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Cheddar Cheese Story

The History of Cheddar Cheese at the Fly Creek Cider Mill

Fly Creek Cider Mill’s Extra-Sharp, Mill-Aged New York State Cheddar – The Story

The tradition of cheese at the Fly Creek Cider Mill started long before present-day founder Charlie Michaels ordered his first wheel.    

The Michaels Family were long-time Main Street Merchants in near-by Cooperstown.  Starting around 1865 Nehemiah Michaels established the Washington Market purchasing the old Otsego County Sheriff Office and moving it to a vacant lot at 95 Main Street.  The store was mostly a meat market but also sold cheddar cheese cut from the wheel and wrapped in white butcher paper and tied with a string.

Nehemiah’s son purchased the lot next door and built a new Michaels Market which the next two generations continued operation as an IGA until 1976.   Throughout the years extra-sharp cheddar cheese also known as “store cheese” was a stable at the store continuing under Nehemiah’s Son, Howard P “Hi” Michaels.

Hi’s son Charlie did not want to be a Main Street grocer and purchased the Fly Creek Cider Mill continuing the Michaels tradition of offering New York State Cheddar.  Charlie took the tradition one step further and built an aging rack in a cool area under the press allowing him the ability to add age which customers came to enjoy and expect.  

Today the Mill still purchases New York State Cheese and ages it on-site in a temperature controlled facility.  “We continue to purchase from the McCadam Cheese Company, something the Michaels have been doing for six generations,” says Bill Michaels, co-owner of the Mill.  “We purchase “Summer Cheese” made with milk from cows that are out on pasture because it tastes and ages better than other seasons.”  

To develop the Extra-Sharp flavor profile now preferred by customers the aging process takes three years which means the aging facility generally holds 12 – 15 tons at a time.   Forty-pound blocks are cut down to random weight pieces and hand wrapped in plastic then covered in white butcher paper.  “We continue the process of white-wrapping because it just looks right to me.  It just wouldn’t be Michaels’ cheese without it,” says Bill.  

The Mill now also smokes the cheddar on-site with orchard trimmings providing a flavorful Applewood, smoked, Extra-Sharp, Mill-Aged Cheddar.

Tips to enjoying the Mill’s Cheese:
1. For best flavor always serve at room temperature
2. Re-wrap after every opening
3. If mold develops simply remove and continue to enjoy
4. The flavor “crunchies” in the cheese are calcium lactate crystals and a sign of well-aged cheese
5. If your cheese “weeps” at room temperature or arrives with liquid this is the process known as “syneresis.”   Proteins in the cheese release moisture as they age and allows the cheese to reach its next stage of maturity.  Simply wipe off any excessive moisture, wrap the cheese in fresh plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator.

What our visitors are saying

“I love coming to your store each time I am in Cooperstown. I have been bringing a team to play at the Dreams Park for over 15 years. My eldest son won it the second year the park was open. My youngest son also played at the park, he is now 27 yrs old. Each year I bring a new team and this Never gets old. Fly Creek Cider Mill is one of our Must go too! I tell my parents it's loveliest place for both adults and kids.”

-Liesel Campbell

“I am from California and recently visited your establishment. I cannot give you enough praise for the awesome experience, cordial employees and all-around beauty of your operation both inside and out. I just made some of your muffins from the mix I purchased-delicious.”

-Chrissie Annotti

“"...but the Apple Cider itself, really was the best! In CT we have several well known cider farms but they really do not compare to the Fly Creek Cider! Fly Creek has no sediment on the bottom, just a fresh clean apple taste. (It even freezes very well without compromising the taste.) Will be back before Thanksgiving to pick up more cider... and pie! Great tasting apple pie without the overkill of nutmeg, cinnamon, or sugar like other places."”

-TripAdvisor Reviewer
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