Hudson Flower Cheeses

Behind The Rind Volume II: Hudson Flower

Hudson Flower Master Profile

Batches Being Offered: Batch “A”

Target Profile: Much of Hudson Flower’s flavor stems from a unique combination of herbs and hops that are rubbed on the rind during production, which combine to create an essence of citrus and pine. The rich, savory taste of the sheep milk cheese holds up well to these intense flavors. Lastly, we get a mild mushroom undertone that is commonly found in Penicillium Candidum (bloomy rind) cheeses, such as brie and camembert.

Actual Profile: This is an excellent batch of Hudson Flower. The cheese was slightly more firm and slightly more acidic than our ideal profile, but it’s well within acceptable range and makes for a delicious eating experience. The pine flavor was also a little higher than normal. All the other tastes and flavors were pretty much on target.

Spider graph of Hudson Flower graph

Figure 1 – Spider graph of Hudson Flower sensory attributes for batch “A”. Results are based on an average of 3 tasters. “Target Profile” represents a theoretical batch of Hudson Flower that is perfectly on profile.

Cheese Cave Spotlight

The Flavor of Hudson Flower

The flavor of a Hudson Flower is unique and unmistakable. When it is at perfection it will be a balanced blend of earthy mushroomness, bright citrus, and herbaceous pine. This flavor trio is a direct result of its time spent in the Murray’s Cheese Caves.

Hudson Flower comes in as a green Kinderhook Creek from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. Like other bloomy rind cheeses in our caves, Hudson Flower spends a small amount of time in the Drying Room to remove excess moisture and promote mold growth. In this case the mold is the fromage rockstar, Pencillium camemberti. This white, pillowy mold is most commonly known from its namesake, camembert. P. camemberti does some heavy lifting in the aging of Hudson Flower. One of the many tasks it performs is the creation of 1-octen-3-ol and 1-octen-3-one, which give the cheese its mushroomy flavor.

Unlike other bloomy rind cheeses in the caves, Hudson Flower is removed from the Drying Room before the mold actually forms- typically after one day. The green cheese is then coated in a blend of herbs and aromatics before being placed back into the caves. This is done so that the mold can grow around the herb mix and incorporate it into the rind. It is this herb blend that lends the cheese its two other characteristic flavors.
Hudson Flower with mold

Mold development on Hudson Flower cheeses in Murray’s Caves

The citrus notes of Hudson Flower are easy to trace, as they come from the inclusion of lemon thyme in the herb mixture. This varietal of thyme is high in citral and citronellol (lemon flavoring) that infuses into the paste of the cheese.
A non-aged Hudson Flower

An non-aged Hudson Flower, covered in the mix of herbs that give the cheese it’s citrusy flavor

Finally, the pine flavor comes from the biggest flavor bomb in Hudson Flower, hops. Hops are the flower or seed cone of the hop plant, Humulus lupulus, and most commonly used as a bittering agent in the brewing of beer. The bitterness comes from the resinous alpha acid content of the hop flower. Hudson Flower uses two varieties of hops - Amarillo® (a newfangled variety and yes that is a registered trademark) and Czech Saaz (the noble hop used in making Czech pils). Saaz is very low in alpha acids, so most of the bitterness in the cheese comes from Amarillo® which contains anywhere from 7-11% alpha acids. Murrays Cavemaster Reserve Hudson Flower

The finished product of Murray’s Cavemaster Reserve Hudson Flower

Once Hudson Flower is coated in herbs, the mold is encouraged to grow around the bits of hops and thyme while it sits in our Natural Cave. Eventually, the rind forms and the process is slowed down by transferring the cheese to the cooler Bloomy Cave, where it sits until its mold growth and flavor have been perfected.

Cheese Cave Spotlight

What makes sheep’s milk cheese so special?

Small ruminant dairy (goats and sheep) is generally still considered a niche market in the United States, and as a result, not much research is done with them in our agricultural universities. Often they are treated like “little cows” for the purposes of nutrition, and somehow the myth that goats will eat tin cans continues to propagate (they won’t, by the way -- goats are actually very picky and selective). For this reason I opted to work with dairy goats for my doctoral research, in hopes that I could, even in a minuscule way, contribute to our domestic knowledge base for management of these creatures so that the niche market could continue to thrive.
Spanish sheep
Although sheep have been farmed in the U.S. for many years, the production goals have always been for meat and wool. Farmers maintain their herds by selecting those animals that display the best combination of traits for a given production goal.Through centuries of careful selection, the top dairy sheep breeds in Europe are the East Friesian (Germany), Lacaune (France), Sarda (Italy), Chios (Greece), and British Milksheep (U.K.).
East Friesian and Lacaune are the most common dairy sheep breeds in the U.S. Our Hudson Flower is made from Kinderhook Creek, a cheese produced by Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. This farm maintains a flock of East Friesian ewes.
What makes getting milk from sheep and goats additionally rare is the challenge of seasonality. In temperate regions, goats and sheep will naturally only give birth in the spring, and lactation length is short because lambs grow quickly.). As a tradeoff, the milk itself is higher in fat and protein than average cow or goat milk. Sheep milk typically contains 6-8% fat and 5-7% protein, making it particularly wonderful for cheese production!

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