The cheese aisle is akin to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in my eyes, and most of my Saturdays are spent resisting the urge to dive face-first into the cheese case, Augustus Gloop style. And with Orland Farmstead’s value-added and fresh cheese line, the temptation is all too real to just start chowing down before making it home.
Setting itself apart amongst California cheesemakers, Orland Farmstead is shaking the cheese aisle up with its fresh process, innovative flavors, and consumer-focused eye for convenience. I caught up with Partner Valerie Miller to learn more about the company’s latest endeavors.
“We’re a farmstead cheese, so we use all of our own milk. We do all fresh cheeses unlike a lot of cheese companies in California that do aged cheeses. Our milk is also pasteurized instead of raw, which is when we start our cheese making process. It takes three days from when we pasteurize until we package to make our cheese, so in total our cheese takes seven to ten days maximum from the time the cow is milked until the cheese is packaged,” Valerie explains. “Now, we’re in the process of partnering with local producers in our area to create two snack packs—one with four different cheeses and one with pork sticks, crackers, Orland Farmstead cheese, and nuts or olives to top it off.”
After buying a dairy in the late 70s, Valerie’s business partner, Paul Schmidt, started to build a processing plant in 2000 to do bottled milk, but he never actually started bottling milk. Valerie, who took up cheesemaking as a hobby because her daughter was raising a 4H dairy goat, taught a cheesemaking class at the recreation center in Chico and received a call one day from Paul who asked if Valerie could teach him how to make cheese. After forming a partnership in 2011, Orland Farmstead has been growing its product line ever since.
Initially starting with its popular Fromage Blanc, the company later added Queso Fresco, which is available in its original flavor and blended with jalapenos. Over the years, the Fromage Blanc was also expanded into different flavors, including offerings layered with sundried tomatoes and pesto and a seasonal offering with cranberry and walnuts. And, at this year’s California Artisan Cheese Festival, Orland Farmstead introduced a new Fromage Blanc flavor that is currently still in a test market—Bacon Jam.
“Our customers really love the Fromage Blanc and all of its different flavors. Our customers are also always surprised by our Cow’s Milk Feta. Feta is usually made from sheep or goat milk because it has a stronger flavor, so at first glance, a lot of people don’t want to taste our feta. But once they try it, they love it, which is super fun,” Valerie says, who also notes the Cow’s Milk Feta is available in original and with sundried tomatoes and oregano.
And continuing its trend of mixing things up in the cheese aisle, Orland Farmstead also offers its signature Riccotage—a house creation that came about because of the dairy’s Grade B certification. It is made with the same process and culture as cottage cheese, but has a similar texture to ricotta. The Riccotage also comes in garlic and dill.
Available in 8-oz clear, plastic, recyclable containers, Orland Farmstead products can be found throughout Northern California specialty and mainstream grocery stores. For more on companies shaking things up in deli, dairy, bakery, and specialty foods, Deli Market News will continue to report with the latest.