Tillamook Cheese: Goodness from Oregon Dairy Farms
About Tillamook Cheese
Not too far from the wind-swept, rain-drenched shores of the Oregon Coast is a small town known for one thing: cheese. In Tillamook, Oregon, the community literally defines itself by its cheesemaking factory. In fact, the high school mascot is the "cheesemaker." (can you imagine.... "Go Cheesemakers!")
I first discovered Tillamook Cheese when I moved to Oregon for law school. One day, as we were driving to the Oregon Coast, we decided on a whim to tour the cheese making factory in the small coastal town. Quite literally, I've never looked back - no other cheddar (or jack or mozzeralla) has matched the creamy deliciousness of my favorite, Tillamook Cheese.
Cheesemaking is serious business in Tillamook (pronounced Till-a-muk). For over 100 years, Tillamook Cheese (and butter, yogurt, sour cream and ice cream) has been a farmer-owned and operated dairy cooperative. The Tillamook County Creamery Association now includes all of the small, independent cheese plants in Tillamook County, Oregon and is made up of about 110 dairy families.
For those of you that are concerned about where the milk comes to produce high-quality cheese, rest assured that at Tillamook, its cows are artificial hormone-free. Similarly, it uses all-natural ingredients to flavor its delicious yogurts. No high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors! Having enjoyed their cheeses for years, I can tell you, they definitely have some happy cows here in Oregon!
Tillamook ages its cheeses using old-fashioned methods and takes great pride in delivering tasty cheese to its customers. The cheese is carefully stored in a temperature-controlled environment to assure that it will taste and feel exactly like the Tillamook Cheese you are anticipating!
Tour of the Tillamook Cheese Factory
Tillmook Cheese Goodness is a Click Away
Incorporating Tillamook Cheese in your Recipes
The high quality of Tillamook Cheese makes it a desired ingredient in your cooking (or snacking). With several varieties of cheddar cheese, aged differently to produce mild, medium or sharp cheddar, you can decide how much "punch" to put in your sauces, or to stir into pastas. Keep in mind that a sharp cheddar can stand up well to roast beef on a sandwich, but you might want to choose a milder pepper jack cheese for your turkey-based lunch.
The Tillamook Cheese website includes specially selected recipes that allow its cheese to shine and enhance the taste of your meal. Tillamook Enchiladas uses its Monterey Jack cheese - a mild white cheese that melts over the top of the enchiladas. You might also enjoy homemade macaroni and cheese, with Tillamook's medium cheddar cheese the top ingredient.
Keep in mind that the high protein content of cheese can result in toughening at high temperatures. Add shredded cheese slowly to sauces, over medium heat. And when shredding your cheese, it works best at temperatures just above freezing!
If you want to enjoy cheese on a sandwich or crackers, serve at room temperature. The rich, natural flavors are showcased best that way.
Store your Tillamook Cheese in the refrigerator, near the back where it is coldest. It can be frozen, but that's not recommended as it could change the taste and texture of the cheese.
Where Can I Buy Tillamook Cheese?
I'm a cheese lover, and I've tasted some pretty delicious samples over the years. That is perhaps the best part of going to a Tillamook Cheese factory tour! Its fun, educational and you can try bits of cheese from Cheddar to Pepper Jack, and even more interesting varieties like Garlic White Cheddar (yum!)
If you'd like to take a tour, take Highway 101 along the west coast of the United States. The facility is open 7 days a week, starting at 8:00 a.m. - except on Thanksgiving and Christmas! The tour is self-guided and includes lots of fun facts about Tillamook Cheese and cheese making in general.
Even if you can't come to Oregon, you can order Tillamook Cheese straight from the website. Major retailers like Amazon.com also carry the products (check to the right). According to the website:
Tillamook cheese can be found throughout the United States. Tillamook butter can be found throughout the Western United States. Tillamook ice cream, yogurt and sour cream are available at most stores in Oregon, Washington and Northern California.
You can also find restaurants that use Tillamook Cheese in their meal preparations by visiting the website.
Tillamook Cheese makes a great hostess or holiday gift too. There are pre-packaged arrangements with a variety of cheese, crackers and meats to enjoy. They'll give Hickory Farms a run for its money any day!
Where is the Tillamook Cheese Factory in Oregon?
Nutrition Facts for Tillamook Cheese
Like other similar cheeses, Tillamook Cheese is high in protein, calcium and Vitamin D. It can be part of a healthy diet, provided you keep in mind appropriate portion sizes (trust me, its easy to get carried away!) Because of its low lactose content, some people with lactose intolerance are able to enjoy these harder cheese without difficulty.
Despite its fat content, cheese can be used to help in weight management programs, too. The combination of protein and fat can leave you satiated longer and less likely to reach for the bag of chips. A few squares of Tillamook Cheese and some wheat crackers are far tastier than greasy potato chips - trust me!
In general, cheese has approximately 100 calories per 1 oz. serving. Fat content varies, but you probably won't need to eat too much Tillamook Cheese in one sitting because its so rich and satisfying.
There are a number of helpful links that can guide you in incorporating cheese into a healthy diet, just check them out to the right!
Real Cheese from Real Cows in Tillamook Oregon
Tillamook Oregon - Happy Cows and Tasty Cheese
Next time you're in bucolic Oregon, let me know! The cows don't mind the rain, which keeps the delicious green grass growing and wholesome milk flowing.... I'll meet you in Tillamook for a factory tour you won't soon forget. Its warm and dry inside - and they have cheese!
If you haven't tried Tillamook Cheese yet, look for it at your local grocery store (it is carried nationwide). Its worth the few extra cents you'll pay for high quality cheese. Or simply order some and see what these marvelous cheeses can do for your cooking.
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