The Duncan Banner

September 16, 2013

Cheese is their thing

Comanche couple among vendors at CTHC Western Spirit Celebration

Rebeka Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — There’s nothing like creating something marvelous from accident, which is something Lee and Kim McGarr can tell you all about.

Owners and operators of KS&A Orchards, a sheep farm just south of Comanche, the couple have found multiple uses for the Grade A sheep milk their stock produces. The McGarrs conducted cheese-making demonstrations Friday and Saturday during the Western Spirit Celebration at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center.

Both have backgrounds in biology and Kim has been making milk soaps for several years.

“I left him (Lee) to watch my soap one day and it overcooked,” said Kim. “When it did, it made cheese.”

When Lee discovered what had happened, he added some cheese culture to the cooked milk and distributed the product to their neighbors. The cheese was such a hit, the McGarrs built their blue cheese facility.

Now, they make their award-winning “Tru Blu” blue cheese with USDA Grade A sheep milk. In a brochure handed out at the Western Spirit Celebration, the McGarrs explained their process.

“Our milk, past the filtration stage is chilled to 37 degrees Fahrenheit and held for a maximum of 72 hours, then pasteurized, cooled back to 93 degrees and processed for our cheese,” it said. “From there, in a nearly month-long process, it is cooled to 36 degrees Fahrenheit for aging.”

Samples of the cheese were provided at the event. Not only were the couple’s cheese products available for purchase, but also soaps, cheese boards and wine holders.

A specialty product made by Lee himself are round cheese boxes made from Eastern Red Cedar that grows on the McGarr property. Instead of glued, these boxes are wire banded together and pegged.

“You soak the box in water and the wood soaks the water up, which gives it a tight seal,” Lee explained.

“One wheel of our cheese will fit perfectly inside one box. You put the lid on and put it in your refrigerator. It keeps the cheese moist.”