First Cheese a Charm for Pennyroyal Farm
The corners was one of the original names of Boonville, the tiny Mendocino County, California enclave first located at the corner of Highways 128 and 253. Due to the small size of the town, one could easily miss it driving through the area. That is not the case for its namesake cheese, 2 Month Boont Corners Tomme from Pennyroyal Farms, an award-winner made from fresh, raw milk. The 3-pound wheels are distinguishable, as these are aged on wooden planks to promote their unique flavor profile.
Boont Corners was one of the first cheeses Pennyroyal Farm began making. Because this is a small farmstead creamery, Erika McKenzie-Chapter, Pennyroyal Farm’s head cheesemaker and herd manager, has the ability to work with 40- and 50-gallon vats of milk from individual morning and evening milkings, side by side.
“These ‘morning milk Corners’ and ‘evening milk Corners’ batches allowed us to follow flavor development where the only variations in the make process were the milk fat and protein,” she says. “Tasting batches as they aged from two months up to a year or more, we found that milk from our morning milkings, which typically is slightly lower in milk fat averaging 3.5 to 4 percent versus 3.8 to 4.5 percent in our evening milk, yielded wheels with a cleaner, sharper flavor profile as they matured, particularly beyond 10 months of age.”
Pennyroyal Farm has since developed an allocation system, where batches of Boont Corners made from milk that is 4 percent milk fat or higher are designated as its 2 Month Boont Corners, which is sold at two to four months of age. By comparison, batches made from milk that is 3.6 to 3.9 percent milk fat are designated as Vintage Boont Corners, which is sold at five to seven months of age, and cheese made from milk that is 3.5 percent or lower milk fat are aged for eight months or more and receive the Reserve designation.
“As a seasonal dairy, milking goats from late February through December and sheep from late February through mid September, we have both a strong seasonal influence on the composition of our milk as well as the diurnal influence on composition,” says McKenzie-Chapter. “We make cheese daily from individual milkings, with the lower fat morning milk going into our small 10- to 20-wheel batches of Boont Corners.”
But it’s the batches made in the early spring and early winter, the start and finish of the goats’ lactation, that are highest in fat and become 2 Month Boont Corners. This variety is characterized by a slightly pliable texture and a milky flavor that often has undertones of green grass.
The 2 Month Boont Corners took second in the 2018 American Cheese Society’s Farmstead Category Aged 60 days or more—made from mixed or other milks.
It pairs perfectly with reserves, especially Eye of the Needle Vineyard’s 2015 Pinot Noir. The cheese also is an excellent ingredient for making savory pastries, like an olive and sundried tomato tart or mushroom palmiers.
It is available direct via Pennyroyal’s Boonville tasting room and at the farm’s online store as well as at select Mendocino Country grocers and cheese boutiques in California’s Bay area.