Monday, April 9, 2012

What Makes Golden Glen Creamery So Special?

Visit Olympic Cellars, April 14-15 for NW Wine and Cheese Event
and sample a variety of Golden Glen's farmstead cheeses.

For Starters, it comes from a local herd of cows just a moo away, grazing in the picturesque Skagit Valley.

Golden Glen Creamery is a family-owned operation on the Vic Jensen & Sons farmstead, all farmed sustainably using many organic principles. The farm has been in operation for well over 40 years and has survived low milk prices, high feed and fuel prices, devastating snowstorms, and floods — held together by the family’s will and passion for farming.

Vic and Judy Jensen come from a long line of dairy farmers and now are sharing the legacy with their children and grandchildren. Today, there are three generations of Jensen family members living on the farm.

The Jensens’ milk cows are mostly Holstein, but include Guernsey, too. Vic and Judy Jensen originally started the dairy with Guernseys only but, by the 1980s, banks typically wouldn’t loan to a dairy farmer that didn’t keep Holsteins (known for their productivity). The Jensens, however, have kept Guernseys in the mix because of the additional cream they give and also for their more docile, friendlier nature.

The herd is a closed-herd, meaning all the milk cows are born and raised on the farm with none brought in from the outside — a good safeguard against disease. The cows are pastured during the spring, summer and early fall, then during the winter they’re housed in an open-air barn to help reduce the number of foot problems that occur with saturated ground.

Along with pasturing, Doug Jensen supplements the herd’s diet with homegrown hay, corn and grass silage, as well as grain and alfalfa from eastern Washington.

The farm does not use rBST (genetically engineered growth hormones) to produce its milk and selectively and carefully administers antibiotics only to those cows that otherwise would die from an easily treated infection or illness; Brandy Jensen believes it’s the humane thing to do.

If long life is an indicator of health, the Jensen cows have a story to tell; the average American cow may live to be about 6 years old while some of the Jensen’s cows have lived to 16! Brandy credits the way they treat their cows and the wholesome environment for their long lives.

In 2006, the Creamery started bottling its own milk in old-fashioned, glass bottles, continuing its all-natural approach. The glass can be reused up to 40 times, reducing toxic emissions from manufacturing plastic jugs, and then can be recycled — the “3R” concept in action. The Jensens feel the glass also gives the milk a more natural, nostalgic, appealing look and keeps its original flavor alive without any leaching from plastic jugs.

Golden Glen also uses a gentler method of pasteurizing called slow batch pasteurizing. This creamery understands that milk “bruises” just like fruit the more it’s handled, so they handle it as little as possible to keep its fresh flavor.

In keeping with the all-natural, less-handled approach, the Jensen family does not homogenize its milk and instead allows the cream to rise, which is why it is called “cream top.”

Golden Glen also does not fortify its milk, and even the chocolate milk and seasonal egg nog are made from traditional, home recipes — no artificial flavors, coloring, preservatives, stabilizers or emulsifiers.

Golden Glen Creamery and the Jensen family provide to the public only what they’d put on the table for their own families: healthy, all-natural dairy products that taste and look the way they should, from their family to yours. Naturally!

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