It’s a surprising fact to many of our guests that cheese is seasonal. But when you stop and think about it, it makes total sense because cheesemakers depend on their milk sources, and milk sources depend on the breeding patterns of the farm’s animals.
Legendary cheesemonger Anne Saxelby recently wrote a great blog post about the seasonality of cheese, including a terrific infographic to let you know when you can expect the good stuff to come back into our cheese cases. From Anne’s blog:
When it comes to cheese, the Doldrums refers to the middle of winter – short days, long nights, cold as hell – when the goats, sheep, and even some cows like the ones are Meadow Creek Dairy in Virginia are pregnant and not making milk. Our supply of young sheep cheese trickled to a close in mid-autumn; now the goats’ milk cheeses begin to drop like flies as the herds have been dried off for winter and the last of the season’s cheeses are sold.
This is just my definition of the Doldrums – I’m sure it won’t show up on Wikipedia, and most certainly not in more respectable dictionaries, but to me there’s no better way of describing this moment in the world of seasonal cheese.
Since time immemorial, the breeding cycles of animals have coincided with the shortening of days. Breeding takes place in the late fall; the animals are pregnant all winter long, and then give birth in spring. It was basically Mother Nature’s way of ensuring that babies were born at the cusp of spring (which in New England can still be freezing by the way) when the promise of longer, warmer days and good green pasture is just around the corner.