Hi friends! Happy Friday! Today, I want you to meet Tim Pedrozo. He and his wife Jill, along with their children, are proud owners of Pedrozo Dairy and Cheese Company!
A 3rd generation dairyman, Tim and his family have been at their present location in Orland, Ca since January 1999. They produce high quality, Farmstead cheese using milk from their dairy. Their cows (they call them “ladies”) are 100% grass fed. Tim grows the grass on different patches of land and the cows graze in those pastures all year. They don’t have any added grains in their diet at all!
What is “farmstead” cheese, you ask? Great question! I asked Tim the same thing. He told us “Great cheese comes from great milk.” He and his family work hard to take great care of their cows and ensure they are being true to the traditions of small batch, family-owned, locally produced cheese. This means every single step of production is carefully monitored, from the grass they grow, to how their cows are milked, to following time-honored, heritage cheese recipes and using local products that showcase the community in which they live! They hand package and label everything themselves too. Nothing is outsourced!
They make cheese three days a week at the Dairy. We were able to get a tour to see exactly how it’s done!
This is the milk barn. You have to milk the cows to make cheese! It was a bit smaller than I anticipated, but it gets the job done!
After the cows are milked, the milk gets sent to the production room! Tim makes one batch at a time in this huge wood covered Cheese Vat from Holland. They make raw milk cheese at Pedrozo which means the milk is not pasteurized by heating it. Their milk is able to retain more flavor and produces a better quality cheese.
They have different size cheese presses and can produce anything from 2 lbs wheels up to 16 lb wheels of cheese. Once the cheese has been pressed, it’s then soaked in a saltwater solution to create a rind that will protect the cheese during the aging process.
All their cheeses are aged at least 60 days and the longest (so far) is a wheel that’s been in the aging room for almost two years. This may have been my favorite room in the entire place. Kept at a consistent temperature 24 hours a day, this is where the magic happens. Cheese sits on these shelves to develop their unique flavors. Most of the moisture in the cheese is pressed out during production and it will become a bit firmer as it ages. I couldn’t quite figure out how to stuff a 2 lb wheel in my camera bag to bring it home, but I sure thought about it!
After the tour, Tim and his son lead us to a pretty table near one of his grazing fields and let us try several of their cheeses! There may have been wine too. Cheese has to be paired with *something* right?
We tried a few different varieties and I honestly couldn’t pick a favorite! There was their Black Butte Reserve, which they make only during the spring, because that’s when the spring grasses are full and lush and the flavors really come through in the cheese. We also tried their Northern Gold, which is their original recipe, Garlic and Herb, Sweet Italian Red Pepper and Black Truffle Cheese. Yes, you read that right. Black Truffle Cheese! My cheese-loving heart was so very happy! Certain times during the year they make cheeses soaked in local wine from Mount Tehama’s Petite Sirah or local Sierra Nevada Stout Beer.
What I found most interesting about this stop on our tour, is the different ways a dairyman uses water, versus how a farmer uses water. Tim uses water to grow grass in his pastures for the cows to eat. He provides fresh drinking water for them. Then of course, he must use water to maintain the cleanliness of his facility (and let me tell you, that place was spotless!! I was so impressed!) You need water for so many things, but you also have to deal with waste water in an environmentally safe way. Time does that too!
You can find the Pedrozo Dairy and Cheese Co online, but Tim also sells at local farmers markets throughout the year and they offer tours of their facilities. It was great to learn about artisan cheese making and farmsteading. Thanks to the California Farm Water Coalition and the Pedrozo Family at Pedrozo Dairy and Cheese Co for this tasty stop on our tour!
Next up is Sierra Nevada Brewing Company! See you next Friday for all that delicious, hoppy goodness!
Until then friends, live life deliciously!