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Minneapolis, MN—The American Cheese Society (ACS) will bring back its annual Cheese Judging & Competition in 2022, featuring a new category and more specific sub-categories.

For the first time, the ACS cheese contest will take place separately from its annual conference.

Canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, the contest will be held here May 19-20, 2022, at the Huntington Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis campus.

Winners will be announced at the 39th ACS Annual Conference July 20-23, 2022, in Portland, OR.

Over the two-year hiatus, members of the ACS Judging & Competition Committee spent considerable time working on the contest and tweaking certain elements, said committee member John Greeley.

“We added Stracchino and Crescenza as separate cheeses in the fresh category,” he said. “This is important because the definitions of both were researched by cheese makers who actually enter these categories.”

The committee also created a separate category for sweet Cheddars, because “the cultures being used now generate a certain profile Cheddar makers want to be recognized for,” Greeley said.

Sweet Cheddar is commonly made by including Lb. helveticus adjunct culture, according contest guidelines.

We also added another category qualifier in the American Originals recipe, he continued. We had to really expand that because are making some really amazing cheese.

“We’re looking forward to maybe dividing up more of the International Styles to reflect the fact that people are using two different cultures to create a hybrid from two European Styles like Gouda and Manchego; Parmesan and Havarti; things like that are coming through,” Greeley said.

Dividing these styles has actually expanded the category, he continued, even though we’re making American Style cheeses using old formulas from Europe.

“Those are some of the category changes we can look forward to this year and ongoing competitions,” he said.

Based on production trends and feedback from cheese makers, ACS has also added a new category for cheeses wrapped in bark, leaves or grass, including Mont D’Or, Bannon and Robiola style cheese.

Contestants must be ACS members, and licensed cheese makers or cultured dairy product manufacturers. Affineurs – individuals or entities that operate within a licensed facility and procure cheese from cheese makers or cultured dairy producers are eligible to compete, along with second-level producers and cheese processors, co-packers and designers, and private label organizations.

Cheeses must be for sale to the general public at least six months prior to the start of competition; milk the product is made from must be made in the Americas – North, Central, or South America.

Committee chair Rachel Perez noted that ACS has installed new, easier to use Award Force software for the contest.

“It’s also important to know our categories are not necessarily finite,” Perez said. “Certain cheeses fall under multiple categories, and that’s perfectly fine.”

“The caveat with that is, smoked cheeses will always be in the Smoked category, and flavored cheeses will always be in the Flavored category,” Perez continued.

Entry Deadline Is January 16

The early registration deadline is Dec. 17, 2021. Cost after Dec. 17 through Jan. 16, 2022 is $100 per entry. No entries will be accepted after Jan. 16.

Judging Committee member David Lockwood said contest judges have been selected.

For complete details and to enter online, visit www.cheesesociety.org.

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