Cows Creamery leads nominees for Canada’s cheese Oscars

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar: 2016 Canadian Cheese of the Year. Will it win again in 2018?

Cows Creamery of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, has a record-setting 12 nominations for its cheeses in the 2018 Canadian Cheese Awards, the biggest cheese judging and competition in the country. Two years ago, Cows Creamery won Canadian Cheese of the Year honours with its Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar.

Avonlea is again a contender for the prestigious award but competition is stiff from cheesemakers in Québec and Ontario.

Judging by a jury of 14 cheese experts took place at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science. A total of 117 finalists were selected from the 375 cheeses entered by producers from Newfoundland to British Columbia.

The 2018 Canadian Cheese of the Year and champions in 33 categories will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on June 6 at St. Lawrence Market in Toronto followed by an Awards Tasting Gala. The next day, winners will be featured at Canadian Cheese Expo for the trade followed by Canada’s first Artisan Cheese Night Market open to the public.

Information on the program and tickets is available at CheeseAwards.ca.

A complete list of finalists can be seen and downloaded as a Word document here: http://www.cheeseawards.ca/finalistsfinalistes2018/

Judging of 375 cheeses under way at University of Guelph, Food Science Department. Photo by Kenneth Armstrong of GuelphToday.com.

Fifty-six of the 117 nominations went to 22 Québec cheese producers led by Fromagerie La Station, 7 finalists, Laterie Charlevoix, 6, and Fromagerie du Presbystere, 5.

Sixty-one of the 117 nominations went to 23 producers in English-Canada, led by Cows, 12 finalists, Glengarry Fine Cheese, 5, and Amalgamated Dairies, Cross Wind Farm and Mountainoak Cheese, 4 each.

Canadian Cheese Awards is the only pan-Canadian cheese competition open to all milks used in cheesemaking—cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo—with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That means no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.

“We aim to honour and celebrate 100% pure natural cheese that has achieved technical excellence and exhibits the highest aesthetic qualities,” says Georgs Kolesnikovs, Awards Chairman.

The biennial Canadian Cheese Awards is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the support of Loblaw Companies as Marquee Sponsor and Dairy Farmers of Canada as Principal Partner, Cow Milk Cheese.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, is on hiatus in 2018 to allow resources to be devoted to the launch of Artisan Cheese Night Market and related events.

For additional information, mailto:awards@cheeselover.ca or telephone 1.866.865.2628.

 

How many nominees for Cheese of the Year have you tasted?

Le Baluchon: 2014 Cheese of the Year. This year, it’s nominated for Best Organic Cheese.

Here you have them, the 117 finalists in the 2018 Canadian Cheese Awards competition, the biggest independent judging of cheese in Canada.

Winners and all finalists will be introduced to the public at Canada’s first-ever Artisan Cheese Night Market on June 7 at historic St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.

MAIN CATEGORIES (19) CATÉGORIES PRINCIPALES

FRESH CHEESE – FROMAGE FRAIS

FRESH PASTA FILATA CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE FILÉE

SEMI-SOFT CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE  SEMI-FILÉE

FETA/CHEESE IN BRINE – Feta / FROMAGE EN SAUMURE

FIRM CHEESE –  FROMAGE À PÂTE FERME

FIRM CHEESE WITH HOLES (Swiss-style) – FROMAGE À PÂTE FERME AVEC OUVERTURES

WASHED RIND CHEESE – FROMAGE À CROÛTE LAVÉE

MIXED RIND CHEESE – FROMAGE À CROÛTE MIXTE

BLOOMY RIND CHEESE – PÂTE MOLLE À CROÛTE FLEURIE

LACTIC RIPENED CHEESE – Fromage Lactique à croûte fleurie

MILD & MEDIUM CHEDDAR (aged up to 9 months) – CHEDDAR DOUX & MOYEN (maximum de 9 mois d’affinage)

OLD CHEDDAR (aged from 9 to 18 months) – CHEDDAR FORT (entre 9 et 18 mois d’affinage)

AGED CHEDDAR (aged more than 18 months) – CHEDDAR VIEILLI (plus de 18 mois d’affinage)

  • Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar— Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery 2 Year Old Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

GOUDA CHEESE – FROMAGE GOUDA

BLUE CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE PERSILLÉE

FLAVOURED CHEESE – FROMAGE AROMATISÉ

FLAVOURED FRESH CHEESE – FROMAGES FRAIS AROMATISÉS

SMOKED CHEESE – FROMAGE FUMÉ

GRILLING CHEESE – FROMAGE À GRILLER

SPECIAL AWARDS (9) PRIX SPÉCIAUX

BEST COW’S MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE VACHE

BEST GOAT’S MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE CHÈVRE

BEST SHEEP’S MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE BREBIS

BEST WATER BUFFALO MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE BUFFLONNE

BEST BLENDED-MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT MIXTE

BEST FARMSTEAD CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE FERMIER

BEST ORGANIC CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE BIOLOGIQUE

BEST RAW-MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT CRU

BEST NEW CHEESE (introduced to market during 2017) – MEILLEUR NOUVEAU FROMAGE (Mis en marché en 2017)

  • Cows Creamery 2 Year Old Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Mountainoak Farmstead 3 Year Old — Mountainoak Cheese, New Hamburg, Ontario

REGIONAL AWARDS (5) PRIX RÉGIONAUX

BEST B.C. CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LA COLOMBIE BRITANNIQUE

BEST WEST CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE L’OUEST (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba

BEST ONTARIO CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE L’ONTARIO

BEST QUEBEC CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DU QUÉBEC

BEST ATLANTIC CANADA CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DES PROVINCES ATLANTIQUES

  • Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery Appletree Smoked Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Cheese is listed alphabetically within each category or award. Where more than three finalists are shown, there were many entries and close scores. The Cheese of the Year was selected after several rounds of blind tastings of the best cheeses from the above 19 main categories.

For the 2018 competition, judging on technical aspects and aesthetics took place February 22 and 23 at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, with evaluation of cheese headed by Dr. Arthur Hill, Chair and Professor, Food Science.

The Awards Ceremony takes place June 6 in Toronto at historic St. Lawrence Market. The presentation of winners will be followed by an Awards Tasting Gala open to trade, media, and special guests. The following day, June 7, the inaugural Canadian Cheese Expo trade show for cheese industry, hospitality industry, chefs, media, food writers and bloggers takes place in the afternoon with the first-ever Artisan Cheese Night Market in the evening, open to the public.

The Canadian Cheese of the Year receives a prize of $5,000, thanks to Loblaw Companies, to support a marketing campaign to exploit being named the best cheese in Canada. Champions in each cheese category and provincial or regional champions will also be selected.

In 2018, a special prize of $5,000 for marketing also will be presented to the winner of the Best Cow’s Milk Cheese Award thanks to Dairy Farmers of Canada, our Principal Partner, Cow Milk Cheese.

It is the biggest cheese competition in Canada and the first open to all milks used in cheese making—cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo—with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That means with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.

Canadian Cheese Awards is produced by Cheese Lover Productions which also operates The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario. The Cheese Festival is on hiatus in 2018 to allow resources to be devoted to the launch of Artisan Cheese Night Market and related events.

For additional information, mailto:awards@cheeselover.ca or telephone 1.866.865.2628.

Best Bites: Outstanding cheese of 2017

Le Paillasson: squeaky, slightly salty, warm on the inside.

It’s time to bring the curtain down on another year—and to recall memorable cheeses of 2017, with the help of friends in fromage.

The year just ended has been quite a memorable one for Janice Beaton, what with the closing of Janice Beaton Fine Cheese in Calgary and other dramatic changes in her life: “There is no way that I can leave the cheese world; I just had to change the way I personally operated within it.”

After the closing of the shop, Janice focused on a more personal way of serving cheese lovers by operating a stall in the very busy Calgary Farmers’ Market.

Five Brothers: Best seller.

Five Brothers—Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, Woodstock, Ontario

“Our stall at the market was great. It was a combination of being Calgary’s first cheese shop and being the market ‘deli’! It was amazing. Lots of our downtown shop customers frequented the stall, and at the same time, we developed a new following, vis-à-vis being in the city’s busiest farmers’ market. I had two staff who worked in the stall from the time we opened there, and after we closed the shop in June, I was able to work in the stall a great deal.

“The number one selling cheese in the stall was Five Brothers from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese. We LOVE that cheese, and obviously, so too our customers. What I have noticed over the five years of selling Five Brothers (and let me say, I found it originally at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival) is how it has evolved. Deepened, grown, developed nuances. Like a good human evolution! It has gained complexity and depth in a way that causes me to take my hat off to Shep Ysselstein and his commitment to excelling at his craft. And learning and growing.

“I cast my most memorable cheese vote in Gunn’s Hill direction, due to the resounding response we received when we introduced Five Brothers to our customers, and to their returning in droves to come back for more.”

La Paillasson: Enjoy on the grill or fried in a pan,

Le Paillasson—Les Fromages de L’Isle d’Orléans, Sainte-Famille, Québec

While vacationing in the Quebec City region this past summer, Gurth Pretty, Senior Specialist, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies, returned to Les Fromages de L’Isle d’Orléans.

“I had not been back, since 2005, when researching for my first book, The Definitive Guide to Canadian Artisanal and Fine Cheese. WOW! Lots of changes: bigger cheese production facility, cheese shop, sampling area, more cheese produced and sold. The shop was busy with customers.

“I sampled their Le Paillasson cheese, freshly grilled for us. It was squeaky, slightly salty, warm on the inside and yet retained its texture. YUMMY! We bought several to enjoy later on the grill or fried in the pan.”

Small Batch Cheddar: Sharp and creamy.

Small Batch Cheddar—Farm Boy, Ottawa

It’s the first cheese Farm Boy has sold under its own label, but it’s produced by Bright Cheese & Butter in Bright, Ontario, a small independent producer that has been making cheese since 1874. Arguably, that makes Bright Cheese the oldest continuing cheesemaker in Ontario.

The extra old cheddar is a collaboration between a cheese lover in the executive suite at Farm Boy in Ottawa and the tiny cheese plant located in farm land between Kitchener and Woodstock, Ontario.

As soon as it was introduced in Farm Boy’s 23 stores across Ontario, the Small Batch Cheddar became a best-seller, largely the result of the perfect balance between sharpness and creaminess—everything that a Canadian cheddar should be.

Full disclosure: Two days a week, I cheesemonger at the Farm Boy store in Pickering, Ontario.

Five more exceptional bites

Here are five exceptional cheeses savoured by Vanessa Simmons of Savvy Company,  Ottawa, our favourite cheese sommelier, during the past year:

Milkhouse Tomme: Meaty and rich.

Milkhouse Tomme—Milkhouse Farm & Dairy, Smiths Falls, Ontario

A raw sheep milk cheese from Milkhouse Dairy that has really come into its own with its meaty richness.

Five Brothers Reserve—Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, Woodstock, Ontario

Extra aged special release from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, a treat for the cheese lover on your list with its complex layers of butter over butter.

Zoey—Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario

Grassy, herbal, with earthy aromas and flavours.

Brie—Golden Ears Cheesecrafters, Maple Ridge, B.C.

Buttery, mushroomy, soft, rustic, luxurious goodness, a hidden gem if you live in British Columbia.

Le Ménestrel—Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde, Sainte-Sophie, Québec

A washed-rind cheese made with pasteurized organic milk. Pale straw to copper colour rind with a smooth paste, which tastes of butter, cream, nut and dried grass.

SAVE THE DATE!

The first-ever Canadian Artisan Cheese Night Market takes place June 7 in Toronto at historic St. Lawrence Market, in conjunction with Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens, the biggest cheese judging and competition in Canada.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, generally held on the first weekend of June in Prince Edward County, is on hiatus in 2018, so we can focus all our resources on developing the Night Market concept for consumers and the inaugural Canadian Cheese Expo for the trade.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheese-head-in-chief at CheeseLover.ca, is the founder of Canadian Cheese Awards and The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

Merry Cheesemas to one and all!

From our house to yours, all the best of Christmas! Cheese be with you in 2018!

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Seven (!) Caseus awards for cheesemaker Jean Morin

The winningest cheesemaker in Québec: Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytere.

In the 19 years that Sélection Caseus, the Québec cheese competition, has been held, no one single cheesemaker has dominated the judging the way Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère did this year.

The indefatigable Morin, in collaboration with Marie-Chantal Houde of Fromagerie Nouvelle France, was awarded the prestigious Caseus Or prize for Le Pionnier, a beautiful Alpine-style cheese made with a blend of cow’s and sheep’s milk.

Le Pionnier also was named Best Blended Milk Cheese and Best Raw Milk Cheese.

Jean Morin was honoured four more times:

  • Caseus Bronze — Religieuse, a cow’s milk cheese that is an excellent table cheese and perfect for raclette,
  • Caseus Longaevi — Louis d’Or, 2 years, the multiple-award winner that is Morin’s pride and joy,
  • Best Semi-Soft Cheese — Religieuse,
  • Best Bloomy Rind Cheese — Brie Paysan.

Top prize winner Le Pionnier with collaborators Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytere and Marie-Chantal Houde of Fromagerie Nouvelle France.

In addition to three awards with Pionnier, Marie-Chantal Houde also won with:

  • Best Sheep Milk Cheese — Zacharie Cloutier, 6 months.

Caseus Silver was awarded to Fromagerie La Station de Compton for Chemin Hatley, an organic farmstead cheese with a distinct floral flavor. It also won Best Cow Milk Cheese, Firm or Hard.

Making award-winning cheese at Fromagerie La Station is a family affair for the Bolduc family—and has been for four generations.

Other Caseus award winners:

Business that processes more than a million litres per year

Cow-milk cheese, Washed, mixed or natural rind

Soft

La Sauvagine
La Fromagerie Alexis de Portneuf
Montréal

Semi-soft

OKA Frère Alphonse
Agropur coopérative laitière
Montérégie

Firm or hard

Le Bâtisseur
Fromagerie La Vache à Maillotte
Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Bloomy rind

Le Pleine Lune
Fromagerie DuVillage 1860
Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Business that processes fewer than one million litres per year

Cow-milk cheese, Washed, mixed or natural rind

Soft

14Arpents
Fromagerie Médard
Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean

All business sizes

Goat-milk cheese

Washed, mixed or natural rind

Semi-soft

Tomme du Maréchal
Chèvrerie du Buckland
Chaudière-Appalaches

Firm or hard

Le Capra
Fromagerie La Suisse Normande
Lanaudière

Bloomy rind

Grey Owl

Fromagerie Le Détour
Bas-Saint-Laurent

Sheep-milk cheese

Washed, mixed or natural rind

Semi-soft

D’Eschambault
Fromagerie des Grondines
Capitale-Nationale

Bloomy rind

Fleur de Brebis
Fromagerie Le Détour
Bas-Saint-Laurent

All milk types or all business sizes

Unripened

Ricotta Fiorella
Saputo Produits Laitiers Canada s.e.n.c
Montréal

Interior-ripened without ripening holes

Louis Cyr
Fromagerie Bergeron
Chaudière-Appalaches

Interior-ripened with ripening holes

OKA L’Artisan
Agropur coopérative laitière
Montérégie

Best Blue Cheese and Best Organic Cheese: Fleuron made by Fromagerie de la Table Ronde.

Blue-veined

Fleuron
Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde
Laurentides

Grilling cheese

Le Fleur St-Michel
La Fromagerie du terroir de Bellechasse
Chaudière-Appalaches

Fresh curd cheese

Curds
Fromagerie P’tit Plaisir
Estrie

Cheddar

Agropur Grand Cheddar
Agropur coopérative laitière
Montérégie

Flavoured by smoking, maceration or the addition of favoured ingredients

Cheddar biologique vieilli à la bière noire
Fromagerie Perron
Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean

Flavoured by the addition of spices, vegetables, fruit or nuts

Fleur d’Ail

Fromage au Village
Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Best organic cheese

Fleuron

Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde
Laurentides

Each year, Québec’s cheesemakers are invited to submit their best creations in the competition. All cheese makers, both large and small, can enter the race and see the fruit of their labour featured among the best cheeses Québec has to offer.

In 2017, after a rigorous evaluation process, a jury of 25 experts judged and assessed more than 217 cheeses, recognized 24 winning cheeses in as many categories, and awarded the prestigious Caseus Or prize to Le Pionnier, created by La Fromagerie du Presbytère and Fromagerie Nouvelle France.

Sélection Caseus is a registered trademark of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ). MAPAQ manages the contest through a steering committee made up of partners from Québec’s cheese industry.

 

 

Seed to Sausage cured meats: handcrafted and so tasty!

Michael McKenzie of Seed to Sausage in Sharbot Lake, Ontario. Photo by Ottawa Citizen.

Michael McKenzie of Seed to Sausage in Sharbot Lake, Ontario. Photo: Ottawa Citizen.

Canadian handcrafted cured meats that are among the best in the world, that’s the mission at Seed to Sausage, says Michael McKenzie, the young man who grew the business from making sausages for family and friends in his garage in Kingston, Ontario.

Based in Sharbot Lake between Kingston and Ottawa, Mike, now 38, also has a busy retail shop in Ottawa at Gladstone and Bronson and he’s opening a butcher/sandwich-maker at the Kanata Centrum.

Many people know Mike because of Day of the Pig, the popular family event he hosts every year. This Sunday, May 21, Day of the Pig will be celebrated at Sharbot Lake Beach with a huge BBQ.

Every year since 2011, Seed to Sausage has been a mainstay at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival where McKenzie’s cured meats will be available for sampling and purchase on June 3-4.

Seed to Sausage brings a commitment to ethically raised animals and a dedication to making things its own, sourcing products right back to the seed they began with.

Beyond that, the Seed to Sausage brand has also become an ambassador for Ontario’s artisan producers, offering venues for smaller businesses to begin sharing their products with urban markets.

For Makers+Mongers, Seed to Sausage will

Here’s an idea for the grill from Seed to Sausage: Jalapeño cheese curd smokies. Photo: Laura Voskamp.

Over its eight-year history, Seed to Sausage quickly gained recognition, to the point where it’s now hard to believe we’ve ever sourced our bacon from anywhere else. The principles of “local. ethical. humble.” craft are at the core of the Seed to Sausage brand, where everything is handmade in small batches.

From sausages (don’t miss the Maple Walnut variety) to bacon (all varieties are made using real hickory smoke) to dry cured meats (McKenzie’s cuts are dry aged for 80 days), the S2S roster is extensive. Minimal added ingredients mean that the flavours of the meat shine through in McKenzie’s products, injecting a distinctly Canadian profile into traditional European styles.

Unauthorized photo of Mike McKenzie break dancing in the straw at Makers+Mongers last year.

Unauthorized photo of Mike McKenzie break dancing in the straw at a Cheese Festival after-party. Photo: Vanessa Simmons.

Beyond its own products, Seed to Sausage also boasts a gourmet grocery store, stocked with all manner of accoutrements to help you enjoy your salumi to the max. You’ll find crackers, salts, and preserves, all selected with the meats in mind.

This offering spills over into Seed to Sausage’s outpost: The S2S General Store, located on Gladstone Avenue in Ottawa. Born as a collaboration between multiple facets of Ottawa’s food scene, McKenzie has created a space where chefs, bloggers, and producers can come together to create a distribution point for small producers. The aim isn’t to be exclusive though: the S2S General Store wants its shoppers to love the products so much that they begin to ask for them at their local stores, opening up the scene for local producers to gain their own following.

McKenzie offers much credit for his success to Ken McKenzie, his father: “He’s the reason why I’m still in business.” In charge of production is Derek McGregor, formerly long-time chef at Le Chien Noir Bistro in Kingston.

Meet Mike and Derek and the rest of the S2S crew at the seventh anniversary Great Canadian Cheese Festival—the biggest artisan cheese and specialty foods show in Canada—taking place Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4, in Prince Edward County, at the Picton Fairgrounds. For complete information and tickets, please visit CheeseFestival.ca.

—This post is an updated version of a profile written in 2015 by Laura Voskamp, a cheese lover and freelance writer.

Fermented food and drink: Good for your gut

Jenna Empey with Gut Shot, an innovative digestive aid packed with probiotics.

Jenna Empey and Alex Currie make a fitting partnership both in business and in life: they started a band mere days after they began dating and eventually ran a record label together. In 2012, they launched a new business venture when they founded Pyramid Ferments in Prince Edward County, producing handcrafted fermented food and beverages using local ingredients sourced from County farmers.

Pyramid Ferments will be one of about 50—Yes, 50!—vendors offering specialty foods for sampling and purchase at fast-approaching #TGCCF. That’s on top of cheese, cheese and more cheese! Order your tickets here: https://cheesefestival.ca/tickets/

Jenna has always been passionate about working in the food and agriculture industry. She began working with local farms in the County in 2003, but took a break to move to Nova Scotia for a few years on a whim. Relocating to the city made her miss that connection to the local food scene and so she began experimenting at home with new kitchen techniques to retain a relationship with food. That’s where she discovered her love of fermenting.

“I started fermenting because it was a technique I’d never tried before and I just really got into it,” Jenna said. “Fermenting creates such complex, deep flavours from really simple ingredients and it’s such a neat experience to watch the fermenting process happen.”

It was in Nova Scotia that Jenna began selling her fermented products, beginning with local farmers’ markets and a specialty food store.

Jenna and Alex began growing their own food and making ferments to sell on a farm in Prince Edward County five years ago.

In 2012, Jenna, 33, moved home to Prince Edward County and Alex, 34, joined her. They settled on a farm and began growing all their own food and making ferments to sell, launching Pyramid Ferments.

The early days of the business were challenging, as they lived in an unheated trailer and spent their days farming the land and building up the business. Pyramid Ferments began with a variety of saurkrauts and kimchi and expanded to include kombucha shortly after. Jenna and Alex split the work; she focuses on the vegetable ferments, while he oversees the kombucha operation.

Pyramid Ferments has grown rapidly and their line of tasty and gut-healthy products has expanded. They developed Gut Shot, an innovative, potent digestive aid packed with probiotics; Beet Kvass, a traditional Eastern European probiotic drink; and a small-batch series of products that draws from what’s in season on the farm and what they can harvest through foraging.

Pyramid Ferments has earned a devoted customer base and widespread recognition for its devotion to revitalizing the fermented food movement. The company has been honoured with two Premier’s Awards for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

For Jenna, the most rewarding part of running her business is to be back in the Prince Edward County community, working alongside a supportive local food community.

“We love our lifestyle here. We work really hard and we’ve grown this business in a community that we love and that is very supportive. It’s great to live in such a nice, warm, welcoming place and to be able to grow our family and our business here,” Jenna said.

But running Pyramid Ferments hasn’t been without its challenges. As innovators in the fermented food space, Jenna and Alex have had to adapt and invent their business model as they go. They’ve learned important lessons in their first five years of business and are proud of the success they’ve earned.

“There’s no model for fermentation businesses,” Jenna said. “It’s an old technique of preserving food but it’s one that people don’t really do on a large scale anymore. There’s no book to read or mentors to turn to; we’ve had to figure everything out on our own.”

Pyramid Ferments brings its line of tasty and gut-healthy products to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 3-4.

Pyramid Ferments will bring its full range of handcrafted fermented products to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival at Picton’s Crystal Palace on June 3-4. They’re also planning to bring some prepared foods, like tangy, spicy kimchi rice. This will be their third year taking part in the Festival and Jenna is looking forward to meeting with like-minded artisan producers from across the country.

“It’s a fantastic festival and it’s inspiring to see so many high-quality artisan food producers from all over and to have them here locally in our own backyard.,” Jenna said. “We get to represent what Prince Edward County has to offer and meet a lot of really interesting food producers.”

This year, Jenna is also busy planning the first Ontario Fermentation Festival, taking place in the County in August. She and the vendors are eager to showcase the full range of fermented goods, like pickles, miso, beer, sourdough bread, chocolate and coffee.

—Phoebe Powell, senior roving reporter at CheeseLover.ca, is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her last blog post was on Kennedy boys to serve their father’s famed braised-beef poutine at #TGCCF.