Canada is known for many things. Cold winters, ketchup chips, our politeness, milk from bags, poutine, hockey, the 'Biebs', and the list goes on and on and on. However, one of our hidden treasures that not many people may be aware about is our rich history in cheese making! Canadian cheese is creative, expressive, and as diverse as the Canadians who make it, so as we are about to celebrate our nation's 150th birthday I have partnered with the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) to highlight three distinct Canadian cheeses from our country's cheese makers.
I am personally a huge fan of cheese and is probably one of the few food items I could not live without. Cheese is used in so many aspects of my favourite dishes such as on pastas, dips, dessert, and of course pizza! As it's become so intertwined into my daily life and consumption, it's also good to know a little bit more about its history and how Canadian cheese making came to be.
Historically speaking, Canadian cheese making is woven from our country's rich French and English heritage. Cheese making in Canada can be traced back to the early 1600s when French explorer and founder of the Quebec settlements, Samuel de Champlain first introduced cattle to the region. However, it wasn't until 1864 when American immigrant Harvey Farrington employed new technology to set up the very first Canadian cheese factory, "The Pioneer" in Norwich, Ontario. By the year of Confederation in 1867, over 200 cheese factories were now established in Ontario alone and the foundation for crafting distinctly Canadian cheese was set.
Fast forward to 2017, Canada's cheese industry is as vibrant as ever from coast to coast. Our great Canadian cheeses start with 100% Canadian quality milk that are produced by passionate Canadian dairy farmers in a sustainable way. To commemorate Canada's 150th birthday, I celebrated with a custom designed Canada cheese board with the best of the best in Canadian cheese that are highly-awarded varieties. Pair them off with some crackers and cherry tomatoes and you have the perfect snack ready to serve in minutes. Below you can learn some more on the three types of Canadian cheeses I had on my cheese board.
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, Cows Creamery, Prince Edward Island
Aged for 14 months in a carefully monitored temperature and humidity conditions, this cheddar is firm in texture and has a rich full-bodied flavour. Made by Cows Creamery in Prince Edward Island, this cheese is made with milk from local Prince Edward Island farms. Since no point on the island is more than 20 miles or so from the ocean, the salt air and iron-rich red soil add to the flavour and quality of this cheddar cheese which has received accolades since 2008.
Devil's Rock, Thornloe Cheese Inc, Ontario
Devil's Rock is a creamy blue cheese in a uniquely shaped pyramid and encased in black wax. Devil's Rock itself is an iconic rock surface overlooking Lake Temiskaming and onward into Quebec. This award winning cheese represents the rugged Canadian terrain of the Canadian Shield. Thornloe Cheese Inc. is farmer owned, sourcing daily from the region of Northern Ontario where the air is fresh, the waters are clean, and pastures are green. You can taste the difference in their hand making cheese practices here.
Comox Brie, Natural Pastures, British Columbia
Comox Brie is a soft bloomy rind cheese. It has a thin and moist downy white rind, a traditional, gentle yet slightly buttery taste, pungent mushroom aromas and a delightful, creamy texture that becomes runny over time as the cheese ripens from outside in. It's named after Comox, a small town near Courtenay, Vancouver Island, where Natural Pastures, the cheese maker is located. Natural Pastures is committed to making sustainable farming a priority every step of the way, including choosing milk suppliers on the island.
As Canada celebrates it's 150th birthday this weekend, there is no better time to support our Canadian dairy farmers. Canadian cheese is the perfect complement to celebrate this momentous occasion, so whether you may be hosting a backyard barbecue, going out on the town and dining at your favourite restaurant, or just staying home and watching a movie, make sure you put some Canadian cheese on the table. It's going to be the most delicously Canadian thing you can do.
Happy Birthday Canada!! EH!