Twin Sisters Creamery Visit
Twin Sisters Creamery is a charming blue cheese creamery in Ferndale, Washington. Kim (a cheesemaker and all around strategy genius), Amanda (Bramble Berry’s Creative Director) and I all went out on a dark and stormy night to learn all about cheese. We came away with full bellies and an enhanced appreciation for the science of cheesemaking.
I already knew that blue cheesemaking was a difficult and cumbersome process, but it wasn’t until I saw the full scope of the blue cheese curing room and the blue cheese cave that I fully grasped the complexity of a commercial blue cheese operation. Whoah! Was it ever so different than me and my teensy 6 gallon batches.
The owners Jeff and Lindsay opened the creamery in July 2015 and started making cheese in November of that year. Lindsay had been in the cheese industry for years, on the selling side of things, as a cheese distributor and one of just 900 American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professionals.
She recognized a hole in the marketplace for a Pacific Northwest blue cheese that was made with raw, unpasteurized milk and had a more mild flavor profile. So she and Jeff wrote up a business plan, hired a consultant (smart!) and went into (prudent) debt with the help of an SBA loan to follow their dreams of self employment and a more balanced life for their two twin girls. Yes, Twin Sisters Creamery is named after their two twin girls.
Lindsay said more than a few times that cheesemaking was an amazing mix of science and art (just like soapmaking). In fact, she reminded us many times in the night that all cheese takes just four ingredients: milk, rennet, culture and salt. The difference in taste comes from the culture used, curing time and conditions.
For example, though Lindsay didn’t share quite all of her secrets, since I’ve made blue, I know that the basic process involves making the cheese curds, draining the cheese curds, lightly pressing the curds, storing the cheese block and then spearing the cheese with tiny holes to allow the mold to fully permeate through. My cheese got tons of mold all over it. After about ten days, you wipe off all the mold and let it go again.
Where Twin Sisters changes the process and makes it their own is that they stop the second molding and put the cheese into air-locked bags to let the blue flavor be present, but in a mild, creamy way instead of that in-your-face way that some blues (eh hem, mine) get. The science part of cheesemaking is fantastically interesting. Precision is your friend when it comes to making batches as big as they make as well. You’d never want to mess up one of their batches because of the size of them.
They produce 30,000 lbs of cheese a year and carry about 75 different cheeses in their shop. Our tasting was a whirlwind through wash rind cheeses, soft rind cheeses (think brie), goat cheeses, cheddar cheeses and flavored cheeses. For each cheese, there was a thoughtful added flavor pairing to help bring out the unique flavor in each cheese.
We loved the cheese tasting but came away inspired by this small business couple and the drive and passion they have for their craft. We’re hoping to convince Lindsay to come to the Bramble Berry Studio to make soap with her blue cheese whey; got any suggestions on what fragrance we should pair with it?! I’m thinking Vanilla Select + Black Pepper essential oil? I’m open to suggestions.