Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers
Last year marked Jim's 42nd year as a cheesemaker. In 2010, he graduated from the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® program. Production supervisor at Foremost Farms in Alma Center, he's certified as a Master in Mozzarella. Johnson says it's the challenge of working with milk that changes from load to load, season to season, and managing the variables involved in making cheese that he loves most. "Taking all of the variables, putting them together and coming out with a great cheese, that's the biggest draw for me," he says.
After World War II, American GIs returned home with a taste for a delicious new food they had discovered in Italy – pizza. Today, thanks in large part to these soldiers, Mozzarella rates second only to Cheddar in popularity in the United States. Wisconsin cheesemakers produce close to 650 million pounds of this Pasta Filata cheese each year. Pasta Filata refers to the process in which the curds are dipped in hot water and then stretched and kneaded into parallel strands. This allows Mozzarella to melt and flow and gives it its characteristic stretch. Whole milk Mozzarella is richer in taste and has excellent melting properties. Part-skim Mozzarella browns faster. String cheese is similar to Mozzarella, but is formed into strips for snacking.