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Maine's Gourmet Cheeses

Oh, sure, you can have some ordinary, everyday cheese. But come to Maine and you can try something a little more, shall we say, off-beat? Like Cambozola and Cranberry Foxtrot, Cyclone and Granite Kiss or even some sheep-milk yogurt.

For decades, a growing number of Maine cheesemakers have been turning out plenty of cheese from cow, goat and sheep milk. Today, the Maine Cheese Guild – a statewide trade group – has more than 50 member farms making cheese. There’s even a water-buffalo creamery! Those creameries make traditional favorites like chevre and cheddar alongside unique cheeses whipped up by individual farms. Maine cheese continues to garner awards and win friends, especially among Mainers and visitors willing to do a little exploring.

True cheese fans should journey to the annual Maine Cheese Festival, which moves to various locations around the state, and is sponsored by the Cheese Guild. Many Guild cheesemakers bring their wares to the festival, which also includes Maine beer, wine, cider and other artisanal food.

Cheese lovers shouldn’t be shy about going to the source. Many cheese-making farms welcome visitors or have farm stands where their cheese and yogurt is on sale. Check the Cheese Guild and individual farms’ websites for information on open days and hours. And each October, there is an Open Creamery Day when creameries open their doors and their barns, inviting the public to meet the animals that make the milk, and responsibly tour the creameries to learn about the tradition of Maine cheese making.

Here are a few Cheese Guild members across the state:

Crooked Face Creamery in Skowhegan is a woman-run, small batch creamery and the shop sells their Jersey-milk cheeses like the award-winning fresh ricottas and aged cheese like cheddar and gouda.

Fuzzy Udder Creamery in the central Maine town of Whitefield makes cow, goat and sheep cheese with cool names like Tempest, Frost Heave, Windswept and Waldo Smog. They also make sheep’s milk yogurt.

Hatch Knoll Farm & Garden Side Dairy – This family farm in Jonesboro in Downeast Maine creates cow and goat cheese including Camembert, Feta, Cheddar and others. The farm also welcomes camping by folks wanting to explore the farm.

Lakin’s Gorges Cheese can be found on East Forty Farm in Waldoboro where you can shop in The Cheese Hut for their cow’s milk cheese like the Prix de Diane, a soft-ripened decadent cheese.

ME Water Buffalo Co. – This farm in Appleton on Maine’s MidCoast features several Italian-style cheeses such as Mozzarella made from the milk of gigantic water buffalo.

Silvery Moon Creamery – Based at the very popular Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook (just outside Portland), Silvery Moon produces many cow cheeses including cheese curds, bloomy rind cheese including Camembert and Brie and aged cheese such as Provolone. Visitors can also enjoy lunch and ice cream at the farm store and cross-country ski on its trails.

Three Charm Farm – In Alfred in far-southern Maine, this small family farm makes goat cheese and yogurt including Chevre, Feta, Ricotta and Queso Blanco. The farm is open on Saturdays for tours.

Turning Page Farm – This farm in Monson in north-central Maine offers goat cheeses including chevre and feta as well as home-brewed beer, goat soap and goat school – a two-day course on goat-raising.

Several shops around the state are members of the Cheese Guild and offer Maine cheese. Some include The Cheese Iron in Scarborough, Morning Glory Natural Foods in Brunswick and Five Islands Farm in the coastal town of Georgetown.

Another sure-fire spot to find Maine cheese is at many of the state’s farmers markets.

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