Just about three weeks ago the cheese making community in Maine lost one of it’s biggest contributors as Jennifer Betancourt, founder and co-owner of Silvery Moon Creamery, quietly walked away from the cheesevat that she manned for the past seven years.
Last December, Jen was featured in Liam Crotty’s updated “Freedom From Want”, based on the original from Norman Rockwell, photo that showed many of us, for the first time, some of the best of Maine’s food community.
Before Pineland Farms, now the biggest cow’s milk cheese producer in the state, there was Silvery Moon Creamery to lead the pack. Jen and her staff gained 5 American Cheese Society Awards–the Oscars of cheese for the geeks out there–and had recently published a 56 page study she conducted on aging options for cheese makers.
While she started with the basics, brie/camembert, cheddar and curds, she had recently moved on to lavender, vegetable ash(like an aged Morbier) and had even produced an aged raw milk cheese washed with Allagash beer. And then, what seemed to be overnight, it was all done.
I can sit here and speculate a million different theories or rumors as to why she left but my grandmother would remind me that it’s not my place, so I won’t. I know that Smiling Hill is suppose to be making their own cheese, though of the more mass produced variety and may or may not be doing so under the Silvery Moon label, but it won’t be the same. Luckily, though, you can still find some of the aged cheeses, that Jen had a hand in making, around at Whole Foods, Rosemont and K hortons.
Hopefully, as it’s been told to me, she won’t be keeping herself from the cheese vat for long. Here’s to hoping she decides to fill the void of a Maine produced sheep’s milk cheese.