alongside Sweet Ash so your guests can see how virtually the same recipe made with different milks can produce two different styles of cheese.
- Bloomin’ Decadence – our popular Camembert-style cheese, made with fresh, pasteurized local cows’ milk, cheese cultures, and vegetable rennet. Most people upon first look would think our Decadence is a brie, but in fact it is a camembert-style cheese. A key difference between a camembert and a brie is size – although the recipes for both are largely identical. Camembert’s small size allows it to ripen faster and develop a stronger taste and more pungent odor than brie. Our small wheels are an elegant addition to a dinner party, and are especially delicious served with honey or a fresh fruit jam.
- Betta’ Feta – our Feta is made from fresh, pasteurized local cows’ milk and is dry-salted and aged before being brined to salty perfection. Unlike the dry, “crumbly” Feta you might be used to finding at the supermarket, our Feta is creamy, moist, and thick, and makes the perfect addition to pasta or salads. Try using our Feta in spanakopita for a great Greek treat!
- Fresh cheeses - aside from our chevre, we offer a variety of other fresh cheeses (meant to be consumed within a few days of production). We make a cows’ milk mozzarella that we stretch by hand, a cows’ milk fromage blanc that is very similar to cream cheese, and a cows’ milk Farmer’s cheese that is a versatile crowd-pleaser, especially with kids.
- Aged cheeses – we make a variety of aged, pasteurized cheeses from primarily cows’ milk. Nearly all of our aged cheeses are aged at least sixty days, but oftentimes much longer in order to get that “perfect” taste. We rotate styles but some of our more regular offerings include Sophie’s Choice (a cows’ milk Gouda), Chicken Bridge (a cows’ milk Manchego-style) and Carolina Blue (a cows’ milk blue). We sell our aged cheeses almost exclusively at our various farmers’ markets, so come by to see what we have each week.
- Specialty cheeses – throughout the year we make different specialty cheeses and cheese spreads to suit our customers’ tastes. Offerings include a spicy pimiento cheese made with jalapeño chevre (instead of mayonnaise), seasonal honey-fig chevre (and other local fruit flavors), and tangy Mediterranean spread.