Double Down Blue
Our seasonal, special edition mixed milk blue cheese, Double Down Blue, is a natural rind beauty made with a blend of jersey cow and sheep milk exclusively from Marshall Home Ranch & Dairy where our creamery is located. Each wheel is adorned with a double heart imprint on the rind to represent the marriage of milks. This cheese was created in 2014, originally inspired by the terrible drought here in California, as well as a need to remain efficient while the sheep milk supply tapers off at the end of their lactation period. This unique cheese has a medium blue flavor, hints of butter and bacon, and a pleasingly salty tang. Made with an average ratio of 60% jersey cow milk to 40% sheep milk, Double Down Blue is truly a delicious snapshot of what is happening on the farm in late summer, which is the timeframe when it's made.
In summer 2014, the severe California drought had left little water in the farm's aquifer. The well was running non-stop trying to fill the water storage tanks in order provide enough water for the dairy, the creamery, and all the animals that live on the farm. Things got so dire that the landowners had to install a new water holding tank and have water delivered from elsewhere. We pondered ways we could use less water at the creamery, but without compromising on the cleaning protocols that are essential for safe cheesemaking. Quite simply, Double Down Blue was our attempt to conserve water. Since the sheep were at the end of their milking season and their milk volume was dropping daily, an idea came to us....instead of pumping over the sheep and the cow milk separately on different days like we normally do for our other cheeses, we decided to "double down" on the milks, pumping them over into our cheese vat at the same time. It was a gamble to create a new cheese "out of the blue" with a fluctuating ratio of cow to sheep milk. By taking this gamble, we cut our weekly water use for cleaning the milk pipeline in half, and it reduced the total number of cheesemaking days, which further reduced our weekly water consumption. The circumstances of this cheese's birth are what dictated its type and name: we doubled down on the milk out of the blue....hence, Double Down Blue. That first year we made 500 wheels. By the time those first wheels of Double Down Blue were ready, the sheep milk season was over and the water situation had improved. Needless to say, we were relieved that the water crisis had subsided, and VERY relieved that our gambling paid off because we absolutely love this cheese!