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Cheese Lovers Rejoice: Recently Discovered 40-Year-Old Cheddar To Be Sold (Oconto, Wisconsin)
Wisconsin State Journal ^ | August 30, 2012 | BARRY ADAMS

Posted on 08/30/2012 7:42:35 PM PDT by DogByte6RER

Cheese lovers rejoice: Recently discovered 40-year-old cheddar to be sold

When Edward Zahn decided in May to close his cheese shop in Oconto, he made a discovery that is going to drive cheese lovers more bonkers than the 15-year-old cheddar released by Hook's Cheese in Mineral Point in 2009.

In the back of his walk-in cooler, Zahn, 73, found several wooden boxes of cheddar cheese from the now-closed County Line Cheese in Oconto that over the years had repeatedly been buried by incoming cheese products.

The result is 40-year-old cheddar that makes up part of what is likely the oldest collection of cheese ever assembled and sold to the public, according to experts.

"It just got overlooked," Zahn said. "It looks just like the others except it's just a lot sharper. It's got character."

The others? Those would be the boxes of 34-year-old and 28-year-old cheddar.

The cheese, some of it made when Richard Nixon was president and the Watergate break-in happened, will go on sale Oct. 6 and be featured in what is billed as the “Ultimate Cheddar Flight,” a cheese tasting event at Wisconsin Cheese Mart on Old World Third Street in downtown Milwaukee. The tasting will begin with 1-year-old cheddar and culminate with cheese made in 1972, two years after the death of Vince Lombardi and two years before an 18-year-old Robin Yount joined the Milwaukee Brewers.

Ken McNulty, president of Wisconsin Cheese Mart, said he has about 20 pounds of the 40-year cheddar and 120 pounds of 34-year cheddar, though the 34-year cheddar will be saved for a later date. The 40-year cheddar will not be sold online but only in the store, and not by the pound. Instead it will go for $10 per ounce so more people can try the unique cheese.

"It's the sharpest cheese I've ever tasted," McNulty said. "Although what you'd expect is that it would be really dry but it's actually very creamy."

On a typical cheese that is aged for years, a half-inch of cheese can crystallize on the outside of the block. But because of the extreme age of the cheese from Zahn, each slab had almost an inch of inedible crystallized cheese.

"It looks like it went through a nuclear accident. It's just unbelievably grotesque," McNulty said. "But once you get through the exterior, it's OK."

The 28-year-old cheddar will go for $96 a pound compared to the $60 a pound McNulty sold Hook's 15-year cheddar for in 2009.

Mark Johnson, who has taught cheesemaking for 32 years at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research in Madison, said he tasted an experimental 2-pound batch of 37-year-old cheddar at Washington State University in 2010 and said it had the consistency of Parmesan cheese but was "great." He believes the cheese from Zahn is the oldest ever sold and, because of the fermentation process involved, said there should be no safety concerns for those who try the rarity.

"It's a way of preserving food," Johnson said. "If there was a pathogen or a bad bug, they tend to die out."

Jeanne Carpenter, executive director of Wisconsin Cheese Originals, an organization that promotes artisanal cheese, said Hook's cheddar is aged by design and is carefully monitored. The company is scheduled to release a 20-year cheddar next year.

"We know (Hook's) cheese is going to be absolutely stellar," Carpenter said. "This other (Zahn's cheese) just happened to get lost in a cooler. So no one has really been taking care of it. So it will be very interesting to see what it's like and the quality of it."

Zahn began making cheese in 1958 while a senior at Peshtigo High School. He worked at County Line until 1989 when a back injury forced him to quit cheesemaking. That's when he opened Z's Cheese Shoppe and acquired much of the cheese that had been made at County Line. Health problems forced Zahn to close his shop last month in Oconto, located about 35 miles north of Green Bay.

Zahn started with about 85 pounds of the then-39-year cheddar and in May began selling it under the radar to locals for less than $50 a pound.

But when Zahn's son sent an email to McNulty telling him of the historic cache of cheese, McNulty agreed to buy it all, sight unseen. The purchase also included cheese made at Springside Cheese Corp. north of Oconto Falls in 1989, 1990 and 1992 and also stored in Zahn's 19-foot by 28-foot cooler.

"It's all kind of by accident," Zahn said.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Chit/Chat; Food; Local News; Miscellaneous; Society; Weird Stuff
KEYWORDS: agedcheddar; auction; bonappetit; cheddar; cheese; cheeseheads; finedining; foodandwine; oconto; wisconsin
40-year-old Wisconsin cheddar cheese

This 28-year-old slab of cheddar cheese is among the cheese purchased by Wisconsin Cheese Mart from Ed Zahn in Oconto. The cheese, along with 40-year and 34-year cheddar, will go on sale Oct. 6. Zahn had overlooked the aged cheese for years in his walk-in cooler.

1 posted on 08/30/2012 7:42:45 PM PDT by DogByte6RER
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Mmmmm ... beer, brats and cheddar cheese.


2 posted on 08/30/2012 7:45:38 PM PDT by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: DogByte6RER

Okay...since a lot of cheese experts are going to read this, perhaps one of you can tell me: How do you know when Roquefort cheese goes bad?


3 posted on 08/30/2012 7:45:38 PM PDT by econjack (Some people are as dumb as soup.)
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To: DogByte6RER

I’m now going to look on the bottom shelf way in the back of the refrigerator to see if that block of cheese is still there


4 posted on 08/30/2012 7:46:10 PM PDT by gunsequalfreedom (Conservative is not a label of convenience. It is a guide to your actions.)
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To: econjack

Ummmm ... when it gets moldy?


5 posted on 08/30/2012 7:47:13 PM PDT by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: DogByte6RER

Everyone here knows that real cheddar cheese isn’t naturally orange, right?


6 posted on 08/30/2012 7:49:39 PM PDT by fwdude ( You cannot compromise with that which you must defeat.)
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To: DogByte6RER

It's not much of a cheese *shop*,is it?

7 posted on 08/30/2012 7:56:55 PM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Voter ID Equals "No Representation Without Respiration")
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To: econjack
No idea, but i don't eat it anyway. Now this is prime lactose free cheese ~ after that many years all the sugars are dealt with handily making it sharp and edible.

There's an Australian cheddar they sell around here that claims 7 years, but it's not consistent from wheel to wheel, so we don't get it that often. Since everyone here has a lactose problem we love the aged cheddars ~ minimum 9 months!

Goat's milk and mare's milk cheddars are also locally available and I pick up half pound blocks several times a year.

8 posted on 08/30/2012 7:59:53 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: DogByte6RER

Wow! Just in time for the Democrat convention! Joe Biden thinks Cheez Whiz is a urine sample.


9 posted on 08/30/2012 8:01:39 PM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: DogByte6RER

Looks like Velveeta.


10 posted on 08/30/2012 8:01:54 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (I'm not voting for Romney. The Grand Old Whig Party doesn't own my vote and failed to earn it.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

Aah, how about Cheddar?

Well, we don’t get much call for it around here, sir.

Not much ca—It’s the single most popular cheese in the world!

Not ‘round here, sir.


11 posted on 08/30/2012 8:04:15 PM PDT by Delta 21 (Oh Crap !! Did I say that out loud ??!??)
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To: DogByte6RER

A good, aged sharp cheddar has always been my favorite. But I gotta admit, a slice of parmesan reggiano cut from the wheel is a close second!!


12 posted on 08/30/2012 8:09:02 PM PDT by djf (The barbarian hordes will ALWAYS outnumber the clean-shaven. And they vote.)
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To: econjack

A former housemate had blue cheese go bad. (Answer: That’s when it gets hairy.) On throwing it away, another housemate declared: “Strike Three; you go bad three times, you’re out.)

(If you don’t get it, Milk goes bad and becomes cheese. Cheese goes bad and becomes blue cheese...)


13 posted on 08/30/2012 8:15:20 PM PDT by dangus
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To: ClearCase_guy; Velveeta
Looks like Velveeta.

If you're going to talk about her, you should ping her.

14 posted on 08/30/2012 8:15:46 PM PDT by null and void (Day 1319 of our ObamaVacation from reality - Obama, a queer and present danger)
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To: DogByte6RER

I always suspected those expiration dates meant nothing.


15 posted on 08/30/2012 8:16:02 PM PDT by clearcarbon
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To: fwdude

You mean West Country Farmhouse Cheddar? Because otherwise its real cheddar regardless of food dyes.


16 posted on 08/30/2012 8:18:03 PM PDT by aft_lizard
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To: DogByte6RER

How come we never hear about a gun shop owner who cleaned out the back room and found a few cases of pre-ban Thompsons?


17 posted on 08/30/2012 8:30:22 PM PDT by Pilsner
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To: null and void
Velveeta is to cheese what Coors Lite is to beer.
18 posted on 08/30/2012 8:47:15 PM PDT by CrazyIvan (Obama's birth certificate was found stapled to Soros's receipt.)
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To: Pilsner

I’d settle for that bike shop that finally found some fool (me) to take that old Vincent that they got around to un crating off their hands.


19 posted on 08/30/2012 8:51:47 PM PDT by CrazyIvan (Obama's birth certificate was found stapled to Soros's receipt.)
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To: DogByte6RER
28 year old cheese. I've seen scarier...


20 posted on 08/30/2012 8:55:47 PM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: Gay State Conservative

Customer: (pause) Aah, how about Cheddar?

Owner: Well, we don’t get much call for it around here, sir.

Customer: Not much ca— it’s the single most popular cheese in the world!

Owner: Not ‘round here, sir.

Customer: (slight pause) and what IS the most popular cheese ‘round hyah?

Owner: ‘Illchester, sir.

Customer: IS it.

Owner: Oh, yes, it’s staggeringly popular in this manor, squire.

Customer: Is it.

Owner: It’s our number one best seller, sir!

Customer: I see. Uuh...’Illchester, eh?

Owner: Right, sir.

Customer: All right. Okay. ‘Have you got any?’ he asked, expecting the answer ‘no’.

Owner: I’ll have a look, sir........nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnno.


21 posted on 08/30/2012 8:59:57 PM PDT by dfwgator (I'm voting for Ryan and that other guy.)
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To: muawiyah

I love saganaki, which sounds Japanese, but is actually a Greek dish. Most Greek restaurants use Kasseri cheese because it’s pretty easy to get. However, I had it once made with Kefalotyri cheese (I think it was the Greek Isles in Chicago) and that is the only way to go. You talk about trying to find a good cheddar, try finding a local source for Kefalotyri. I found one store in NYC and one in Cincinnati, but none in Indy.


22 posted on 08/30/2012 9:12:00 PM PDT by econjack (Some people are as dumb as soup.)
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To: djf
...a slice of parmesan reggiano cut from the wheel is a close second!!

Amen!

23 posted on 08/30/2012 9:13:17 PM PDT by econjack (Some people are as dumb as soup.)
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To: econjack

It starts smelling good?


24 posted on 08/30/2012 10:30:24 PM PDT by RainMan (After 4 years of Hope and Change America needs a little R&R)
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To: DogByte6RER

Amen


25 posted on 08/31/2012 1:13:57 AM PDT by Conservative4Ever (The Obamas = rude, crude and socially unacceptable)
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To: djf
Gonna have to try that...I'm rather partial to gruyere
26 posted on 08/31/2012 1:17:34 AM PDT by Conservative4Ever (The Obamas = rude, crude and socially unacceptable)
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To: Conservative4Ever

Make sure you get the REAL stuff!

It will be imported from Italy.

It will still have the outer part of the rind attached to the wedge.

The rind will be imprinted with dots, identifying the producer, etc. and you should see at least fragments of the words
P A R M I G I A N O R E G G I A N O
on it.

This amounts to an “International Trademark” of sorts and guarantees you have the real deal. I usually (but not always) get the Grassi.

Make yourself a nice espresso, or open a good bottle of Shiraz, sit back and prepare to go to heaven!

;-)

Price: $17 to $30 a pound... you get what you pay for!


27 posted on 08/31/2012 1:40:05 AM PDT by djf (The barbarian hordes will ALWAYS outnumber the clean-shaven. And they vote.)
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To: econjack
Okay...since a lot of cheese experts are going to read this, perhaps one of you can tell me: How do you know when Roquefort cheese goes bad?

When there's no cheese left to hold the mold together. Until then, at least some of it is salvagable - but it does get really tangy when it has had time to get that far along...

28 posted on 08/31/2012 3:10:02 AM PDT by trebb ("If a man will not work, he should not eat" From 2 Thes 3)
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To: DogByte6RER

That doesn’t look like the cheese that’s currently sitting in the bottom of my fridge........


29 posted on 08/31/2012 3:19:55 AM PDT by Hot Tabasco (My 6 pack abs are now a full keg......)
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To: DogByte6RER
a cheese tasting event at Wisconsin Cheese Mart

Will that include grilled cheese sandwiches?

30 posted on 08/31/2012 3:22:09 AM PDT by Hot Tabasco (My 6 pack abs are now a full keg......)
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To: aft_lizard

I’m just saying that it’s not really naturally orange. That’s all. Most people don’t know that. Some people care about food dyes.


31 posted on 08/31/2012 4:37:03 AM PDT by fwdude ( You cannot compromise with that which you must defeat.)
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>> it will go for $10 per ounce so more people can try the unique cheese.

Probably $20/ounce at a local shop that can get some.


32 posted on 08/31/2012 4:41:16 AM PDT by Gene Eric (Demoralization is a weapon of the enemy. Don't get it, don't spread it!)
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To: econjack

No doubt i can find this stuff just up the road in Baltimore though.


33 posted on 08/31/2012 5:03:53 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: djf

Thank you for the info. :-)


34 posted on 08/31/2012 8:22:39 AM PDT by Conservative4Ever (The Obamas = rude, crude and socially unacceptable)
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