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      Plymouth Artisan Cheese – The Revival of a Recipe from a Bygone Era

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      A Sense of Place
      Nestled in the rolling hills of Plymouth, Vermont is the hamlet of Plymouth Notch, birthplace and homestead of Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States. In this rural setting is one of the country’s oldest cheese enterprises, Plymouth Artisan Cheese. Started 124 years ago in 1890 by John Coolidge, father of Calvin Coolidge, today’s cheese factory inhabits the same building on the same site that John Coolidge first started making cheese. The factory is on the end of a bucolic street with a one-room schoolhouse, church, and general store. The historic 19th century village (excluding the church) is managed by the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation.


      The cheese factory is a classic white, New England clapboard-sided building built into a sloping hill. Immediately upon entering the “factory”, observation windows along two large rooms allow visitors to watch the cheese making process. The rooms are dominated by large, stainless-steel equipment, tanks and vats. In stark contrast, a small Cheesemaking Museum is on the second floor with the original wooden presses and vats displayed with historic items of the factory’s past: original signs, stencils and scales. It was in the museum that the current cheesemaker, Jesse Werner, discovered the original 1890 recipe for the curd cheese.


      The Revival of a Recipe from a Bygone Era
      During the Great Depression, the cheese factory closed due to a milk shortage. It was revived and run by John Coolidge, son of Calvin Coolidge from 1960 until 1999 when the factory was sold to the State of Vermont. In the following years, the State updated the building to meet modern codes and production needs. In 2009, cheesemaker Jesse Warner was introduced to the historic site and saw the potential and possibilities. After submitting a proposal to the State, he leased the building and began making the artisanal cheese to the same process, standards and recipes as John Coolidge. New cheeses have been created, including natural rind, cave-aged cheeses, and both new and old recipes have been receiving acclaim throughout New England as well as awards at the American Cheese Society and the Big E Cheese Competition. Plymouth cheese is currently available through small specialty stores across the North East. This fall Williams-Sonoma will be carrying the artisan cheese, making it more readily accessible to a larger number of buyers nationwide. In the upcoming years, don’t be surprised if Plymouth Artisan Cheese becomes a household name associated with Vermont quality.

      Plymouth Cheese Sarit and Jesse
      An Unexpected Romance

      Graphic designer Sarit Melmed met Jesse Werner through mutual friends in New York. At that time, Jesse needed a designer to create labels and packaging for his budding cheese business. Sarit designed a label with a vintage feel, incorporating design elements from the cheese factory’s old stenciled boxes. Their collaboration soon became a romance, and following their recent wedding it became a lifelong partnership.

      Plymouth Cheese Curds

      The Cheesemaking Process
      A “stirred-curd,” Plymouth Artisan Cheese begins with high quality raw milk. A local farm supplies the raw cow’s milk; on delivery day, a small door opens in the factory wall, a pipe comes through a tiny door and milk is delivered to the factory’s tank. Within the same day, the fresh milk will start the process of becoming cheese. The process of creating granular curd cheese is through the cutting and continuous stirring of the curds. The time-intensive process can take hours and requires both manual and mechanical labor. The cheese is described by Plymouth Artisan Cheese as having a “rich, open-bodied texture of granular curd.”


      For those with a hungry but discerning stomach, the Original Plymouth is the perfect choice. The Plymouth Cheese is their signature product and is revived from the original 1890 recipe. Aged for one year, the cheese has a sharp flavor. Each block is hand-dipped in colorful red wax, exactly how it was preserved on the Coolidge homestead. For the rind varieties, Gracie’s Choice – named after Calvin Coolidge’s wife and former First Lady Grace Coolidge – is a cave-aged cheese that is subtle and buttery. For those who need something of everything, Plymouth Cheese offers a Gift Box of your choice of six cheeses, and you can choose from: Original Plymouth, Hot Pepper, East Meadow, Smoked, Garlic Peppercorn, Sage and Herbs, and Hunter cheeses.

      Plymouth Cheese Label

      The cheese factory and general store are open to the public year-round at 106 Messer Hill Road in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. For more information on Plymouth Artisan Cheese, please visit their website: www.plymouthartisancheese.com/


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