Aptos, Monterey (MPC)
Raw milk, raw cream; hand-crafted cheese made from raw cows’ milk from the family dairy farm. Varieties include: Monterey Jack, East of Edam, Monterey County Gouda, and Salinas Valley Swiss, and Feta
Cheese making is a relatively new venture for the Schoch Family who have owned and operated their small dairy farm in Salinas since 1944. The dairy was started by the Schoch brothers’ grandfather, Ernest, and his brother Adolph, who emigrated from Switzerland in the 1920s. Today, the dairy business is owned by their parents, John and Mary Schoch. The 100 acre ranch is home to about 200 head of cattle, including 100 cows that are milked twice a day by their father, John.
What started as a hobby a few years ago on the family kitchen stove top, is now a bona fide business that supplies several stores and restaurants in Carmel, Monterey and Salinas, as well as the farmers market. The word is getting around about their flavorful, artisan cheese, and the family is trying to keep up with the growing demand.
“We are crafting our cheeses the old fashioned way,” said Beau. “In fact, the milk is so fresh it’s still warm from the cow when we begin the cheese making process.” He claims that they make a unique Monterey Jack because they are the only dairy making the cheese where it originated, Monterey County. “We like to think about how our Monterey Jack may resemble the Monterey Jack of past,” said Beau.
Ty, Seth and Beau not only have the practical experience of growing up on the family dairy farm, they have four university degrees between the three of them, mirroring the blend of science, art and passion that is small scale cheese making. Beau and Seth took an artisan cheese course at Cal Poly that opened their eyes to the complexities of the craft. “You can learn the basics of making cheese in a couple of weeks, but just like making fine wine, it takes a lifetime to perfect,” said Beau.“We intend to keep making our cheeses better and better. It’s a worthy life-long pursuit.”
The brothers are currently making two or more batches of cheese per week, with each batch yielding about 16 wheels of cheese. After aging for a minimum of two months, each batch will yield almost 100 pounds of cheese. The Schochs will be experimenting with aging the cheese on different woods to create additional flavor profiles.
A favorite way to enjoy raw milk is to make homemade kefir that is full of probiotics. Here’s the recipe!