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Cheese From Contented Cows

By Nancy Smith,

Secretary, Farm to Family Naturally

 

I admit it.  I’m a huge fan of cheese–any cheese.   But really high quality local cheese made from creamy Jersey cows who are grass-fed and free to roam in sunny pastures?  Now that’s good cheese!

If you came to our Food and Farms Expo in September, you probably had a taste of Marcoot Jersey Creamery’s outstanding cheese.   Now you can get this great cheese at Sappington Farmers’ Market.  The store carries four raw-milk cheeses and one pasteurized cheese from Marcoot.  The mellow Gouda is pasteurized, and Shorty’s Pride Cheddar, Tomme, Alpine and Heritage are cave-aged for a minimum of 60 days, up to 12 months.  This lengthy aging process ensures a safe and rich-tasting product.  One is reminded of great European cheeses.

The “Markut” family sailed from Switzerland to this country in the 1800s, landing finally in the sparsely inhabited Bond-Madison county area of southern Illinois.  They later changed the spelling of their name to Marcoot.  Ancestors of today’s Marcoot family had Jersey cattle in the mid-1800s.  Seven generations of the Marcoot family have raised Jersey cattle.

Jersey cattle are famous for their gentleness and the creaminess of their milk.  That creaminess leads to exceptional cheese products as well. Jersey cows were originally bred for cheese-making.

In March 2010, Marcoot Jersey Creamery made their first wheels of cheese.  All Marcoot cheese is made solely from the milk of their own registered Jersey grass-fed cattle.  The sixty milking Jersey cows enjoy pasturing on the paddocks on a variety of grasses which provide abundant natural nutrition. No hormones are given to the cattle and homeopathic remedies are the first line of defense when necessary.

It is believed that raw milk products from healthy, grass-fed animals gives the consumer an adaptive advantage.  Raw milk provides fat-soluble nutrients, calcium and other minerals that are by and large in short supply in the modern diet.

Marcoot’s raw milk cheeses are aged in the aging cave on the farm, which is modeled after the man-made cheese caves in Switzerland.  The Marcoots welcome visitors to their farm, where glass viewing areas allow them to see the fascinating cheese-making process.   The calves are housed near the cheese-making area, and guests are also invited to meet the calves.  A visit to Marcoot Jersey Creamery would make a great family field trip.  The Marcoot family is dedicated to making good cheese and also to educating the public about healthy eating, cheese-making and sustainable farming.

Sappington Farmers’ Market is located at 8400 Watson Road, between Elm Ave. and Laclede Station Road.

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