Tumalo Farms is an all natural food. What do we mean by natural food?
By natural food we mean that the milk and cheeses we produce are free of antibiotics and hormones. We believe that natural growth patterns yield better quality milk and reduce stress on the animals. The food we feed our animals is naturally produced (without animal by-products, added hormones, antibiotics or artificial ingredients) and we use certified organic components whenever possible.
How is the milk produced? What does quality mean?
The milk used in our farmstead cheeses is produced at our own farm. We have only Saanens and French Alpine goats which are the best match to our weather and environment in Bend (Bend, OR is at 3,500 feet altitude). We feed them a small amount of nutritionally designed grain, high quality dairy alfalfa (rich in protein and calcium), orchard grass, and the animals drink only pristine, fresh well water (which we believe makes a significant difference in any cheese) from stainless steel bowls which are heated in the winter to maintain sufficient water intake. Our quality assurance program is embedded in our daily processes - we enforce 6 points of control:
- Quality In - Quality Out. We can only make great cheese if we start with the highest quality milk. We enforce a strict high quality feeding program and water intake. Our milking animals get the best feed and water money can buy. No short-cuts. Period.
- Cleanliness A Must.The animals are kept in clean pens which are regularly cleaned.
- Females Rule! The DOES (female goats) are maintained far away from the BUCKS (male goats). Bucks produce a pungent, stinky smell that we do not want in our milk or cheese. That smell we consider it a contaminant and we avoid it at all costs.
- Top Hygiene Practices. Each animal’s udder are cleaned, then a small amount of milk is removed to clear up the teat canals, and then the milk is collected by high-tech machines and stored in a bulk tank where the milk is quickly chilled to 36-38F.
- We Test Our Milk. Somatic Cell Count (SCC - naturally occurring white cells in milk from any mammal) tests are performed daily in the bulk tank and a tight threshold is maintained. If the threshold is surpassed, during the very next milking session, every single animal is tested for an elevated SCC count. The animal is identified, separated from the herd and appropriate actions are taken based on these results. If mastitis (an udder infection) or any other problem is detected, the animal is taken off the line and treated by a professional Veterinarian. We treat our animals humanely and if the protocol calls for antibiotics, the animal is taken off the line and will not return until it passes the antibiotics residual test.
- The Milk Taste Test- If we can drink it we can make cheese with it. We taste our milk for flavor, making sure we do not have the "buck" smell in it or any other funny taste.
How is Cheese Made?
Tumalo Farms produces 11 unique cheeses and each one is an artisan or hand-crafted cheese. While each cheese goes through a slightly different process (think chevre versus a semi-hard cheese), below are the basic steps for making cheese:
Step 1 - Milk Intake
Quality cheese begins with one key ingredient – quality milk. Before the cheese making process begins, incoming milk is first tested for quality and purity. It takes approximately 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese.
Step 2 - Standardization
Next, the milk is weighed, heat treated or pasteurized to ensure product safety and uniformity.
Step 3 - Starter Culture & Coagulant
Starter cultures, or good bacteria, are added to start the cheese making process. They help determine the ultimate flavor and texture of the cheese. Next, a milk-clotting enzyme called rennet is added to coagulate the milk, forming a custard-like mass.
Step 4 - Cutting
It's then cut into small pieces to begin the process of separating the liquid (whey) from the milk solids (curds). Large curds are cooked at lower temperatures, yielding softer cheeses like Tumalo Farms Chevita. Curds cut smaller are cooked at higher temperatures, yielding harder cheeses like Tumalo Farms Classico.
Step 5 - Stirring, Heating & Draining
Cheesemakers cook and stir the curds and whey until the desired temperature and firmness of the curd is achieved. The whey is then drained off, leaving a tightly formed curd.
Step 6 - Curd Transformation
Different handling techniques and salting affect how the curd is transformed into the many cheese varieties produced by Tumalo Farms.
Step 7 - Pressing
Pressing determines the characteristic shape of the cheese and helps complete the curd formation. Most cheeses are pressed in three to 12 hours, depending on their size
Step 8 - Curing
Depending on the variety and style of cheese, another step may be curing. Curing is used for aged cheeses and helps fully develop its flavor and texture. The cheese is moved to Tumalo Farms cellar that is build into a hillside on our farm and is carefully controlled for required humidity and temperature. Our semi-soft and semi-hard cheeses are aged here between 3 and 18 months.
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