David Johnson and Laurie Jensen grew up on neighbouring farms in the small Gippsland village of Neerim South. Both families have been dairy farmers for many generations and Laurie’s great grandfather, a Danish emigrant, often made cheese on his farm in east Gippsland, kindling his interest in cheese and inspiring him to complete a degree in dairy technology.
In 1982, Tarago River Cheese Company was founded when David’s parents formed a partnership with Laurie and his dad, building a small cheesery alongside the milking dairy on the Johnson’s Hillcrest farm. Tarago River Cheese Company is named after the river that winds its way around the gently sloping hills of this renowned dairy region. The farm, now grown to over 500 acres, is home to 400 Holstein-Friesian and Jersey-cross cows who are milked twice daily. The fresh milk, travelling only a dozen or so paces from dairy to the cheesery, is pasteurized and transformed into a range of handmade, Australian farmhouse cheeses.
Shadows of Blue begins its life when specially selected cultures are added to the creamy, farmhouse milk. The resulting curd is cut into dice-sized cubes. After gentle stirring, they are hand-ladled into cloth-lined hoops for draining.
Two days later, the cheeses are hand-salted then enrobed in a fine coating of wax and placed on Kauri timber shelves in the maturation room where they stay for 2 months. Maturation under wax locks in moisture which produces a sweet flavour and creamy texture, as well as providing support to this soft blue cheese.
Spiking is done through the wax, allowing air to reach the centre of the cheese and cultivate the blue mould within. Mild and creamy, this mellow blue is a good choice for those who are new to enjoying blue cheese, thanks to the limited blue mould development and sweet flavour. If portioning the cheese into small wedges, keep the wax intact for easier cutting.