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Cypress Grove Goat Cheese

Learn how one woman created a whole new culture in California!


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They say necessity is the mother of invention, and for Mary Keehn, a single mother of four, her need was an alternative milk source. Back in the 1970s, there weren't a lot of choices in rural Humboldt County—until she saw what her neighbors were using for brush control: goats!

Mary ended up getting two goats from her neighbors, and with those two goats came two more and two more and so on until Mary found herself with a lot of goats—and a lot of goat milk. That's when she started experimenting with cheesemaking. In 1983, Mary officially opened Cypress Grove Goat Cheese. Her company today is the leading producer of American goat cheese and Mary is known as a pioneer in the world of artisanal cheesemaking.

Cypress Grove Goat Cheese milks more than 900 goats at what they affectionately call their "country club" for goats in Humboldt County. The goats are milked each day to the soft melodies of slow jazz, which provides a calming routine for both humans and animals. And while the goats are enjoying their own notes at the dairy, Mary and her team are taking note of the surrounding area—including that famous foggy coastline—to create cheeses with fun names like Purple Haze and Humboldt Fog.

In fact, Humboldt Fog has become their best-known cheese. It has a distinctive vegetable ash in the middle and all around to control the pH level and thus the flavor of the cheese as it ages. Humboldt Fog is one of the most labor-intensive cheeses around. It's made by hand and turned every day, for weeks, until it forms its cakelike appearance.

The folks at Cypress Grove Goat Cheese are reinventing the wheel—the cheese wheel, that is—with a mantra we can all appreciate. Says Mary, "We take our fun and our cheese seriously, because if you don't have a good time along the way, what's the point?"

For more information, visit www.cypressgrovecheese.com.


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