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Syracuse Farmers Market: the cheese fix

Determined shoppers spread throughout the Regional Market on the morning of May 30. Weaving around each other in the soft spring rain, many headed straight to their favorite cheese vendor.

People buy cheese every week all year long at this market on 2100 Park St. Regular customers know to find Molly and Bill Buchanen selling at the same Buttercup market stall where Molly's grandparents started the family business almost 40 years ago.

The couple also offer extra-large free-range eggs, following another family tradition. "My great-grandparents used to come to the market with chicken and eggs," Molly said.

The Buchanens, who operate a retail store on County Route 12 in Central Square, cut, crumble and package cheeses to provide the best assortment, Bill said. Tables hold cheddar, American sliced, feta, mozzarella, farmer, goat, ricotta, as well as cheeses flavored with champagne or horseradish.

After cutting 40-pound blocks of cheddar cheese, the Buchanens age them. Molly's favorite is the mature 10-year-old cheddar. Seven ounces of best-selling fresh curds go for $3.

Farmstead Cheese

Throughout the market, most of the cheese offered for sale is made in the state. Some is even made here in central New York.

The farmstead cheese at the Wake Robin stall is from a small family operation in Jordan. Shoppers have been buying the well-known plain, vanilla and maple yogurt for a few years, as well as half-gallons of cream-on-top milk. Now Meg Schader offers an aged cheddar, as well as curds, and a fresh asiago.

On Saturday she was selling a deep yellow grass-fed version named "grasiago" with a sign that read, "Our fresh Italian cheese made only during the grazing season."

Moist curds are formed before the cheese is molded and pressed; the cheddar is aged for about six weeks. All the cheeses use the milk produced by a small herd of 10 cows. "Jerseys are known for their high butter fat," Schader said.

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