Most of us live within a few miles of several microbreweries and can list dozens of our favorite craft beers. But can you name your favorite micro-creamery?
Located in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, Cosmic Wheel Creamery is keeping the tradition of farmstead small-batch cheese making alive — a craft that shares not only the science of fermentation with brewing but also the art of combining local ingredients for one-of-a-kind taste.
Farmers market shoppers and CSA enthusiasts might recognize Cosmic Wheel Creamery as the cheese-making entity of Turnip Rock Farm. Farm owners Rama Hoffpauir and Josh Bryceson cultivate 25 acres of certified-organic vegetables on their 80-acre farm about an hour east of Minneapolis, where they also raise pigs, chicken and cattle.
In addition to being one of a shrinking few on-farm cheesemakers, Rama sets her work apart by focusing on raw-milk aged cheeses, meaning the milk is not pasteurized unlike most dairy products available in the United States. Rather than pasteurizing (cooking) the milk before cheesemaking, Rama ages her raw-milk cheeses for at least 60 days to protect us cheese lovers from any potentially harmful pathogens. Raw milk and raw-milk cheeses contain many healthful “good bacteria” and add “terroir” or regional flavor from the area where they were made.
Raw milk cheeses aging at Cosmic Wheel Creamery.
The milk used by Cosmic Wheel Creamery comes from their small herd of 100% grass-fed Jersey breed cows, bringing truly unique flavors to the cheeses. You can actually taste the difference between the “Moonshadow” alpine-style cheese made when the cows are eating hay in early spring and the “Moonglow” alpine-style cheese made when the cows are eating fresh pasture in the summer.
On top of flavor and quality, sustainability is also at the core of Cosmic Wheel’s mission.
We are trying to create a whole farm ecosystem in which fertility for our pastures and vegetables is provided by composted manure and bedding from our cows,” Rama said. “We feed whey from the cheese-making to our pigs, and we practice multi-species rotational grazing. We are working to improve the land and surrounding environment, grow healthy food and care for the well-being of our animals.”
Rama makes Manchego-style, English-style, Gruyere-style and creamy natural rind-aged cheeses as well as a seasonal selection of fresh cheeses. Her cheeses are excellent on their own for desserts or cheese boards or for a decadent fall grilled cheese sandwich from Market Chef Jenny Breen, here.
You can find Cosmic Wheel Creamery at the Mill City Farmers Market (704 S. 2nd St.) every other Saturday, including Oct. 5 and Oct. 19, and at the indoor winter markets starting in November. Get their Market schedule and learn more here.