By the Maine Cheese Guild
No matter where you are you can find great Maine cheese- it’s a treasure hiding in plain sight!
About Maine Cheesemaking
Across the state, it’s easy to find Maine cheese. Maine is home to more than 80 licensed cheesemakers. Together, they provide a variety of cheeses – from fresh to aged, to soft and creamy, and many flavors and styles in between! The list of favorite cheeses is long, and the places you can find Maine cheese is too. Follow these tips from the Maine Cheese Guild and cheesemakers for choosing Maine cheese. And remember, if you’re looking for a store or restaurant that isn’t mentioned, you can also contact the cheesemaker, or inquire with your favorite place to shop or dine.
Learning the Lingo
The term ‘Artisan Cheesemaker’ means using traditional techniques. For example, handcrafted, and in smaller batches, to make cheese. It also means using milk from area farms, to highlight the special qualities of local milk and dairy.
By comparison, Maine’s largest cheese producer is considered artisan. They use a significant amount of hand work and involvement when making cheeses.
A cheesemaker’s work may range from transforming milk into cheese, to packaging the final product. From start to finish, for example, handiwork can be separating cheese from whey. Or, it may include forming the cheese into shapes. Such as wheels, blocks, and pyramids.
Finally, cheesemakers may also care for cheese ripening to ensure the best flavors. In particular, for aged cheeses, this involves turning, spacing and sorting cheeses. It also means managing the climate for a particular cheese batch and type. In cheese lingo, this task is affinage.
In addition to handcraftsmanship, how and where cheesmakers source milk adds distinction. For example, some cheesemakers have their own farms. They are farmstead creameries. In Maine farmstead creameries use milk from herds of goats, sheep, cows and even water buffalo!
On the other hand, not all cheesemakers have a farm. Instead, they may buy Maine milk from farms. Some creameries are both farmstead and artisan. This means they buy milk to supplement their farm supply. This can help them make more cheeses, or different recipes.
Where to find these tasty creations? It is easier than you might think!
There are cheesemakers across Maine making cheeses as varied as Maine farms and creameries. You can meet many of these local businesses while exploring Maine culinary events. For example, the Maine Cheese Guild hosts the Maine Cheese Festival and Open Creamery Day each fall. Those annual events are a great way to explore Maine cheeses. But, there are plenty of ways to choose cheeses across the state throughout the year.
Find Maine cheeses at a farmstand and farmers’ markets
Where can you find these delicious products? Some great places to start, for example, are at cheesemakers’ farm stands. If you are a fan of blue and French inspired cheeses, Spring Day Creamery in Durham has a self-serve farmstand. Along Maine’s Midcoast Cheese Trail in Waldo, Coppertail Farm’s herd of goats produce lovely milk that becomes fresh chevres, soaps, lotions and new line of ice cream. They also use cow milk from a local creamery. In central Maine, The Milkhouse’s Jersey cows produce fine yogurts, and their farm store is stocked with lots of local foods and their farm meats too.
Another option to purchase directly from the maker is going to farmers’ markets. Cheesemakers sell year-round at many Maine farmers’ markets of all sizes. For example, larger markets in Portland and Brunswick. Or smaller ones in Dover Foxcroft and Belgrade Lakes.
Find Maine Cheese at specialty shops, groceries, and supermarkets
More Maine cheeses are easy to spot on shelves of fine food and grocery shops. Try the the newly opened Butchers and Bakers in Brunswick, and Nibblesford Cheese Shop in Biddeford. Or, visit The Cheese Iron in Scarborough and Bangor Wine and Cheese. Wherever you go, you’ll find Maine cheese choices and pairing ideas, and answers to common questions too!
Grocery shops large and small across the state carry Maine cheeses. You can look in the specialty foods section or in the deli case. Some suggested starting places are Solo Cucina Market in South Portland, Tradewinds Market in Blue Hill, and Five Island Farm in Georgetown.
Locate local cheese on the menu – across the state!
Restaurants and cafes feature Maine cheeses on charcuterie boards and cheese courses. For example, Alice and Lulu’s in Sugarloaf Village explores unique pairings with local sourdough breads. Meridian’s Kitchen and Bar in Fairfield serves Maine cheeses on their menu and sells it at their store. In Bangor, the Fiddlehead Restaurant features Maine cheeses on a rotating basis on their cheese plate and throughout the menu.