Missiska cheese : promoting an exceptional milk
Breeder and now cheese producer, Caroline Pelletier truly loves animals. Her Jersey cows are her entire life and the young entrepreneur has decided that everybody should have the chance to taste their milk. With this in mind, in April 2018, she opened the Fromagerie-boutique Missiska, in the town of Bedford. There, she sells her Jersey cows’ milk, but also other byproducts such as yogurt, cheese curds, fresh and fine cheeses.
When I arrive at the Fromagerie-boutique Missiska, I’m told that Caroline is upstairs. I go up a few steps to access the laboratory which is located above the boutique and the transformation space. The owner welcomes me with her lab coat on and a net covering her hair. She is looking down on some Petri dishes. “I’m preparing my bacterial cultures, I’ll get changed and meet you outside on the terrace.”
Photo : Patrice Didier
While Caroline finishes what she was doing, her aunt, who works in the boutique space, invites me to taste some of their products. I didn’t hesitate for a second. When Caroline joins me, we go outside to a picnic table where we sit down together. It’s a nice September day and the young woman is really happy to be able to take advantage of the warm sun before going back to her cheese production tasks.
You see this entrepreneur is always busy. When she isn’t transforming milk, she’s at the farm taking care of her herd or working on marketing her products. What gives her the energy to pursue her projects? It’s her passion for Jersey cows.
Caroline was born on a farm and for as long as she can remember, she’s always worked there. “I built my herd of Jersey cows along with my dad’s herd. I’ve been raising them for twenty years now. I formed my herd from generation to generation,” explains this agronomy graduate with a concentration in animal science. “Even while I was studying away from home, I came back every weekend to take care of my cows. And, when I could, I would milk them every morning and every evening before going to school or to work. I have a thirteen-year-old cow, Vicky! She is still in gestation and produces milk! We have a fine herd of cows that really stands out from the others.”
From Milk to Cheese
Photo : Patrice Didier
Caroline thought it was a shame that her cows’ milk, “impeccable and exceptional,” would be wasted by entering Quebec’s milk transformation process. Therefore, to give it an added value and to have people taste it, she had the idea of setting up a cheese dairy.
Today, about 30% of the Missiska Farm production is sent to its same name cheese dairy.
“It’s such a special milk, it tastes like heaven. It has 5% fat; people can’t find this anywhere else,” she notes. “I’ve been drinking it with my coffee and eating my cereal in the morning with it for the past 10 years; it’s extraordinary!”
From this milk, she also wanted to create other products, like cheese. “Especially with the 22 nearby vineyards. We wanted to add a cheese dairy offer to the Route des vins,” she says. To accomplish this, this young farmer had to learn all about the process while building her business plan. She also benefitted from the expertise at the Centre d’expertise fromagère du Québec, in St-Hyacinthe, to determine which products she would develop.
Photo : Patrice Didier
“I asked them how I could give the best added value to the milk my cows produce and how I could stand out in the Quebec cheese market. In Quebec, there’s a shortage of lactic curd. Our Jersey Royal cheese was inspired by French cheeses such as the Saint-André, the Chaource or the Délice de Bourgogne. They’re triple cream cheeses, but not the Jersey Royal because our milk is rich enough to be left as such. What’s special about the Jersey Royal, is that it’s made with whole curdled lactic milk like goats’ milk. It is carefully poured by hand, There’s nothing like it in Quebec.”
Ambitious and determined, Caroline is committed to conquer the heart and stomachs of Quebec citizens with her products. She’s quite driven.
“We started big. Our goal is not to have to work on adding more space in five years to expand the business,” she confides. “We hope to manage our growth from within. We took on a lot when we started, but we’ve already started thinking about phase two. In the future, we would like to offer, Jersey veal at the boutique and offer meat products from our farm.”
This passionate Jersey cow lover certainly has a lot of ideas to give an added value to her animals and to attract other fans such as herself!