Cheese Whisperer: New Zealand Cheddar

FonterraChedNew to the Co-op’s Specialty Cheese Island — New Zealand ‘s Fonterra/Mainland Cheddar, made from grass-fed pasteurized cow milk.  And it’s an amazing deal: on sale now for $7.99 per lb!

This medium sharp cheddar is aged for at least 6 months, which makes for a buttery and smooth cheese. It has a friendly, approachable flavor with subtle sweetness and a slight tang on the finish. The cheddar is sturdy, easily slice-able and holds up well in a grilled cheese sandwich. Sure to be a hit on cheese plates, in cheese-y recipes, or in school lunches, Fonterra cheddar also makes a tasty dip for veggies, chips, or crackers.

The Fonterra company is proud of its roots. Founded in 2001, the Fonterra Co-operative Group sources milk from New Zealand dairy farmers who graze their cattle on the renown lush, green pastures of their island. They now work with Mainland Dairy and export 95% of their products to cheese lovers around the globe.

Fonterra Cheddar Dip


  • 3 cups (12 oz.) grated Fonterra cheddar
  • 2/3 cup amber beer (try Elysian Brewing’s Men’s Room Red or Hale’s Ales Red Menace)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1-2 seeded fresh jalapeno peppers (optional)


In food processor or blender, pulse together cheese, beer, sour cream, mayonnaise, pepper (if desired) and spices, scraping down side occasionally, until smooth and creamy. Serve or store covered in fridge for up to 4 days. Flavor intensifies as the ingredients blend. Serve with vegetables, chips, bread or crackers.

The Cheese Whisperer: Poacher’s Cheddar

PoachersCheddarThere never seems to be a shortage of tasty cheddar out there.

Welcome new arrivals from British cheese purveyor Somerdale: Poacher’s, Tintern, Red Dragon, and Harlech creamy English Cheddars. This wonderfully potent and flavorful series of gluten-free specialty cheddar wedges (except the Red Dragon, with its barley malt brewed ale) are blended with herbs and spices and made with vegetarian rennet.

Tintern features the earthy zest of chives and shallots. Red Dragon offers the bright spice of mustard seed and Welsch ale. Harlech is infused with horseradish and parsley.

Poacher’s Cheddar is simply delightful as a medley of natural aged white cheddar and caramelized onions. This combination of velvety smooth cheese with sweet onions is wonderfully versatile.

Poacher’s Cheddar is best served at room temperature, when it is spreadable and slightly crumbly, and its smoky, sweet flavors are enhanced. Warm it up, add some crumbled bacon, whisk in a bit of milk or cream, and garnish with green onions for a terrific veggie or chip dip. Or try adding it to a crisp green salad for a boost of protein and tangy flavor! To keep it simple, pair it with early season apples and toast!


The Cheese Whisperer: It’s All Gluten Free

BarberssliceSensitive to gluten, and mindful of what you eat because of a gluten intolerance? Have we got the news for you: most natural cheese is gluten free! The ingredients of cheese: milk, cultures, and salt, are themselves gluten-free. The risk of gluten contamination only increases when we buy cheese with artificial flavorings and stabilizers. All cheeses in the Co-op’s cheese department are gluten-free, because we don’t carry cheese with artificial flavors or stabilizers. Simple as that! Here’s the skinny on our latest featured curd treat:

BarbersCheddBarbers 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar is back by popular demand at an amazingly affordable price: $9.99 per pound! This natural, extra aged (20+ months) British white cheddar is made on the Barber family farm, the oldest cheddar producing family farm in Britain (since 1833). For six generations, the Barbers have crafted this cheddar on their farm in Ditcheat, Somerset in the Valley of Cheddar.

Barber’s cheddar is made from fresh pasteurized milk from the family’s herd of grass-fed cows. Traditionally the cheese is made by “cheddaring”, hand-turning the curds to give the cheese exceptional body and character. The result is worth the wait: smooth and creamy with a hint of sweetness to balance out the tangy sharpness.

Barbers 1833 Cheddar is ever so versatile in the kitchen, view an earlier Cheese Whisperer article on Barber Cheddar for a tasty Cauliflower Cheddar Soup recipe. Add it to your favorite cheese dish: mac-n-cheese, cheddar and broccoli, or plain old grilled cheese sandwiches.

Posted by Claire

Skagit Brew Corner: Going Gluten-Free


Looking for gluten-free brews? Let the Co-op’s Gluten-Free label be your guide!

In addition to hard ciders, the Co-op’s Beer Department carries a range of gluten-free options for brew hounds, including: Omission, New Grist, Estrella Daura Lager, Harvester/Ground Breaker Brewing, and Green’s ales. Some are brewed with traditional ingredients and have the gluten removed, some are crafted from gluten-free ingredients. Each has its own qualities and merits; here’s a quick guide to GF brews:

EstDauraEstrella Damm Daura from Barcelona, Spain – 5.4% ABV.  This European-lager-style brew is made from barley malt, but contains less than 5 ppm of gluten (well below the 20 ppm standard of “gluten free”). It’s been awarded an impressive number of international gold medals for best gluten-free beer from 2008-2014, including golds at the International Taste & Quality Institute of Brussels and the World Beer Championships. A bright and refreshing lager, Daura is one of the most clean tasting and satisfying gluten-free brews I’ve tasted.

Omission Series from Widmer Brothers in Portland, Oregon – the Omission ales are our most popular “gluten-free” brews despite the fact they are not labeled as such. Made with barley, hops, water, and yeast; they taste like a traditional beer. (Try a blind taste test and see if you can tell the difference!) After brewing, Widmer Bros. uses a proprietary process to reduce the beer’s gluten to extremely low levels, and each batch of Omission is tested by an independent lab using the R5 Competitive ELISA test to ensure each batch contains gluten levels well below the FDA’s new “gluten free” standard of 20 parts per million. Go the Omission website and enter the date code stamped on your bottle to discover the test results from that particular batch of beer. Read more Skagit Brew Corner: Going Gluten-Free …

NEW! Chia Pods: Superfoods on the Go

chiamangopodCheck out a new product in our cold drink case: Chia Pods made from simple superfood ingredients: chia seed, coconut milk, and real fruit.

A quick and easy breakfast, snack, or dessert, these tasty and portable pods are available in Mango, Banana, Blueberry, and Vanilla Cinnamon flavors. Chia Pods are healthy snacks and loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. They’re also vegan, non-GMO, gluten- and dairy-free. Chia Pods contain no added sugar, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.

Chia Pods are an especially great pudding substitute, with their creamy, fruity flavor, and silky, satisfying texture. These pods deliver 100% of your daily Omega 3 fatty acids and 25% of recommended daily fiber. Chia is a great source of vegan protein, as it contains all eight essential amino acids. Plus the Chia Pod lid, cup and spoon are 100% recyclable and made from 30% recycled material. Cool!

For over a decade, The Chia Co. has been the world’s largest producer of high quality chia seed. They grow sustainable chia seed on their Australian farms located 15 degrees from the equator, the perfect latitude required to provide the ideal amount of sunlight to grow chia rich in omega-3 oils. All chia seeds produced by The Chia Co are sustainably grown, guaranteed 100% chemical free, certified non-GMO, and can be traced back directly to paddock on which it was grown. Learn the details on their sustainable farming methods here.

Chia is an ancient food, derived from the desert plant Salvia hispanica. Its seeds offer the highest combined plant source of omega-3, fiber, and protein, alongside a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  For at least 3,500 years, chia has been documented a food source for the ancient Aztecs and Mayans peoples.