Author Topic: 2 Oberlander-Käse  (Read 1791 times)

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2 Oberlander-Käse
« on: September 24, 2012, 09:56:09 PM »
Here are 2 'Laibe' (literally, loafs) of cheese I made back at the beginning of July. This is Oberlander-Käse, that's our name for it since we can't call it by it's 'real' name, Berner Alkäse, since we didn't make it in the Berner Oberland (The name is AOC)

You can look at my other thread on the subject of alpine cheeses for the recipe.

This is a washed rind cheese, we wash it with a mixture of salt water (my salt water was a little too salty, you can see the salt stains on the rind here) and wine. Normally you would use white wine, because it has no color. We used some old Marsala for this cheese, but may soon switch to using red wines made from local wild fruits to give our cheese a native characteristic. This will also give the rind a slightly more reddish tint.

The rind is fully developed and looking good. It has a nice even color, and is strong and ready to dry off. These will maybe be washed 2 more times before allowed to go totally dry for their ripening period.



You can see, no swelling in the cheese. That's good, we don't want eyes in this cheese. These cheeses were both made from the same batch of 40 gallons of fresh, raw, grass fed cow's milk.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser


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Offline JeffHamm

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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2012, 10:03:54 PM »
They look great. 

So, is that 40 UK or US gallons (180 or 150 litres?).  I'm estimating each cheese around 10 kilos if the former, and around 8 kilos if the latter?  What are the dimensions (diameter and height)?  And how long will you age these before they go to market?

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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2012, 10:30:02 PM »
40 US Gallons
If I remember right, when they came out of the brine, 1 weighed 14 1/2 pounds and the other weighed 16 1/2. You can see the faint marking on the side in one of the pictures indicating its weight of 16 1/2, they get covered over as you wash the cheese. The washing creates what is called in German Schmier, a paste of bacteria and proteins and other such that tends to conceal the markings.  But that yields a total of 31 pounds of cheese from just under 40 gallons of milk.
They're final weight will be a little less.

These cheeses will be aged a minimum of 6 months before they are ready to eat.

I don't know the dimensions of hand.
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Offline JeffHamm

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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2012, 12:30:11 AM »
Ok, I was a little over (17.6 lbs), and you've got around 15.5 lbs on average.  No big deal on the dimensions.  I just like to get a sense of size and such. 

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Offline Boofer

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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2012, 09:16:29 AM »
Great looking cheese wheels. I like that rind treatment with wine & brine. Do you have a ratio of salt or brine to the amount of wine you use? Marsala is a fairly sweet wine, no? Wouldn't you want to use a drier wine?

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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2012, 06:41:37 PM »
For the brine, you try and keep it as salty as you can, and add a handful of salt every time you put cheese in (sprinkle that handful of salt on the top of the cheese)

For the wash, I don't really have an exact ratio. Just when it 'feels right' Obviously that's not foolproof, as you can see by the salt deposits. That won't hurt anything, it's just not as nice looking as a clean rind. The wash should be fairly week in salt. Just a swig of wine will do too. No worry about the sweetness, whatever you have works. Though sweeter wines may make a creamier paste on the surface of the cheese.
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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2012, 11:41:11 PM »
Just took core samples from both of these cheeses to see how the flavor has developed at this stage.

These are the first cheeses we made this summer with our imported Alpine culture (MK 410 lyo-kultur, für die Herstellung von Berner Alpkäse in der Schwiez entwickelt)

there is a considerable difference, as is to be expected, between these cheeses and that produced earlier using the same methods but a different culture (active culture Greek Yogurt, because the Greek style yogurst have many of the same bacterial strains as a thermophilic Swiss type culture)

As you may have guessed, the activity of the culture is much improved and more predictable over a yogurt cultured cheese. The flavors generated are also much different. Even after 5 1/2 months, the yogurt cheese has a very yogurt-like flavor while the much younger cheeses produced with MK 410 culture first brought to a specific acidity already has a more complex, spicier, and much more 'Bernese' flavor.

At this stage, this cheese is suitable for American consumption, but it won't mature to its full glory for quite some time yet. By Bernese standards, it's far too young to cut open. The deep spicy flavor won't develop until after it is at least a year old.
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Offline Tomer1

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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2012, 02:08:04 AM »
How much are you selling them (as you produce fairly small amounts and mature they for so long?)
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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2012, 11:09:53 AM »
Right now we are looking at our first cheeses, made with milk bought from a local farmer, to be around $12/pound.

Our aim is to consistently drive the price down. Eventually we might step up our batch size, but for now this fits our desires.

Once we have our herd well established and our pasture well tended and enriched with the proper grasses and herbs, we should be able to bring our price down by a dollar or two.

Our current vat gives us the capacity to handle about 10 cows or so. This will not yield a huge production in a year's time (if I remember, 8000 pound range or something like that, producing seasonally) but this is one part of a larger business scheme involving a variety of heirloom-style food products such as hand made, long fermented, wild yeast breads, smoked and cured meat products, as well as apple products and maple syrup produced from the trees we already have (we aim to run about 200 taps next spring and work our way up to around 300)

It takes about 2 1/2 to 3 hours of work to make the cheese and maybe another hour or two in milking time for each cheese.
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Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2012, 02:25:10 PM »
Our aim is to consistently drive the price down.

The public associates cheaper prices with inferior products, so you should be looking at just the opposite approach.

This is handmade artisan cheese, so don't sell yourself short. IMHO, $12/pound is too low. If you decide to sell to retailers, they are going to want a 50% discount, so you will be selling it at just $6/pound. Even if you don't think that you will ever do that, you have to be prepared for that possibility. It is much more difficult to raise your prices later on. If you are buying milk (and even if you have your own cows) small scale production is going to COST $5 to $6 a pound. That doesn't include additional labor, marketing costs, delivery, rent, insurance, samples, equipment costs, etc. I make around 200 pounds a week or a little over 10,000 pounds a year.

I price all of my cheeses at $20/pound retail and I do sell to grocery stores, restaurants, etc at a discount. I sell 1/2 pound wedges at farmers markets and on our website for $10 each and I have LOTS of repeat customers. Between making cheese, cutting cheese, packaging cheese, and selling at farmers markets and festivals, I work 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week. I'm proud of my products and price them accordingly.

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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2012, 04:19:48 PM »
I appreciate the specifics here.

Personally I favored a higher cost. However, my brother is dubious of the local market's willingness to pay for good cheese.
I would rather have the cheese priced higher myself.

We figured $9/# total expenses, including our own labor costs, for production, and then have a value-added expense table made up for aging

The thing that must be considered here with this cheese, however, is that Swiss type cheeses are staple foods, and eaten in large quantities with every meal by the locals. This is especially the case in the Bernese Alps, Alpkäse has for centuries been the primary protein source. With that in mind, the cheese has to be affordable for people to actually be able to eat it in the way it is intended to be. Alpkäse is best eaten like this. We do not wish to price our product so high that it is not affordable.

My thought is to find a suitable price range that will allow the cheese to be used as it is supposed to be. For this, our cheese can't be more expensive than quality beef (not per pound, a pound of hard cheese goes much further than a pound of beef)

Now with that in mind, the price can still be higher than it is. If you can buy a decent steak for $5/#, and you could expect a reasonably sane person to eat maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of a pound of the cheese  to match 1/2# or so of meat, that puts equivalent pricing in the $15 to $20 range to remain competitive.

Also, we are a Mennonite operation. Yes that does give us liberty to increase our price, because of public image and such, but also we as a result have the desire to make our prices such that other Mennonites and Amish friends and relatives of ours will actually buy our products. We as a people like to not spend a lot of money on things. But this again is a type of cheese totally different than any other cheese people are used to. Most Americans think of cheese as a snack or ingredient, and expect to pay prices that reflect that. Why pay $20/# for a snack, when you can get something far cheaper? (selling as an ingredient to restaurant chefs is a different matter)

But we are trying to reintroduce people to the concept of cheese as a staple food and an integral part of the meal, and something that in a pinch can be a meal in itself. If you are buying snack-quality (i.e. cheap) cheeses, than this is a horrifying proposal. But if we present our cheese not as something to compare to cheep supermarket cheddar, but as something to instead compare to beef and pork and chicken as a protein source, then suddenly you open the door to much higher prices.

Yes there are smart people who know it is worth paying money for good cheese even if you are not using it as a staple food, and there are certainly chefs who understand it is worth paying a premium for artisan cheeses to include in their menus and recipes. We also hope to introduce our cheese as something people eat regularly, and in large quantity. We don't know which market will take off the best for us, but I also understand that we need to place our price in a range that will fit all three targets. And certainly I am open to the notion that our current price is too low.
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Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2012, 05:17:26 PM »
I also own a design, printing and marketing company and I have worked with lots of Mennonites. In fact my milk comes from a Mennonite dairy (JD Country Milk). So I certainly understand your desire to be affordable and thrifty. But, you have to make a little profit and feed your families. The slim margin that you have built in will not be profitable. I would start off higher, say $18 a pound. Talk to the food co-ops, the restaurants, and family owned grocery stores. But keep in mind that they will want 40-50% off for wholesale. If you sell at the local Farmers markets, you will quickly get a feel for how your cheese will sell at the higher price.

I sell in both midsized towns and small farm community farmers markets, and have very little resistance to price. Customers like my cheese and are willing to pay higher prices. You can always quietly give a little discount to fellow Mennonites and Amish to help meet your daily sustenance goals.
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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2012, 07:42:31 PM »
being as specific or unspecific as you feel comfortable with, what sort of profit margin do you aim for, all things considered, allowing for unexpected calamities and such?

It is important for our specific operation to remember how we aim to market our products. First off, we will have s store. We will produce cured meats and sausages and breads as they pair very well with these cheeses, and will probably also offer a few other foods associated with the tradition -such as sauerkraut.

We hope to sell most of our products directly through our own store and then sell at farmers market around our region as well. We may sell at a few local stores, we don't know for sure on that one.

One thing we can consider for our Mennonite market is a reduced rate when buying bulk. Alpkäse is a type of cheese that can be bought in bulk amounts without having to be eaten right away.
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Offline Tomer1

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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2012, 08:05:17 PM »
Artisinal hard cheeses not half as good as these or aged as much are sold for over 22$\pound over here.     
This is one of the reasons I got into cheesemaking accually, be able to eat decent cheese without braking the bank.  (and I needed another hobby :) 
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Re: 2 Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2012, 02:50:59 PM »
Also regarding sustenance goals, remember that I said this would require a price no higher than $20 per pound. I mentioned a target price of $15-$20 per pound, and your $18 recommendation falls squarely in the middle of this.

With cheese served as a side item with a full meal -generally with some kind of noodles, Italian style pasta, or potatoes- you wouldn't expect an average consumption to exceed 1/3#, probably be more like 1/4# I would say. That would be 4 ounces, which would supply nearly 40 g protein and 30 to 35 g fat (which is, in reality, treated mostly as protein once it enters your digestive system). That's 10 grams of protein more than you'd get out of a chicken breast, for example. This explains how it is that the residents of the Bernese Alps can get by without eating much meat.

Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser