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Golden Glen Creamery: Fine cheeses, family style

Nov 5th, 2011 | Category: Community, Food

by Jessamyn Tuttle

Golden Glen Creamery in Bow is, above all, a family business. A working dairy for 32 years, the farm now puts its efforts towards providing milk for the finest cheeses it can while employing as many Jensen family members as possible, including Vic Jensen, his wife Judy, his son Doug and daughter-in-law Brandy. Vic has been raising dairy cattle his entire life, beginning with his first Guernsey cow in high school, 52 years ago, and his passion for good milk is shared by the whole family.

Vic and Judy Jensen at Golden Glen Creamery. PHOTO BY JESSAMYN TUTTLE

The farm, Vic Jensen & Sons, was originally a straight milk operation, supplying milk first to Washington Cheese Company, then to Darigold. It still wasn’t easy to survive as a small farm, as dairies began disappearing all over the county. In 1988 the Jensens received the honor of Skagit County dairy family of the year, but a 1996 snowstorm badly damaged many farm buildings and was a severe setback.
In 2003 Doug began to suggest that they try making cheese. His wife Brandy asked, “If I learned how to make cheese, would you make a cheese plant?” As it turned out, he would. Brandy and her sister-in-law Andrea flew down to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, to attend a crash-course cheesemaking seminar. By the time they returned home, the cheese plant was already under construction at the farm, and within a few months they were able to produce their first batches. As Brandy says, when you “put your hands in a cheese batch, that’s really when you learn to make cheese.”

Eventually, Andrea left the farm to teach, and Judy took over all the cheesemaking duties while Brandy stepped up to handle marketing and administration. Doug manages the farm and also makes the butter. As Vic says, “My son runs the farm, Brandy runs the creamery, my wife makes the cheese, and I do what I’m told.”

Doug works with a nutritionist to make sure the cows’ diet is balanced and keeps them healthy, especially in the winter when they are kept mostly indoors. Their herd, currently composed of about 130 cows, includes Guernseys, Jerseys, and Jersey-Holstein crosses, producing a sweet, rich milk that every creamery employee takes huge pride in. “Take care of ‘em and concentrate on quality of milk”, says Vic, emphasizing the importance of happy cows.

In the cheese room, wheels of freshly unmolded dill-garlic cheese sit on the racks, filling the air with their scent. A small room next door contains the butter churn, and a trailer serves as the cheese cave, with cheeses lined up and labeled for easy inventory. The creamery has a huge line of products, including gouda, cheddar, feta, mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, fromage blanc, crème fraiche and butter, and they are constantly developing new items.

Their most popular cheese is their Sun Dried Tomato & Basil Cheddar, with the Dill & Garlic a close second, but their “River” cheddar, made with extra cream and aged for one year, is becoming their signature product. Their flavored butters become especially popular in the winter, particularly the honey butter and Brandy’s invention, cranberry–orange.

The creamery sells at numerous farmers markets, and their cheese and butter can be found at local co-ops and grocery stores, as well as directly from their farm and website.

“You can make bad cheese out of good milk,” says Judy, but you can’t make good cheese out of bad milk. “The best is good cheese out of good milk. We start with the best milk ever.”

Golden Glen Creamery is located at 15098 Field Road in Bow. For more information, contact (360) 766-MILK  or info@goldenglencreamery.com.

–Published in the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of Grow Northwest

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