This cheese was just named one of the best in the entire country, and it comes from a cave right here in Minnesota. Wait, what?

I'll confess right now that I'm a big-time cheese-lover. I'm guessing it's because I was born and raised in Wisconsin-- America's Dairyland, mind you-- but I LOVE me some cheese. Doesn't matter what kind, I love it-- and the more the better.

And apparently, I'm not alone. A recent survey said that U.S. per capita cheese consumption reached an all-time high in 2022 at nearly 42 pounds per person. That's up a half-pound per person from the previous year, according to data from the USDA’s Economic Research Service. 

So when I read about another cheese that was awarded a top-shelf, national honor from here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I was intrigued. And it turns out, this cheese is just one of many that come from a cave in a small town in southern Minnesota. Well, they're *aged* in a cave, that is-- they're actually made in a state-of-the-art plant.

SEE ALSO: Minnesota City Now Has Most Mispronounced Name in the U.S. 

If you've never heard of this mysterious Minnesota cave, it's a part of Prairie Farms' Cave of Faribault Cheese Plant in Faribault, Minnesota (a little under an hour south of the Twin Cities, just off I-35.) And it's one of the most unique cave-aged cheese operations in the world.

The Caves of Faribault have a history that dates way back to the late 1800s, and were first constructed to help brew beer (another one of my favorite things!):

Located on a tall sandstone bluff overlooking the Straight River in the small town of Faribault, The Caves of Faribault natural sandstone caves were carved in the 1850s into the St. Peter’s sandstone that formed in the last glacial age. This sandstone allows water to travel both horizontally and vertically and has a natural capacity for absorbing ammonia, making it ideal for affinage — the ancient art of maturing and aging cheese.

And now, some brand-new cheeses that have been aged in those way-cool caves have just been called the best in the U.S. According to results from the 2023 National Milk Producers Federation Cheese and Yogurt Contest, the Caves of Faribault took home four national awards at its most recent contest.

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A cheese of theirs called 44° North Natural Rind Swiss won the Chairman's Award as well as a first-place award. Meanwhile, Caves of Faribault’s Pasteurized Blue Cheese won the contest’s Best Italian Award and first place in the Hard and Mold Ripened Italian category, a release on their website noted.

So, from this Wisconsinite cheesehead, a big shout-out to some award-winning Minnesota cheese! And speaking of Wisconsinites, did you know there are certain things every person from the Dairy State thinks about Minnesota? Keep scrolling to see what they are...

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10 Things Every Person From Wisconsin Thinks About Minnesota

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