The cheese of the month for September 2022 is: Schafblues from Milchschafhof Pimpinelle, Quappendorf/Brandenburg

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The Pimpinelle dairy sheep farm lies under the wide sky of the Oderbruch, directly on a large river bend of the old Oder. We live there with our animals. In addition to our flock of Krainer Stein sheep, there are our herding dogs Ebba and Mio and our farm cat Fiete.

This is how the Pimpinelles, as I call Amelie and Franziska Wetzlar because of the beautiful name of their farm, introduce themselves on their website. I have been following their development for a long time, full of admiration for their commitment, their determination, their enthusiasm – and all the hard work with which they have developed their originally rather dilapidated farm in Quappendorf into a real gem since the beginnings in 2010.

Keeping sheep and milking them (Amelie’s job), turning milk into cheese (Franziska’s area) – that’s how her concept could be summarised. It started with a dream, during a holiday in Tuscany, and a first sheep called Marjoram, the white-haired kind that is common here. In the cheese dairy, the first steps were mainly fresh cheese, with flowers and herbs. But that was all a long time ago. Today Amelie milks 44 animals (in the new, crowdfunding-financed barn), and most of them are black-brown-grey: “We came across the Krainer Stein breed in Slovenia, they are more robust and obviously feel comfortable here,” she says. In the farm shop Franziska continues to offer wonderfully creamy fresh cheeses, but for a long time now also very good matured, hard wheels like the Steinschaf.

And Schafblues! In terms of format and structure, it resembles Bleu d’Auvergne, but of course it is made from sheep’s milk, like Roquefort – and yet it is completely different! “It was difficult to get this one right,” says Franziska, “I spent years experimenting on it.” Because, ironically, the ripening conditions are unusually dry because of the river being so close (the houses have no cellars due to the high water table). But since last year, she has persuaded the river to cooperate: the blue-gray-green spread in irregular openings in the ivory-coloured dough, the nose a tantalising hint of fresh mushrooms and damp earth, the taste sweet from the rich milk, the long-lasting umami finish a bit like salted caramel chocolate.

Elegant and earthy at the same time. The only drawback being that Schafblues is only available in the farm shop in Quappendorf. However, the trip is well worth it: the Oderbruch is beautiful, and in addition to cheese, there are lambskins, wool, carpets, meat and sausage on offer.

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