Fifth Town expands into cow’s-milk cheese

Petra Cooper (left) and Jean McCormack among the Holsteins at Quinte Crest Farm.

Only 20 months after Fifth Town Artisan Cheese first began producing cheese, Petra Cooper, founder and president, isn’t resting on the laurels of critical acclaim that greeted her goat and sheep cheeses. Since late December, cow’s milk is also being turned into cheese at the Prince Edward County creamery—with the first offerings going on sale in May.

Sampling will be possible this weekend in Toronto at the Ontario Cheese Society’s booth at Green Living Show and Monday evening at Canadian Artisan Cheese Marketplace & Prince Edward County Wine Tasting.

Quinte Crest Tomme is the new cheese crafted by Stephanie Diamant, Fifth Town’s master cheesemaker. It will be somewhat similar to Lighthall Tomme, Fifth Town’s award-winning goat cheese. (Click here to learn what makes a tomme a tomme.)

Quinte Crest Tomme takes its name from Quinte Crest Farm—just a few minutes northwest of Fifth Town—where grass is turned into milk by a herd of 30 happy Holsteins under the care of Jean McCormack, one of Ontario’s few female dairy farmers. Jean and Petra are near neighbours as the farm is just a few minutes northwest of the creamery.

Quinte Crest is a single-herd cheese that is aged for three to six months in the underground cave at Fifth Town under the care of affineur Phil Collman (who happens to be married to the cheesemaker).

Not content with just one cow’s-milk cheese, Petra has her team at Fifth Town developing a second. It will be called Rose Haus. Ten percent of net sales will be donated to Rose House Museum which chronicles life in North Marysburgh (originally known as Fifth Town) from the 19th century to the present.

Rose Haus, once approved by government agencies, and Quinte Crest Tomme will initially be sold from Fifth Town’s store at the creamery 15 minutes beyond Picton in Prince Edward County.

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company bills itself as a “contemporary, environmentally and socially responsible enterprise positioned as a niche producer of fine handmade goat and sheep milk cheese.”

All of Fifth Town’s goat cheeses are made with Prince Edward County milk that is Local Food Plus certified. The cheeses are aged by time honoured artisanal methods in Ontario’s only subterranean aging facility. Fifth Town is a Platinum LEED certified dairy and won the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation in May 2009. Fifth Town opened in June 2008 as a federally licensed dairy. Currently, it employs 14 people and buys milk from three local, family-owned goat farms and three local, family-owned sheep farms. More than 80 percent of the milk processed by Fifth Town is goat milk.