With raw milk from their 30 Jersey cows, the Flory family of Jamesport, Missouri, is making one of the country’s finest Cheddars. I first tasted Flory’s Truckle at the American Cheese Society conference last year, and finally a few of these handsome wheels have arrived on the West Coast.
A truckle is an Old World term for a tall, cylindrical cheese. I’ve never heard it applied to anything but Cheddar. The Florys began producing the truckle about six years ago, two years after launching their Homestead Creamery. Although Neville McNaughton, a prominent consultant, taught them the basics of cheese making in a week-long crash course, the truckle recipe is their own.
Jennifer Flory, the oldest of eight daughters, manages production of about fifty 20-pound truckles a week. (No wonder it’s scarce.) She follows a traditional Cheddar process, shaping and pressing the curds in cheesecloth-lined molds and maturing the truckles in their cheesecloth wrap so they can breathe. Early on, the truckles are coated with lard to slow moisture loss and encourage a rind to develop—another traditional practice.
When the cheese is two months old, she sends it to Milton Creamery in southern Iowa, a producer with more aging space. The crew at Milton babysits it for the next 10 months, turning it and brushing it periodically to keep the external mold under control. The molds consume the lard so you won’t see any trace of it on the year-old cheese.
Flory’s Truckle has a natural rind and a pale gold interior with many openings. You may spot a few tiny white protein crystals in the paste, a mark of maturity. I find classic Cheddar aromas—melted butter, just-mown grass, toasted nuts—and a fruity pineapple note as well. It strikes me as sweeter than most English Cheddars but with that signature tang in the end. Overall, the cheese exhibits that delicate balance of sweet, salt and tart that makes you come back for more.
Jamesport has a large Mennonite population and the largest community of Amish west of the Mississippi. Many of the Amish dairy farms have folded in recent years, says Flory, because they were too small to survive. The Florys are German Baptist, a small sect similarly committed to plain dress and simple living. Hopefully, converting their milk into high-value cheese will be this family’s path to success.
Look for Flory’s Truckle at Cheese Plus and Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco. Avery Brewing Ellie’s Brown Ale would be my drink of choice.