First, high quality cows’ milk is gathered from Cabot’s farmer-owners, pasteurized, and then poured into a temperature-controlled vat. A starter culture of lactic acid is added to the milk, which enables the milk to reach the proper acidity.
When our cheesemakers are satisfied that the milk is ready to be turned into cheese, they add a coagulating enzyme. In about 30 minutes the curd forms. The curds are cut, stirred, and pressed together to form 42, 225, or 670 pound blocks of cheddar. The cheddar is then aged, packaged, and ultimately distributed for our consumers to enjoy.
Cabot uses a microbial-based enzyme to manufacture all of our award-winning cheeses with the exception of our Processed American Cheese slices and Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese. The microbial-based enzyme coagulates the milk into curds and whey. It is approved for vegetarians and also allows our cheeses to pass kosher certification. Our Processed American Cheese slices and our and Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese are sourced from plants that Cabot does not own, so we cannot guarantee that they are made with microbial enzymes.
In the past, whey was discarded as a by-product, but the protein rich product has gained momentous interest in the food industry. To capture this substantial interest, our farmer owners purchased a whey drying unit, which coverts our whey into whey powder. This valuable commodity is sold to manufactures that use the whey protein in their food recipes. A product that was once discarded is now helping our family farms continue their way of life.
During the manufacturing of the cheese curds, the pH, water activity, and salt concentration must be set at proper levels. This allows the natural chemical reactions in the cheese to function properly during the aging process. These natural chemical reactions vary from vat to vat due to the different subtle flavors from the milk, which are influenced by feed and weather. Some vats of cheese can age for years and continue to compound in flavor, while other vats do not. To ensure you receive the very best Cabot has to offer, we have three cheese graders who have decades of experience to determine when our Cheese is ready for packaging.
Good question. The main difference between the three products is the amount of time they are aged. Cabot Vermont Sharp has a flavor that is reliable and consistent from batch to batch and is a customer favorite. Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar has a strong cheddar flavor that many cheddar fans specifically look for. Just like its younger sibling, Cabot Vermont Sharp Cheddar, it is consistent from batch to batch. You know what you are getting every time. Seriously Sharp is another story; it’s our “wild” cheddar. Its flavor is unpredictable, always earns a “puck,” and is usually even sharper than Extra Sharp. Seriously Sharp is a top of the line product that invites you to walk on the wild side, experiment with your taste buds, and treat yourself to a cheese sensation that differs from one batch to the next.
It is true that not all cheddars are alike. Flavor profiles vary from creamery to creamery and vat to vat. Cheesemakers are free to classify the flavor profile of their cheddar as they choose. Typically, the age of the cheddar determines if it is a Mild Cheddar, a Sharp Cheddar, an Extra Sharp Cheddar, etc. Here at Cabot, we take it a step further. We naturally age our cheddar in a temperature-controlled environment, and we have four cheese graders who determine when our cheddar is truly ready for packaging. We work hard to ensure your cheddar experience is the best ever.
Yes. All of Cabot’s products are made from pasteurized milk. Pasteurization destroys undesirable pathogenic microorganisms, such as E. coli or Listeria. We choose to be overly cautious in this area to ensure our dairy products are safe.
Cabot cheese that is wax covered or stored within a vacuum-sealed bag inside the refrigerator is ideal. However, consumers can remove the original wrapper and re-wrap the cheese with plastic wrap, placing the wrapped cheese inside an airtight bag in the refrigerator. This will provide the best assurance of quality.
While the optimal temperature for cheese is between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, Cabot cheeses are hardy enough to withstand a short time period without refrigeration. Determining how long the cheese will retain its high quality is very difficult, and so we recommend keeping our cheese as cool as possible at all times. If traveling by car, the car should remain air conditioned, or the cheese should be stored in a cooler with a cooling pack. If traveling by plane, we recommend keeping your Cabot cheese refrigerated or on ice as close to travel as possible, keeping it in its original packaging, placing it in plastic, and then storing it in your luggage. It will remain flavorful and fresh for at least one day in the baggage compartment of the plane; just be sure to refrigerate it upon arriving at your final destination. One note of caution: if you are carrying cheese while flying, be sure to check your bag.
All Cabot cheeses, with the exception of Cabot Cheddar Shake, require refrigeration. We do not have packaging that will protect our cheese from the effects of heat.
Freezing cheese compromises the texture, typically resulting in extreme crumbling. If you do choose to freeze, the flavor will not be affected and the cheese is still fine for eating and cooking.
Cabot Butter can be frozen in its original wrapper for several months. However, to protect against “refrigerator flavor” we recommend wrapping the butter in foil or storing it in an airtight bag. Once thawed, Cabot butter should be stored in the refrigerator to preserve its flavor.
Cabot’s Greek Yogurt can be frozen for a delightful treat. However, freezing our yogurt or any other Cabot cultured product with the intent of thawing it for use at a later time may result in an unsatisfactory texture. The product will not be harmful, but it will be more difficult to work with.
We use as little salt as possible, but salt is an important ingredient in our cheese making process for four reasons. First: Salt balances the enzyme activity needed to create our cheese. If the enzymes were left unchecked, the cheese would spoil very quickly. Second: Salt helps expel whey from the curds. This is an important part of the manufacturing process. Third: Salt acts as a preservative. And finally: salt acts as a flavor enhancer. A lack of salt would likely produce cheese not fit to eat.
Monogylceride is a substance used to improve the texture of our reduced fat cheddar. The monoglyceride that we use in our 75% Reduced Fat Cheddar is derived from vegetable oil — specifically palm oil — but only contributes .01g to the total fat content. It does not contain any trans fats. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found naturally in milk but is lost when whole milk is reduced in fat content. By law, we are required to add Vitamin A back to reduced fat milk products. The addition of palmitic acid, one of the most common fatty acids found in plants, allows the vitamin to remain stable.
We earnestly tried to use real horseradish in our Cheddar, but over time, real horseradish negatively impacted the integrity of our cheese. The flavor used in our Horseradish Cheddar is an all-natural combination of oils, mustard, and other spices, which we add to our natural Cabot cheese.
The “natural flavor” in unsalted butter refers to lactic acid and starter distillate. Lactic acid is derived from the fermentation of sugar, and its primary function is to preserve the shelf life and add flavor to the unsalted butter. Starter distillate is produced from cultured milk using select lactic cultures and purified by steam distillation. This product provides buttery undertones.
Cabot does not add trans fat to our yogurt. However, there is naturally occurring trans fat in dairy products. This type of trans fat is far different from man-made trans fat. In fact, preliminary research suggests that one natural trans fat, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), may reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. We strive to provide consumers with a safe and delicious source of protein and calcium in our products. For more information click here or click here.
The unique aging process of our Clothbound Cheddar cheese limits the quantity available to our customers. If you are not able to find our Clothbound Cheddar in you area, please order from our online shopping system or from our Specialty Sales Center (toll free 1-800-639-3198). We will be pleased to hear from you and ship your order promptly.
As a co-operative, our couponing efforts are limited because 100% of our profits are returned to our farm family owners. Nevertheless, we encourage you to sign up for our e-newsletter and/or become a fan on Facebook, as we do occasionally send out special offers to our loyal fans as our way of saying thank you.
Cabot uses #5 plastic containers and lids to package cultured products. Plastic #5 has a weight advantage over other packaging materials that saves fossil fuels. The lightweight containers and lids are durable enough to withstand the stresses of shipping and handling and perform to the level of food safety that we expect for our cultured products. Check with your curbside recycling provider to see if they accept #5 plastic. “All-In-One” recycling, which accepts #5 plastic, is growing in popularity. The plastic used to package our cheese is not recyclable. It is made up of several layers, which are needed for printing, sealing, food safety and quality, but that can make recycling difficult. We continue to explore packaging solutions that provide improved quality performance but create less waste. Learn more about some of our other sustainability efforts: /sustainability.
Our plastic packaging and plastic containers do not contain Bisphenol A.
Cabot’s land spreading of washwater does not pollute nor spread toxic chemicals. Regulations and quality standards require that we clean the creamery pipes and equipment each time we make our dairy products. We collect this washwater and spread it on the fields of landowners who wish to receive it. We hope this web page allays concerns by sharing the facts from our community discussions and information forum.
Agri-Mark was originally founded in 1913 as the New England Milk Producers Association. While it is currently incorporated in Delaware, Agri-Mark has always operated as a co-operative. Please note the fact that 100% of our profits are paid back to our farmer-owners each year and our Board of Directors are all dairy farmers. We are also qualified as a dairy farmer cooperative per USDA rules and regulations. The farmer-owners elect local farmers to represent them on the Board of Directors, co-op committees, etc. and are active in policy-making decisions in many ways.
Agri-Mark is currently headquartered in Methuen, Massachusetts. Our cooperative of farm family owners are located throughout New England and Upstate New York. Our farmers have supported investments of over $100 million in plants, property, and equipment in the past 20 years. We manage four plants in three states, employing over 1,000 people. Award-winning cheeses are made in Cabot and Middlebury, Vermont and Chateaugay New York. The best premium butter is churned in West Springfield, Massachusetts and in Cabot, Vermont we produce light cheddars, flavored cheddars, greek-style yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream. While all our profits are returned to our farmer owners, we are dedicated to supporting our local workforce and the communities in which our members farm and where we produce and sell dairy products.
Hunter’s Cheddar got its start when we sold “trim” — the rough edges from our blocks of cheddar — to hunters as they passed by the Cabot plant in the fall. The super tangy, “extra sharp gone awry” taste quickly gained popularity, demanding bigger sizes and eventually earning our Hunter’s Cheddar a year-round following. As we grew our business, we added Hunter’s to our line of 8-oz bars available in the dairy case. But when sales expanded beyond New England and into the Southeast, our bold, black-and-red Buffalo plaid packaging, which represents the traditional hunting gear of the north, just didn’t translate to camouflage-clad southern hunters. So, we made “a hunter’s favorite” the secondary line and rechristened the cheese “Seriously Sharp Cheddar.” (Admittedly, we borrowed the designation “Seriously Sharp” from England — it just captures the personality of the cheese better than other names we considered, like “Tangy Extra Sharp” or “Pucker Cheddar.”)
Cabot Cream Cheese, Whipped Cream and Spreadable Cheddars are sourced from plants that may produce products that contain nuts or tree nuts.
Cabot does not offer organic products. Most of Cabot’s farms are not organic, and it is their personal choice to remain that way. However, all 800 of our farm families work together to maintain the highest standards and ensure that our products, including the World’s Best Cheddar, are produced in a natural way.
Our co-operative goes to great lengths to ensure the safety, health, and happiness of our cattle. All of the members on our Board of Directors are active dairy farmers. Our farmers all rely on each other to provide high quality, safe milk that is in turn converted to various world class cheeses and other dairy products, and they know you can only achieve top notch results if your cattle are healthy and happy.
What exactly do we do? We are enrolled in a program called FARM, Farmers Assuring Responsible Management, whose goal is to demonstrate and verify that milk producers are committed to the highest standards in animal care. As part of this program our seventeen field representatives, who routinely make unannounced visits to our farms, are trained to ensure that there is no mistreatment of any animals on our farms.
Every farm in our co-operative is a family farm, and herd sizes are very small compared to other parts of the country. Our average member milks less than 140 cows, and even our largest farms are family operations with several generations working on the farm. Please feel free to take a virtual tour of some of these farms on our website at “farm tour.”
We are a co-operative of more than 800 family farms, where each farm is independently managed. This results in a variety of cow breeds; however, much of our milk comes from a mix of Jerseys and Holsteins.
Our cows are raised in different ways. We are a co-operative of more than 800 family farms, where each farm is independently managed. Each farm is different in terms of herd size, landscape, soil makeup, etc., so practices differ among farms. We know that more than two-thirds of our 800 farm families pasture their herds during the late spring and summer months when weather allows. Others allow their cows to go out and get fresh air and exercise, but keep the cows close to the barn where fresh feed, water, and protection are always available. When the cows are not out to pasture, many are in free-stall barns that provide plenty of space for eating and exercising. Bedding is changed frequently. The use of pasture, as with the use of corn or grass as a primary feed or some combination of both, varies from farm to farm, depending largely upon the type of land.
The main source of sustenance for the cows in our co-operative is corn silage, grass silage, pasture, and dried hay (all of these are usually grown on the farm or locally), or a combination of these types of feed. Many of our farmer-owners work with dairy nutrition experts and will supplement the feed with high-energy pellet grain or other commodities if needed to properly balance the cows’ diet. The goal is to give the cows plenty of nutritious food so that they stay healthy and provide good quality milk.
No antibiotics are in any Cabot products. We conduct tests for antibiotics on all milk before it enters our plants according to all federal and state laws and regulations. There are serious penalties and consequences for our farmers if they were to ship milk from an animal on antibiotics. Cows occasionally get sick, just like humans do, and have to be administered antibiotics. However, when a cow is treated with antibiotics, the farmer must discard that cow’s milk for a certain period of time before it can go into the bulk tank with the other healthy cows’ milk. This is called “withholding time,” and it varies from medicine to medicine. The farmer dumps that milk until it is clean of any residue. Testing throughout the milk handling process ensures that no mistakes can be made.
On December 20, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized its much-anticipated National Bioengineered (BE) Food Disclosure Standard, requiring food manufacturers and retailers to include mandatory, uniform disclosure for certain BE foods and BE food ingredients on food labels.
With enforcement beginning on January 1, 2022, the final rule provides a consistent and national labeling standard, preempting efforts by state officials to enact individual state labeling laws that imposed contradictory and costly labeling requirements. Cabot is working with their suppliers to determine what ingredients contain BE material. An appropriate compliance strategy will be drafted and implemented after all the information has been received. You can access this more information about this legislation here.
We are a co-operative of more than 800 family farms from all six New England states and New York, and each farm is different in acreage, the type of land they have, the crops they are able to grow and where they source those crops and/or other feed inputs they buy.
In the Northeast, there are only 4-5 months of grazing weather, excluding the harsher months of the year. We know that more than two-thirds of our farms use pasture when it is available to supplement the cow’s feed and provide exercise for the animals. We also know that many cows prefer to be in the barn where fresh feed and water is always available. Thus, the usage of pasture will vary from farm to farm, depending largely upon the season and the type of land available.
The main, basic ingredients for the feed for dairy cows on our member farms consist of any combination of corn silage, hay silage, dry hay and pasture. Many of our farmers use dairy nutrition experts to “balance” the ration for consistent production of milk and to maintain a healthy cow. Usually supplemental protein and energy are used to accomplish the needed results. The kernel portion of the corn plant supplies additional energy and soybeans are the main source of protein.
However, most member farms do not have the acreage or equipment to supply the needed extra energy and protein. Therefore, they need to purchase the supplemental energy and protein from feed dealers. There is only a small amount of corn grown in the U.S. that is not genetically altered and not readily available. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates, during 2015, 92 percent of corn (maize) and 94 percent of soy grown in the United States were genetically modified to grow larger plants with larger ears of corn that resist disease, drought, fungus, herbicides, insects, etc.
Corn or alfalfa crops produced through biotechnology are a way to limit the amount of herbicides our farmers need to use. This makes for fewer problems for the local water sources and for enough good quality feed for our animals.
In addition, the USDA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have all confirmed the safety of food and animal feed that contain genetically modified organisms. For these reasons, our farmer-owners have not banned their own use of GMO corn, soybeans or alfalfa.
Providing consumers with safe products is the number one priority for America’s food and beverage companies. That is why the Grocery Manufacturers Association created www.FactsAboutGMOs.org as the best source of information for consumers seeking answers to their questions about the safety, prevalence and benefits of genetically modified food ingredients. See more at:www.gmaonline.org and at: American Dairy Association and Dairy Council.
The FDA has approved biotech foods, but so have Food Canada, the European Food Safety Authority, the Food Standards agencies for Australia and New Zealand, and various agencies in Japan and Korea, among others. This group comprises the majority of food safety agencies among nearly every developed nation.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) work to ensure that crops produced through genetic engineering for commercial use are properly tested and studied to make sure they pose no significant risk to consumers or the environment.
Nutrients in meat, milk and eggs from livestock fed biotech feeds are the same as those from livestock fed conventional feeds. Because most components of feeds are broken into smaller components during digestion by the animal, plant proteins have not been detected in milk, meat or eggs. More than 40 crops have gone through the FDA consultation process and been developed for market, ensuring that any human food or animal feed derived from new plant varieties are safe to eat. www.fass.org/geneticcrops.pdf
Yes, Cabot produces many cheeses that contain zero (0) grams of lactose, including Cheddar, Light Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, and Muenster. In general, eating any aged cheese should not affect those with lactose intolerance because lactose — the major carbohydrate in milk — disappears within 3 to 4 weeks after the cheese is made. For more information, click here.
During the cheese-making process, the microbial-based enzymes coagulate milk into curds and whey. The whey, which contains most of the lactose, is drained from the curds. The curds are then pressed into cheese. If any residual lactose remains in the cheese, it will be completely broken down within 3 to 4 weeks. Learn more about our Lactose-Free cheese here.
All of Cabot’s products are gluten-free with the exception of the spreadable cheddars and deli cheese that is repacked at your local grocery store. Due to our sourcing, we cannot guarantee spreads to be wheat-free. Repacked deli cheese is wrapped at store level where gluten could be present leading to contamination. All of the rest of Cabot’s products and ingredients have been researched and verified to be gluten-free and are produced in a gluten-free environment. For more information, click here.
Cabot is certified kosher and offers a broad range of kosher dairy products, including cheese, cultured products and butters. Under the supervision of a rabbi, Cabot maintains kosher standards. In addition, Cabot offers a broad range of halal cheddar cheeses that have met the rules and regulations specified by a supervising Islamic Administrator. Cabot cheeses are certified by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America and by Tablet K, with the exception of Smoky Bacon, Clothbound, Spreadable cheeses, Shredded, and Sliced Cheeses (including American), ¾ oz bars and snack sticks. With the exceptions previously noted, Cabot Cheeses are made without any animal rennet. Look for this icon on the packaging of your favorite Cabot cheese products to be sure they are certified.
Cabot Cultured and Butter products are certified OU Kosher and are made without animal rennet. Be sure to look for this icon on the packaging of your favorite Cabot cultured or butter products to be sure they are certified.
A rabbi must inspect the production and packaging of our products before certification is given. Some Cabot products do not qualify for kosher certification because the packaging or production takes place in facilities that are not our own.
Cabot Creamery produces cheese nearly every day of the year, and we naturally age our cheese anywhere from 3 months to 5 years. The supervising OU rabbi must be present at the creamery during production and packaging of our cheese to certify our cheeses OU, thus we would need to procure the OU rabbi’s services for an extended period to certify Cabot cheese OU. We are not able to do so and market our cheese effectively.
It requires 1.16 gallons (or ten pounds) of whole milk to make one pound of cheddar. To make one pound of butter it takes 2.47 gallons (or 22 pounds) of whole milk.
All cheddar made from cows’ milk is naturally white, the color of milk. However, as Cabot’s distribution expanded, it became more important to provide orange or yellow cheddar. Some say this preference dates back many centuries to when cheesemakers tried to match the exact color of cheddar from Cheddar, England. Regardless of preference, we use a coloring called annatto. Annatto is from a South American plant and does not affect the flavor or the texture of the cheese.
Cattle are two years old before they are able to become pregnant and enter the milking herd. They will remain in the milking herd as long as they are able to provide enough milk to cover costs, typically between six and nine years.
Our airtight packaging usually prevents mold from growing on our cheeses, but exposure to air causes cheese to mold. If you see mold on your cheese, all you have to do is cut it off. Cut away at least a half inch of cheese on all sides of the visible mold. We recommend keeping your knife out of the mold spots as you are cutting. The flavor of the remaining cheese should be fine, but it’s best to use it up quickly.
As natural cheddar ages, it typically becomes drier and more crumbly in texture. Many cheddar connoisseurs prefer this type of cheddar. However, in extreme cases of crumbly cheddar, it is possible that the cheese accidently froze, perhaps in transit or in storage. While the cheese is still fine for eating, melts well, and works nicely to flavor your favorite recipes, it may be more difficult to work with.
Proteins in the cheese release moisture as they age in a process known as “syneresis.” This is typically a small amount of moisture, and it does not damage the cheese in any way, rather it allows the cheese to reach the next stage of maturity. We recommend you simply wipe off any excessive moisture, wrap the cheese in fresh plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator.
When cheddar cheese is described as “crunchy,” “gritty,” or containing hard, peppercorn sized white pellets, it is usually because of an amino acid called Tyrosine. Tyrosine occurs as the milk proteins age. At Cabot, we age our cheese naturally using our time-honored traditions. Cheddar that is aged over 12 months may contain milk proteins that have crystallized during the aging process. This happens rarely and is not a defect in the aging process. This crystallized protein is not dangerous to eat and some customers even prefer it as a hallmark of outstanding aged cheddar. For more information, click here.
While butter can be kept at room temperature, the American Butter Institute recommends always storing butter in the refrigerator at or below 40°F, or in the freezer, to ensure maximum quality and guard against spoiling.
For consumers who wish to purchase products derived from cows not treated with rBST, Agri-Mark‘s Cabot brand offers a wide selection of cheese and other dairy products. Check the label for information about the rBST status of a particular product. An rBST-free icon on the package means that the product was produced with milk from cows not treated with rBST. If there is no icon, the rBST status of the product cannot be assured. With this system, the consumer will always know at point of purchase if a claim can or cannot be made.
We expect that more of our products will have the rBST-free icon in the future.
*By law we must note: The FDA has stated that there is no significant difference between milk from rBST-treated and untreated cows.