Rush Creek Reserve is a star in the cheese world, a deliciously creamy (and highly contested) cheese whose name is known by anyone and everyone who keeps up on great food and food legislation in the United States. This cheese, made by Uplands Cheese Company in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, became a superstar because of its decadently creative flavor profile. Rush Creek Reserve is made only of the winter milk from cows at Uplands Dairy. The difference between summer and winter milk is an important distinction because the milk’s flavor changes significantly as the cows diet shifts from grass, in the summer, to hay, in the winter. The summer milk at Uplands is used in Pleasant Ridge Reserve, giving that cheese a more floral flavor, while Rush Creek Reserve has the more dense, rich flavor that often comes with winter milk cheeses.
Rush Creek Reserve is a young, raw milk cheese wrapped in spruce bark, giving the cheese a slightly woody flavor. You eat each ¾ pound wheel of Rush Creek by prying off the top of the wheel so you can dig into the gooey center with a knife (or spoon…). The paste has a strongly earthy, woody, and almost meaty flavor with a slightly sweet note. The luscious cheese is incredible smeared on a piece of crusty baguette, paired with dried figs and walnuts, or simply eaten alone.
In the last year, however, Rush Creek Reserve has garnered a different type of attention because of the stand made by its producer, Andy Hatch. Due to unclear FDA regulations on the legality of aging soft raw milk cheeses on wooden boards, Andy Hatch decided to stop making Rush Creek Reserve in 2014, a huge blow to the cheese world. His worry was that, with FDA regulations being so shifty and unsure, Rush Creek could end up being illegal to sell after it was produced, losing a lot of money for Uplands Cheese. Andy Hatch’s stand highlighted the importance of clear FDA regulations for small cheese producers, while also beginning a more public conversation on the importance of FDA support of small cheese production in the United States.
Although we went one year without Rush Creek Reserve, it all paid off when the FDA responded by making regulations much more clear. This year the delectable Rush Creek Reserve is once again being made and is available to the public–not to worry, you didn’t miss out! You can order directly from the producer, or from a number of cheese stores, but be sure to order in advance; most wheels are being sold before they even arrive at distributors, so don’t expect to be able to walk into your local cheese store and find one!