Stock Up: Buy cheese that went to college, or learn to make your own

Across the country, agriculture and food science students at a few state universities make cheese from the milk of college-owned cows. Two of those universities are in the South. However, know that quantities are limited, and shipping generally is restricted to cooler weather. Order while you can. But, if you can’t get your hands on some college-educated cheese, how about learning to make your own?

Blue cheese from Clemson University

Clemson University’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences made its first blue cheeses in the 1950s, when a dairy professor cured his cheese in the nearby Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel. Since the late ’50s, the cheese has been made in special temperature-controlled ripening rooms. Roquefort-style blue cheese is all they make, in batches of 240 pounds at a time. The result is creamy, tangy, but also smooth, with none of the bitterness of some blue cheeses. They sell it by the wheel, the wedge, in crumbles, and in their famous (and delicious) blue cheese dressing. The university recently published “Tastes of Clemson Blue Cheese,” with hundreds of ideas for incorporating blue cheese in recipes. Some of them you might expect, like a strip steak with Clemson blue cheese onions, but what about blue cheese muffins? Our new favorite is blue cheese melted into a hollandaise-type sauce, perfect for topping poached eggs, vegetables or, yes, a steak.

$4.99 per 3.4-ounce wedge, $29.74 per 1.5 to 1.7-pound wheel, $9.49 per 10-ounce container of crumbles, $5.99 per 12-ounce jar of dressing, $24.99 for “Taste of Clemson Blue Cheese” cookbook and 10-ounce container of crumbles. Available at clemsonbluecheese.com.

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Credit: Photo by David Ammon, Mississipp

Credit: Photo by David Ammon, Mississipp

Edam from Mississippi State University

Mississippi State’s “cannon ball” Edam cheeses have been a university symbol since the late 1930s. The milk from the cows at the university’s Bearden Dairy Research Center goes into butter, sweet milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk and ice cream, as well as cheddar, jalapeno pepper, Vallagret (a Norwegian style of Swiss cheese), as well as the 50,000 balls of Edam produced each year. We tried a 1.5 pound ball of the pale orange Edam, with its distinctive red covering. Mild and nutty at this young stage, it might get a bit sharper if allowed to age, but there’s little chance, since it’s so delicious. It melts well and would make an amazing grilled cheese sandwich, or you could melt it into your next batch of mashed potatoes. Everyone who tried this cheese just wanted to eat it straight. MSU’s cheeses are available year-round in the shop on campus, but are shipped during a limited window: between Nov. 1 and Dec. 6. Online ordering is even more limited: Nov. 1-8.

$23 for a 1.5-pound ball of Edam, $16 for a 2-pound block of cheddar, $45 for the white gift pack, with Edam, cheddar and cheddar spread. Available at msucheese.com.

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Credit: Al Milligan Images

Credit: Al Milligan Images

Cheese-making classes

Is this the year you learn to make your own cheese? Kate Johnson of the Art of Cheese in Longmont, Colorado, is ready to teach you to make great cheese at home, or start you on a career in professional cheesemaking. The on-demand classes are accessed through her website, although a few are available on DVD. If you’re looking for a deep dive, try the 7-Day Cheese Challenge and learn to make cheeses ranging from fresh mascarpone to Italian hard cheese. The Art of Cheese also offers more than 50 classes, from beginner to advanced, that cover just one or two types of cheese, including cream cheese and boursin, mozzarella and burrata, and feta. Once you purchase a class, you can watch it repeatedly, and you can get your questions answered by Johnson and her instructors.

$89 for the 7-day Cheese Challenge, $24 for the individual cheese classes. To enroll: theartofcheese.com.

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