Home' Smart Farmer : Dec 2014 - Jan 2015 Contents Smart dairy
December 2014/January 2015
Published by Fairfax Agricultural Media
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Saul delights in raw blue
By ELIZABETH ANDERSON
MASTER cheesemaker Saul Sullivan
was told creating a raw milk blue
cheese in Australia was impossible --
just what he needed to make it happen.
After more than two years of research,
his Udder Delights enterprise at Hahndorf
launched King Saul last month.
"I've always believed we've made really
good cheese but nothing that really sets us
apart, nothing that could benchmark us
against the best of the world," Mr Sullivan
"I wanted to do for Udder Delights what
Grange did for Penfolds."
Tied in with his search for something dis-
tinct was a fascination with raw blue cheese
which until now had not been approved in
Australia. Mr Sullivan said the only other raw
blue cheese available in the country was a
"I was told it couldn't be done, and that's
what made me determined," he said.
In his research into raw cheeses, he discov-
ered that many of France's top food and wine
regions were home to the non-pathogenic
bacteria Hafnia Alvei.
Mr Sullivan described them as being "like a
sponge", and living in grass, flowers, streams,
air and earth.
"It can't live in pollution or anything
unclean as that will kill the bacteria," he said.
"When the cow ingests this they soak up all
the flavours of the world around it."
He found out that the bacteria was also
present in parts of Australia, including a dairy
in the Adelaide Hills which Udder Delights
has been dealing with.
He began experimenting with techniques
and over a long period of time, developed
what he called his "trade secrets".
Mr Sullivan said conventional pasteuri-
sation would have killed the bacteria, so
the cheese making process needed to be
"We had to get a one-off license and special
approval to start the research and develop-
ment of the project with no idea or guarantee
Udder Delights trials pay off
Dairy Authority approves project
Will make 250 wheels each year
we would get approval for public sale," he said.
"I have given hundreds of hours to the
project -- it was a labour of love."
The hard work paid off -- Udder Delights
now has a license from the Dairy Authority of
SA to make 250 500-gram wheels of King Saul
each year. Each wheel is priced at $150, a price
he said was reflective of the hours of work.
King Saul is part of the Royal range of raw
cheese to be released each year.
During the two-year trial, Mr Sullivan
discovered something else about the living
bacteria within the cheese -- it changed the
taste profile of the cheese each month, making
it more intense over time. He likened the
process to a bottle of fine wine maturing.
"It's beautiful for eating right now but it is
definitely made for cellaring in the fridge for
up to three years," he said.
Mr Sullivan has been overwhelmed by the
response to his product and estimates they
have already sold about half of the year's
He said an exciting part of the project was
the discovery of the potential of the Hafnia
Alvei bacteria in farming.
"I think in 10 years, that is going to be big,"
Mr Sullivan said.
Udder Delights is a medium-scale artisan
cheese business with an annual turnover of
about $5 million. It processes 50,000 litres of
milk each week, sourced from within SA, and
operates from its cheese factory in Lobethal
and cheese cellar in Hahndorf.
• Need to know more?
When researching raw blue cheese, master cheesemaker Saul Sullivan discovered that cows
ingesting non-pathogenic bacteria Hafnia Alvei "soaked up the flavours of the environment around
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