Last Saturday I drove out to Cabot, Vermont to see the Cabot Creamery. It has been many years since I’ve been there…33 to be exact. The last time I went to Cabot was in 1981 when my then-boyfriend had come to Vermont to meet my family. We bought an old fashioned wheel of special Cabot cheddar cheese to take back to California, and shared it on the day we announced our engagement to his family.
If you are ever in central Vermont, plan to take the beautiful drive through the greenest fields and forests that you’ll ever see. Enjoy the old farmsteads with manicured lawns, magnificent flower gardens, picturesque villages, forests, streams…and the bluish purple mountains that layer themselves in the changing light from early morning to late evening. Drive up into the hillside village of Cabot, Vermont to find the historic creamery that has grown to become one of the most recognized brands of dairy products in the country. What began as a small cooperative of 94 independent farm families over 90 years ago is still owned cooperatively by farm families throughout the Northeast, preserving the highest standards of quality for dairy products such as butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, and of course, their award-winning cheeses.
Cabot Creamery looks pretty much the same as it did the last time I was there, except for the new Visitor’s Center and the beautiful red and white paint! As you can see, the place wasn’t crowded for a Saturday afternoon in summertime…perfect for learning about cheese-making and for tasting the different cheeses that are made here!
While you wait for the next tour, take a photo of yourself …ever wondered what you might look like as a black and white cow?
Cabot is one of the most social-media friendly companies, so it should come as no surprise to find out that the Cabot Cow has her own hashtag…you can upload your photo and become one of a large herd of Cabot Cows visitors! What a fun idea!
Step inside for some fun shopping, free samples, and a wonderful tour of the creamery. You can choose from a cute Cabot button or a wrist band when you pay $2 for the guided tour…children under 12 are free!
The tour begins in a small theater, where antique cheese cutting devises are displayed. There is also a window to view the pasteurization room, as well as many awards and recognition plaques.
The movie is a brand new documentary film introduced just in the last month (2013) that tells the history of Cabot Creamery and introduces us to several of the wonderful farm families whose cows provide the milk that is made into our favorite Cabot products. As we were taken into the barns, introduced to the cows by name, and watched the fascinating but difficult life of the dairy farmer, we were touched by the pride and satisfaction with which the owners of the farms persevered.
My own father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were Vermont dairy farmers, but my dad chose to follow a career in civil engineering after I was born. There were several dairy farms in our area, so we grew up helping in the neighbors’ barn or with haying in the summertime. Still, it wasn’t the same as being responsible for milking cows twice a day, 365 days a year!
Cabot is now making Whey Protein Dietary Supplement, a high quality protein that can be added to smoothies and other healthy recipes. Whey is a bi-product of the cheese-making process and Cabot whey comes directly from the Cabot creamery, ensuring the highest quality. There is even a special website just for Cabot Whey Protein with recipes and ideas for including whey protein in a healthy diet.
Living in California, I have been really happy to find Cabot cheeses in nearby stores. It wasn’t always this way…we used to carry our Cabot cheese from Vermont to California in our suitcases! In the past several years I have really enjoyed the Cabot Vanilla Bean Greek yogurt whenever I visit my mother in Vermont. Sadly, I can’t find it in California, so I asked our guide if they might ever bring the creamy deliciousness that is Cabot Greek yogurt to the west coast. I expected to hear “no”. The second surprise of the day was that the Cabot Greek-Style yogurts will be coming to the west coast very soon! She even showed me the names of the stores that will be carrying Cabot yogurt in our town. I can’t wait to see all of these in California! In fact, the Cabot website has a search function for looking up the nearest outlet for any product they make!
One of my mother’s very favorite treats is a breakfast parfait made with Cabot Vanilla Bean Greek-Style yogurt, fresh berries and Uncle Sam cereal. Unlike traditional yogurts, Cabot Greek-Style yogurt has the consistency of custard, but the delicate flavor of yogurt…perfect as a dip for fresh fruit or as a yummy dessert. It’s a special treat that is healthy too!
After the movie, we walked through several hallways, passed small forklifts and employees in white suits, to the interior of the creamery where the Cabot products are made. There were large windows on both sides of the hall, where we could see the steps of the cheese-making process. They were not packaging products on the day I visited, but they were making cheese. We were able to watch as they separated the curds from the whey, and we saw the blocks of cheese coming out of the pressing machine. We stood nearby as a man pulled boxes of packed cheese out of the room, ready to be put into storage for aging. We could see into the quality control laboratory too.
As we walked back down the long hallway, peering into the windows one last time, we had a new appreciation for the making of Cabot cheese…from the high quality milk that comes from local family farms, to the amazing chemical processes that allow the delicate flavors and textures to develop into exquisite cheese.
Everyone was eager to sample the various flavors of cheese by the end of the tour, and we weren’t disappointed! Look at that assortment!
If you ever wanted to taste every flavor that Cabot makes, now was the time to do it! Just take a toothpick and help yourself!
Our guide had told us about a really special cheddar cheese that Cabot makes called Cabot Artisan Reserve, but it is sold only in very limited quantities. Aged for 3 years, the Cabot Artisan Reserve cheddar cheese was my favorite of the day, so I bought one to take home to The Farmer.
Those who have lived in the northeast are familiar with all the Cabot dairy products. Now that Cabot has expanded to New York and other New England states, there are even more tasty dips, butters, whipped cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese and sour cream to try. I think most Vermonters are reminded of home when we see Cabot products.
When I was ready to go back to my car, it was raining really hard outside! The rain cooled things off, and the parking lot look as if the sanitizing crew had washed it down, but we had been told that the sanitizing is done at night. Cabot Creamery is a busy place, operating 7 days a week. If you can’t make it to the factory, stop in at the Cabot Annex Store in Waterbury-Stowe, or the Cabot Quechee Store.
More Mimi Avocado posts with Cabot Creamery: