March is Women’s History Month, and for the first time ever, we’re celebrating the amazing women pushing the artisan cheese history in the United States further with a tasting box featuring women cheesemakers!
We’re also featuring cheese board videos from some of our favorite women building these amazing wheels and wedges into their Cheese Grottos on our Instagram page this month! Check out our founder Jessica Sennett and cheese courtesan Madame Fromage, and stay tuned for cheese writer Christine Clark’s video on March 22nd!
Which Cheeses Are in the Women’s History Month Tasting Box?
We’ve paired three award-winning, women-made artisan cheeses with some of our favorite accompaniments for you to enjoy.
Rockweed by Lakin’s Gorges Cheese
Cheesemaker Allison Lakin made the leap from anthropologist to cheesemaker in 2002 and founded her own creamery in 2011. She was inspired by the seaweed-covered rocks along the river at her Maine farm. She tucks a ribbon of powdered bladderwrack seaweed into the center of this cow’s milk bloomy rind, giving it a boost of umami as well as a lush, creamy texture.
Lucky Linda Clothbound Cheddar by Redhead Creamery
Founder and cheesemaker Alise Sjostrom turned a childhood dream of taking over her family’s Minnesota dairy farm into reality. Alise’s Lucky Linda is named after her mother—and modeled after traditional farmstead clothbound cheddars. Aged at least 6 months, it’s got a robust, savory flavor and earthy, chocolatey, and nutty notes.
Gisele by Boston Post Dairy
Another cheese named after a mom! Sisters Anne, Theresa, and Susan have been running Vermont-based Boston Post Dairy with their parents, Robert and Gisele, since 2007. This nutty, crystalline Alpine-style cheese is a blend of goat’s and cow’s milk, with a ruddy hue to its rind thanks to a wash in spiced apple cider.
Which Accompaniments Are in the Women’s History Month Tasting Box?
Each package comes with a pack of crisp, umami-rich wafer crackers from Australian producer Olina’s Bakehouse. You can also customize your package with additional tasty pairings:
- Lady Edison Extra Fancy Sliced Ham: Perfect for making charcuterie rosettes on your women-centric cheese board!
- Dequmana Mixed Olives With Pits: This herb-infused blend of four Spanish olives brings out the briny, savory notes of long-aged cheeses.
- Ziba Heirloom Almonds: These Shakhurbai almonds from Afghanistan have a unique sweet flavor and unexpected crispness.
- Milène Jardine 70% Dark Chocolate: A rich yet balanced bar with toasty, fruity notes from South American cacao, made by a women-owned chocolatier.
Women Cheesemakers Throughout History
The women cheesemakers working today may be forging their own paths, but they’re the latest in a long line of women in dairy and cheesemaking—one that stretches back to the dawn of agriculture.
Women have played a central role in dairying for most of human history, and dairying has been associated with feminine energy since ancient times. In the ancient Sumerian city of Uruk, the fertility goddess Inanna watched over agricultural storehouses and oversaw the cycle of the seasons. According to myth, Inanna loved cream, cheese, and butter, and the citizens of Uruk brought daily dairy offerings to her temple.
Later, in Europe, milking animals and making cheese and butter were two of the many tasks on womens’ to-do lists, and farmwives and dairy maids were seen as the keepers of daily knowledge and expertise. As we mentioned in our History of Cheese series, the soft-ripened French cheeses we know and love were developed by women like these milking a single cow or a few goats at a time. In Tudor England, women provided farms with important income by turning fresh, perishable milk into sturdy, shelf-stable wheels for sale at market.
As dairy moved across the Atlantic with colonization, women continued to manage cheesemaking on farmsteads. This included both enslaved as well as free Black women, such as entrepreneur and property owner Elleanor Eldridge, who was renowned for her cheesemaking skills in early 19th century Rhode Island. On the frontier, Wisconsin’s first dairy cooperative was founded by Anne Pickett in the early 1840s, laying the foundation for what is today the third-largest cheese-producing economy in the world.
As with so many other fields, women were pushed out of important roles in cheesemaking as the industry scaled up, standardized, and moved from farmhouses to factories starting in the mid-19th century. Over the next century, cheesemaking became heavily consolidated, and many regional styles of cheesemaking in the U.S. were lost. But women would play a central role in bringing traditional cheesemaking back.
Starting in the 1970s, a small group of farmers—many of them women—began to revive traditional cheesemaking practices like raising heritage breed animals on pasture, making cheese with raw milk, and prioritizing flavor over uniformity. They looked to European cheeses for inspiration but made them their own—and the American artisan cheese movement we know and love today was born.
The cheesemakers in our Women’s History Month cheese package are the next generation of this movement, carrying on a proud tradition of independence and excellence as they care for their animals, practice their craft, and build a legacy of their own in this industry. We’re so proud to work with them and so many other American women cheesemakers! To order yours, click here.
How are you celebrating Women’s History Month with food? Who are some of your favorite women cheesemakers? Tag us on Instagram @cheesegrotto and let us know!