The Oak Park Farmers’ Market added several new vendors this year, and last weekend we stopped by one of those newcomers, J2K Capraio cheese stand. Owner/cheesemaker/monger Josiah (Joe) Klinedinst was out in front of his the stand, talking cheese.
Josiah and his wife, Jody, along with their children, care for their goats and cows in Walkerton, Indiana. Their farm has been certified by Animal Welfare Approved, an organization committed to “The basic premise… that animals must be able to behave naturally and be in a state of physical and psychological well-being.”
Well that all sounds nice. How’s the cheese?
I purchased a small chunk of blue goat cheese, and it was fantastic: relatively mild for a blue cheese, but clearly expressing distinctive blue cheese funk, so creamy, it’s spreadable. When I select a blue, I usually go for a piece that’s riddled with azure mold; the blue cheese at J2K looked like a star map, with billions and billions of little mold stars in the cheesy firmament. As Jody explained, “The blue cheese wheels are inoculated with penicillium roqueforti, a blue mold. During aging, wheels [of cheese] will be ‘needled’ or pierced with a rod to allow the introduction of oxygen for mold growth. If you look closely at the wheels, you’ll see the little holes!”
Years ago, the now-shuttered Marion Street Cheese Market was briefly represented at the Oak Park Farmers’ Market. There were problems, which as I recall had to do, at least in part, with the fact that the MSCM sourced its cheese from all over the world, and as it was not produced locally, their cheese was deemed unsuitable for a farmers’ market designed to showcase local produce. J2K Capraio goat cheese is a “farmstead cheese,” which means it’s made with milk from goats who live on the same Indiana farm where the cheese is made and the Klinedinst family makes their home.
We’re very glad this new cheese producer has a place at the Oak Park Farmers’ Market, and we’re interested in trying some of their other cheeses, which include fresh, aged and feta cheese. I asked Jody about these other cheeses, and she told us that she is especially “proud of our marinated feta, which just placed in the top ten in its category at the United States Champion Cheese Competition, the largest competition in our country.”
J2K Capraio is building on their success with some big expansion plans. “Within the next couple of months,” explains Jody, “we’ll start filling Indiana’s first underground cheese cave, which will hold +20,000 lbs. of cheese. The cave will add to the flavor profile of our cheeses. Our cheese already has a natural rind populated by the mold in our environment. It’s currently aged in large coolers. The cave floor and walls add to the taste and will be naturally-geothermally regulated by the earth,” which affects temperature and humidity within the cave. Very cool.