Written by Lilani Goonesena.
Imagine tasting the same cheese side by side, just at different stages in its life. That’s what we were treated to – a ‘vertical’ cheese tasting with King Island Dairy’s head cheesemaker, Ueli Berger. He brought five cheeses from King Island Dairy and Tasmanian Heritage, each at different maturation stages so we could appreciate the effects age has on the cheese.
King Island Dairy only uses its own dairy cows. “If we run out of milk, we stop making cheese”, says Ueli. “King Island has this beautiful microclimate to produce a special milk. As an island we hardly ever get frost so the grass grows all the time and the cows can be out there eating fresh grass all the time”.
Ueli also gave us some advice about choosing cheeses and the ideal ripeness at which soft cheeses should be consumed.
“The closer the cheese is to it’s best before date the closer it is to it’s optimum ripeness. Especially with the white mould cheeses, so my recommendation is to always look for cheese as close to the best before date as possible if you want to eat it straight away”.
With cheddars, King Island Dairy has three – aged four months, 12 months and two years. Ueli says it’s important to balance the moisture content to ensure that the two-year old cheddar can last the distance.
Kind Island Dairy has two washed rind cheeses. These are rubbed with a unique brine containing brevi-bacterium linens to bring out the orangish colour on the surface and develop distinct earthy flavours in the cheese.
Altogether, it was an insightful tasting. Dale Sutton, a chef at momofuku seiobo in Sydney, said, “It was really interesting to see what mould does to a cheese. Ueli Berger’s knowledge was amazing, we learned about the process from start to end and all the little variants – the shape, size, temperature, humidity – that goes into creating a cheese”.
About Ueli Berger:
Swiss-born Ueli Berger has an inexhaustible passion for cheesemaking which began very early in life. As the grandson of a cheesemaker and son of a dairy farmer, his European childhood provided plenty of opportunities to explore his craft.
After studying cheesemaking in Switzerland for three years, Ueli was chosen from a group of 48 cheesemakers to work for an Australian soft cheese manufacturer. In 1998, he moved to King Island to become King Island Dairy’s head cheesemaker.
With a career now spanning more than 25 years, Ueli has earned acclaim both nationally and internationally.