Our history and heritage are full of food and dishes that have shaped our cultural identity. I’m thinking of poutine, tourtière, maple syrup, beaver tails and of course cheddar cheese! In the Prescott and Russell region, we are lucky to have a cheese factory and even a summer festival to celebrate this culinary specialty! To mark the 24th edition of the St-Albert Curd Festival, which will take place from August 15 to 19, I am offering you 24 cheesy facts about... well... cheddar cheese (a St-Albert cheese factory specialty), the factory and the Curd Festival.
1 - Founded on January 8, 1894, the St-Albert Cheese Factory is one of the first cooperatives in Canada.
2 - To make the cheese, about 80,000 litres of milk are delivered daily to the cheese factory! That’s about 28 million litres a year!!
3 - There are approximately 14 steps for the production between the delivery of milk, to the sale (15 if we count the eating part!). This process can last between 5 and 7 hours, AND can be observed at the cheese factory!
4 - While you’re at the factory, why not go by the shop to buy one (or more) of their dozen different cheeses, including their award-winning cheddar and their famous curds!
5 - The cheese factory restaurant offers a menu highlighting their cheeses including a good traditional poutine. Did you know they offer 11 different gourmet poutines? There is something for every taste!
6 - Do you know the name of the beloved cow that can be seen on the cheese factory logo and that is the festival’s icon? Her name is Albertine!
7 - The Curd Festival first began in 1994 to mark the centenary of the cooperative. It has since become a must to visit in the region during the summer!
8 - In the 2018 Prescott-Russell Tourism Discovery Guide, you will find a coupon for an exclusive offer at the Curd Festival! The Guide is available at local producers: Microbrasserie Cassel Brewery, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, Étienne Brûlé Microbrewery, Oasis Mini Golf and Practice Field, Vergers Villeneuve & Blueberry Farm. Use your coupons while you’re there to pick up your guide!
9 - At the 2013 Curd Festival, The Nation Municipality broke a Guinness World Record: 111 antique mills were active at the same time!
10 - Cheese is always well paired with wine, but which goes well with fresh cheddar or curds? A Sauvignon Blanc or a Black Gamay! This page offers several other suggestions, but you have to try it for yourself! That’s why there will be a wine and cheese at the Festival on Saturday, August 18.
11 - For beer lovers, mild cheddar is also well paired with an IPA beer.
12 - A cheddar cheese can be aged up to 16 months. The older it is, the stronger it will be.
13 - Cheddar is native to the Cheddar village in Somerset County, England.
14 - Cheddar is believed to have existed since the 12th century.
15 - According to legend, cheddar cheese was discovered by accident. More than 800 years ago, a milkmaid would have left a pail of milk in a cave at Cheddar Gorge and returned to discover that the milk had become a new tasty substance!
16 - Since cheddar is naturally white, a natural dye called annatto makes orange cheese. It does not affect the taste of the cheese.
17 - Why would you dye cheese orange? It is an old practice to imitate the colour of high quality milk that came from grass-fed Jersey and Guernsey cows. Due to a high level of carotene in the grass, the milk, and thus the cheese, had a more orange complexion. The colour indicated better quality cheddar, so the cheese producers dyed their cheese to pretend it was of superior quality.
18 - Although cow’s milk is used more often in production, cheddar cheese can also be made from sheep’s milk or goat’s milk.
19 - Cheddar is the most popular type of cheese in the world and the most studied in scientific publications.
20 - During the mid-19th century, Canadian cheddar cheese was our largest export and was even exported to England. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 1242 cheese factories in Ontario only!
21 - It was believed that the arrival of the big American companies like Kraft would be the cause of the closure of most of the cheese factories. Itis important to note that Kraft founder James L. Kraft grew up on a dairy farm in Ontario before moving to Chicago!
22 - Did you know that famous surrealist painter Salvador Dalí found his inspiration for one of his most recognizable painting from cheese? Cheese has always inspired many visual artists! Do you know Sarah Kaufmann and her cheese sculptures? Like the Festival, she also holds a Guinness World Record!
23 - Canadian cheddar soup is a must-have on the menu at the Canadian Pavilion in Epcot Park at Walt Disney World. We could say that it is a stereotype, but we can’t deny how much we love our cheddar!
24 - Finally, we all know the best poutines are made with none other than our very own curds from St-Albert If you don’t believe me, I urge you to taste it for yourself. You won’t be disappointed! !
Are you finding all these cheesy facts mouth-watering? If so, we’ll be seeing you at the Curd Festival in St-Albert. Don’t forget to try their free curds!!