January is Caves Month at Murray’s, and in order to understand our caves and the cheeses that come from them, you have to meet our Cavemasters! From daily cheese care (known as affinage), to coming up with new cheeses and much more, the Cavemasters are the reason Murray’s Caves are able to produce thousands of wheels of innovative, delicious cheeses each year.
Krista Jacobsen is the resident doctor of our Caves team, with a background in animal and dairy science — in fact, she chose dairy goats for her doctoral research. This experience allows her to dig into the various microbes, treatments, and variations inherent in affinage (cheese care), with extra attention spent on milk quality and type. Krista proves that working in the Caves is just as much a science as it is an art. We sat down with her to talk how she went from studying animal science to washing cheeses, her favorite types of cheese, and more.
Where are you originally from?
Short Hills, New Jersey.
How did you first get into cheese?
I was an animal scientist for a long time, specifically focusing on ruminant nutrition and management. Having grown up in a very cheese-friendly home, I wanted to apply my dairy science background to specialty American cheese.
How did you start working in the Murray’s Caves?
I started as a caves intern in April 2015 (*Editor’s Note, Murray’s has a Caves Internship Program open to any and all that apply, check out our careers page for more information). That July, at the conclusion of the internship, I was hired as Assistant Cavemaster.
What’s your favorite thing about working in the caves at Murray’s?
The caves team is very small, which enables flexible collaboration using our diverse skillsets.
What do you love about Murray’s in general?
The wide variety of cheese that we carry.
Which cave is your favorite? Why?
Probably the Washed Rind Cave. Affinage in this cave is the most varied in terms of potential treatments. Although the environment and microbes in the cave itself are critical towards young cheese maturation, the washes enable us to directly manipulate the conditions on the developing rinds.
What is your favorite Cavemaster Cheese?
Krista is a superstar, but she’s only one part of our Caves team, meet the rest of the team: