Despite the fact that dairy farmers were some of the first Europeans to colonize what would become the United States, American cheese has come to be associated with industrial production: highly processed cheeses made with milk pooled together from hundreds of dairy farms.
This process began with the Industrial Revolution and intensified as our food and farming systems industrialized on a massive scale starting in the mid-20th century. Regional cheesemaking using traditional methods was quickly wiped out. Today, milk and cheese produced on this scale in the United States is treated as a commodity, stockpiled and subsidized and homogenized for mass consumption.
But in the 1970s and 1980s, a small but mighty group of farmers and consumers began pushing back against the industrialization of dairying and cheesemaking in America, and some of them started making cheese. Ever since then—as more and more Americans seek the flavor, traditions and stories behind the food they eat—consumption of artisan cheese in the U.S. has grown, and so has production.
Today, we’re fortunate to have hundreds of small-scale artisan makers crafting cheeses that rival the best Europe has to offer. In 2019, an American-made cheese, Oregon-based Rogue Creamery’s sublime Rogue River Blue, took the top prize at the World Cheese Awards for the first time ever.
How to Make an American Flag Cheese Board
This Fourth of July, we encourage you to celebrate our independence by supporting American artisan cheesemakers by purchasing their cheese—and, if you’re feeling patriotic, creating a red, white, and blue cheese board to salute their craft and hard work.
We created the blue field on this board with Bayley Hazen Blue, which you can purchase in our online cheese shop. It’s a 2014 World’s Best Raw Milk Cheese winner made by the Cellars at Jasper Hill, a Vermont cheese company that’s leading the American specialty cheese industry. Outline it with blueberries, a surprisingly appropriate pairing with pungent, salt-forward blue cheeses like this one.
Use wedges of a small, soft-ripened cheese to create the flag’s white stripes. We used Coach Farm’s Rawstruck, another award winner, or you can seek out one of the varieties we sell in our online store: Merry Goat Round from Firefly Farms, triple-creme Kunik from Nettle Meadow, or two different bloomies as part of this Lakin’s Gorges set. Pair them with rows of halved strawberries or juicy sweet cherries to create the red stripes.
The next time you’re at your local cheese counter, ask your monger to guide you through choosing some fantastic American artisan cheeses. If your favorite styles are European, you’re in luck: we have award-winning producers making award-winning cheeses inspired by European icons, each with their own distinct flavors and characters.
Then, construct a minimalist cheese board with a trio of colorful American wedges. We recommend picking up a washed rind (red), a bloomy rind cheese (white), and a blue-veined cheese (blue) for a patriotic cheese board any time of year. Plan to pair them with a few simple, seasonal accompaniments like fresh fruit, roasted nuts, and quality crackers.
Bring your cheeses home and store them in your Cheese Grotto—we’ve been manufacturing our Grottos and board in the U.S. since the beginning. That’s how you build a cheese board like an American.
How are you celebrating American cheesemakers this Fourth of July? Let us know and tag us on Instagram @cheesegrotto with your patriotic cheese boards!
To top it all off, our Cheese Grotto product line is manufactured in the USA, making your cheese experience at Fourth of July authentically American, in the best expression of the American dream.