Faribault, Minnesota has one of the best-kept secrets in the state: The Cheese Caves. The first cave was carved into the naturally occurring sandstone thanks to German immigrants in the 1850s. Brothers Ernst & Gottfried Fleckenstein founded a brewery and used the caves for brewing and storing beer. Their brewery Fleckenstein Brewing operated in the caves until Prohibition.
The caves were quiet until 1936 when a cheese maker came to town. Expanding the largest cave and carving additional ones, it was there that the AmaBlu® blue cheese recipe was created by Felix Frederiksen. According to Caves of Faribault, it was the first blue cheese made in America. Frederiksen’s company eventually came to be known as Treasure Cave, Inc.
In the 1990s, the caves were purchased and cheese production moved to a conventional facility in another state, but in 2001, the Faribault Dairy Company (now the Caves of Faribault®) was founded to bring them back to life. And thank goodness they did. Almost eighty years after that first batch of blue cheese was made by Felix Frederiksen, the caves are back in business. The internationally acclaimed cheese is still made by hand in traditional open vats following Frederiksen’s original recipe. Using only Grade A milk, traditional starter culture, salt and Penicillium rocquefortii, it is hand salted, cured and aged in the caves.
Cheeses and specialty items are now sold at their gourmet artisan cheese shop, The Cheese Cave. A casual cafe is located at the back of the shop and guests can relax over a glass of wine or have a delicious lunch featuring the Cheese Cave cheeses like these sandwiches:
Cave tours are not allowed in person but they can be enjoyed through the internet:
The next time you’re in Minnesota, save room for some cheese and head to Faribault. Can’t get there in person? Not a problem, they have an online shop.