All About Rush Creek Reserve

All About Rush Creek Reserve

Are you a cheese-loving trendsetter? Did you know about juustoleipa before it went mainstream? If small-batch, artisanal cheeses are your passion, allow us to introduce your new newest obsession: Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese.

This luxurious cheese is made just once a year, making it a particularly special treat. If you’re able to get your hands on a wheel, you’ll be rewarded with a smoky, woodsy, savory custard-like cheese that makes for a rind-blowing dip. Read on to dive into this seasonal specialty offering and learn how you can get your hands on a wheel during the next autumn release.

The story behind Uplands’ Rush Creek Reserve

Like many great cheeses, Rush Creek Reserve was born out of an artful blending of technical skill and innovative vision. And just in case you were wondering, Andy Hatch is the cheesemaker to address your thank you notes to for this cheese.

To him, Rush Creek Reserve was a labor of love inspired by a French cheese, Vacherin Mont d’Or. Andy learned how to craft this cult favorite as an apprentice in France, where cheesemakers make it once a year using late autumn milk. As cows switch from grazing fresh, Alpine meadows to decadent hay, their milk becomes ever richer in fat. Cheesemakers found this fat-laden milk would not harden but rather remained soft. So soft in fact, that Vacherin Mont d'Or is wrapped in spruce bark to help it keep its shape. Made only in late autumn, there is only so much of this cheese to go around. When the last of it sells in January or February, the world must wait until the autumn comes around again to savor it.

While “seasonal cheese” isn’t as much of an American trend, Andy saw the potential in bringing this technique to the great state of Wisconsin. Andy started creating Rush Creek Reserve in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he felt it was perfected enough to bring it to eager cheese lovers across the country.

Uplands only uses milk from one herd of their cattle to make Rush Creek, and it's only produced during the changing of the seasons. By only using this one herd, Uplands can completely control where and what their cows graze on. After all, great cheese starts with great milk. All this attention to detail can make this limited-edition cheese hard to get your hands on. We think it makes it even more special and delicious, too.

All about Rush Creek Reserve

How is Rush Creek Reserve made?

This unique cheese starts with fresh, raw milk. In fact, it's so fresh, it’s used on the same day it’s harvested. Uplands uses milk exclusively sourced from their own carefully selected herd of cattle. Once this milk is pumped into the cheesemaking vat, bacterial culture and rennet are added which cause the milk to separate into whey and curds. The mixture is then stirred and cut by hand giving Hatch more control over each batch and helping the texture become ultra-smooth and silky. 

Curds are pressed and set into 12 oz. molds, flipped, and drained overnight. The next day, the wheels are brined and wrapped in a band of spruce bark which has been boiled and soaked in a mix of yeast and mold that helps ripen the cheese.

Rush Creek Reserve is aged for 60 to 75 days. As it ages, cheesemakers carefully wash, brush, and flip the cheese daily until it is ready to be sold.

What makes Rush Creek Reserve so special?

Where to even start? Rush Creek Reserve is unique because it’s made in small batches seasonally, so it’s not a cheese you can pick up at the grocery store year-round. The cheese is made between September and November, and aged for 60 to 75 days. It’s very labor intensive, so it's basically the only cheese Uplands makes during that time.

By the time the last batch is being made, the first batch of Rush Creek Reserve is ready for market. (It’s almost closer to winemaking than cheese making.) In the late fall, keep an eye out at your local fromagerie to see if they source this creamy, flavorful cheese.

Every batch of Rush Creek Reserve is a little different due to the milk because its flavor varies based on the types of grass that cows graze on each year. The flavor, texture, aroma, and appearance all change year-to-year, though you’re sure to love Rush Creek Reserve either way. Cheesemaker Andy Hatch says that each year is special and that 2020's had a  particularly strong smokey and bacon-y flavor. Who knows what flavor sensations this next batch will bring?

What does Rush Creek Reserve taste like?

Rush Creek Reserve is something like an incredibly smooth, savory custard but better. Every 12 oz. wheel is wrapped in spruce bark, which gives the cheese shape as well as a subtle woodsy flavor. It’s the perfect balance of salty, savory, smoky, grassy, and milky sweet.

How should Rush Creek Reserve be served?

Most cheeses are best at room temperature, so we typically recommend removing cheeses from the fridge 1-2 hours before digging in. For Rush Creek Reserve, letting it come to room temperature is ideal, but we (and Andy Hatch) recommend gently warming it up in the oven before serving. This amplifies its beautifully creamy texture and intensifies the flavor even more.

This cheese has an edible rind, but we suggest cutting off the top rind before warming it up. Dip meat, vegetables, bread, crackers, or even fingers into its  luscious cheesiness. Andy suggests pairing Rush Creek Reserve with carbonated beverages, but nothing too sweet. Champagne, a sturdy red wine, or a hearty ale are all great drinks to pair with Rush Creek Reserve. Be sure to read our Beginner’s Guide to Cheese Pairing for all our top cheese pairing tips and even more options and ideas.

How do you buy Rush Creek Reserve?

Rush Creek Reserve is only made once a year in the fall, so set an alarm or mark your calendar or do whatever you must so you don’t miss it! You can buy directly from Uplands Cheese and have it shipped to your doorstep in two days or less. Whole Foods carries it nationally, but they typically sell out super quickly. Check now with your local cheesemonger to see if they’ll be getting a shipment.

Ready for more spectacular Wisconsin Cheese?

Looking for more award-winning Wisconsin Cheeses to try while you wait for the next Rush Creek Reserve release? Get Wisconsin’s finest cheeses and cheese gift baskets delivered right to your door with our continuously updated list of cheesemakers and retailers that allow you to order cheese online. Award-winning Wisconsin Cheese is just a click away.

Craving something else? Choose from our selection of over 400 recipes featuring Wisconsin Cheese. Don’t forget to share your creative cheesy creations with us on Facebook and Instagram.


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