Cheese of the Week: Jasper Hill Farm Harbison
Deliciously creamy bark-wrapped bloomy cheese from Vermont.
Jasper Hill Farm Harbison is an ultra gooey, almost fondue-like soft-ripened cheese.
Not yet seen on a Cheese of the Week, Harbison is wrapped in a strip of spruce cambium, which is the interior bark layer of spruce trees. This bark is harvested right from Jasper Hill’s woodlot. This does not only add a woodsy aroma to the cheese, but helps the gooey, creamy cheese keep its shape and structure. If you are enjoying Harbison closer to its expiration date, it is best to leave the bark strap in tact! In my opinion, this is the best way to enjoy it. Cut off the top and dig into the luxurious, melty interior! When young, the strap can be removed and the cheese can be sliced.
Harbison's rind is wrinkly and white with some brown streaks. It has a buttery yet herbaceous flavor with delicate notes of roasted hazelnuts, lemon and spruce from the bark strap. Harbison is inspired by French Vacherin Mont D'Or, an extremely sought after French cheese wrapped in spruce.
Harbison is named after Anne Harbison, who is affectionately nicknamed as the grandmother of Greensboro, Vermont. Jasper Hill Farms honors Anne's contributions to the local working landscape with the creation of this cheese.
The premium pasteurized cow's milk used to make Harbison comes from local pasture-based farms. The cheese is then made on-site at Jasper Hill Farms and then arrives at the farm's underground aging cellars. The cheese is hand-wrapped in the spruce cambium wood strips and then aged for 6-13 weeks. During this time, the bloomy rind develops and the interior gets increasingly creamy. The cheeses are patted down to remove excess mold and flipped for even texture throughout the ripening process. This care and attention to detail is what makes Harbison so delicious!
Fascinatingly, Jasper Hill Farms has developed their own nutrient recovery system to manage the creamery's waste that they call the Green Machine. The Green Machine is "an enclosed, integrated, biological treatment system for managing the manure, whey, and wash-water from the barn and creamery". This waste-management system creates compost, clean irrigation water, and heat energy from previously burdensome waste.
Jasper Hill Farms suggests enjoying Harbison with oaked white wine, barrel-aged sour beer, fruit mostarda and crusty bread. I recommend trying it with fresh apples, regular or fruit-flavored honey and cider. Check out the rest of Jasper Hill Farm's phenomenal hand-crafted cheeses here!