Although Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company has been producing cheese for less than three years, it has built a solid reputation for producing fine, hand-made cheeses using fresh, locally produced goat, sheep and cow’s milk, as well as for a commitment to be environmentally and socially responsible.
Fifth Town has been the recipient of more than 20 awards since opening in July 2008, including several from the American Cheese Society.
You’ll find the sustainable facility in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, located on 20 acres of agricultural land overlooking the St. Lawrence River. To cool, heat and power the dairy processing, retail and educational facility, geo-thermal technology and two renewable sources of energy—wind and solar—are used. The advanced sustainable design won Fifth Town Platinum LEED accreditation in February 2009, making it the first dairy in North America to receive platinum status.
Petra Kassun-Mutch, founder and president of Fifth Town, and Stephanie Diamant, master cheesemaker, didn’t always make cheese.
Petra Kassun-Mutch left her career as a publishing executive in Toronto to pursue her passion for artisan cheesemaking, traveling and studying widely. When it was time build her creamery, she selected the County on account of family connections there and familiarity with the land and resources at hand. Paired with the County’s reputation for being an emerging culinary destination, it seemed a natural fit.
Stephanie Diamant, on the other hand, has a background in medical research and a degree in agriculture. She spent 10 years operating a dairy-sheep farm near Georgian Bay where she began making cheese in her small kitchen. From there, Stephanie decided to head for England where she travelled visiting dairy sheep farms, and completed an apprenticeship. In 2008, an opportunity presented itself and she joined Petra in her new venture.
Currently producing a variety of fresh, washed-rind, soft ripened, hard and limited edition cheeses, Fifth Town gets fresh milk from six local, environmentally conscious, partnering farms. Frozen milk or curd is never used in their cheese making, and the milk is hormone and antibiotic free. No modified milk ingredients are used.
“We are not receiving our milk from a co-op,” Kassun-Mutch explains. “We are actually picking it up ourselves. We go out each day to selected farms, bringing it (milk) back by 10:30 in the morning, and start to make cheese right away.”
Fifth Town’s fresh cheeses have a creamy, moist texture with no artificial additives. They include flavours like Garlic and Chives, Dill Weed and Lemon, and Lavender. The washed-rind varieties range from slightly salty, with complex aggressive flavours, to refined nutty, almost sweet lactic flavours. Washed-rind Cape Vessey is the top-selling cheese.
Lighthall Tomme, one of the hard varieties, was awarded first place in the Hard Aged Goat Cheese Category by the American Cheese Society in 2009. It offers a pleasant, light, almost nutty flavour, with a smooth, firm texture and a mild saltiness.
Last month, Fifth Town introduced County Quark, its newest cheese, in the retail shop at the creamery. County Quark is available in two flavours: Original and Maple. Quark is a type of fresh cheese made from cow’s milk, and is similar to cottage cheese. It is soft, white, unsalted and un-aged.
- 4309 County Road #8, Picton, Ontario K0K 2T0 Telephone 613.476.5755
- About 20 minutes east of Picton, 8 minutes east of Waupoos Winery
Fifth Town cheese can be purchased year-round from the retail store in the plant and at Black River Cheese and Sobeys in Prince Edward County, as well as at more 50 other locations throughout Ontario.
Fifth Town Artisan Cheese will be a featured cheesemaker at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival taking place June 4-5 at Crystal Palace in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario’s newest wine region and fastest-growing culinary destination. Fifth Town cheese will be available for tasting at the All-Day Cheese-Tasting Seminar Program and Cooks & Curds Cheese Gala on Saturday and during Artisan Cheese & Food Fair on Sunday.
A graduate of the post-graduate public relations program at Loyalist College, Colleen Vickers-Kleywegt is interning with the City of Quinte West. She loves to cook and bake and spend time with family, friends and her dog Bruiser.