It’s full-cream ahead for Ekka dairy judging


by Samantha Townsend

A happy cow creates the best dairy products according to one of the nation’s leading dairy judges.

“You see good quality products when there is good quality milk supply due to good seasons and handling,’ dairy judge Jessica Sanderson said.

Ms Sanderson is among a team of 17 judges led by renowned international dairy judge Russell Smith. They will spend the next four days tasting their way through 500 dairy products for the Cheese and Dairy Produce Show at the Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show, which is presented by Lendlease.

Flavour, appearance, and body and texture are the three attributes judges look for. Points are lost for everything from sourness to over-salting.

“They all start with 20 points and then you detract from that, with half the points for flavour, which is the most important thing,” Ms Sanderson said, a food technologist who has been judging for seven years.


Cheese and dairy judge Jessica Sanderson. Photo by RNA

Of the 19 different classes, Ms Sanderson judged the white mould cheese category as well as shredded cheese and full-fat coffee flavoured milk.

“What we are seeing is the best end products for consumers that are all retail ready,” she said.

“The depth of flavour was outstanding this year, some of the best I’ve seen in the last three years, which is due to the quality of the milk.

“When cows are healthy and the feed is favourable then cows are happy which creates good milk.

“When the milk is good then it’s a good foundation for creating dairy products.”

For the first time, three camel milk products feature among the 335 cheese and dairy competition entries, following the addition of ‘other non-bovine milk products’ to classes previously only open to buffalo, goat and sheep milk.

The icecream, gelato and sorbet judging is the next competition to be judged on Tuesday. Some of the flavours hoping to scoop up the title of Australia’s best ice cream this year include salted caramel and macadamia; vanilla, lavender and honey; black sesame; mango and dragon fruit; blue cheese with walnut; and pumpkin pie.

The nation’s best dairy products will be crowned at an awards presentation this Friday (May 26) at the Governors Pavilion, Brisbane Showgrounds.

Last year’s Grand Champions were taken out by a dark chocolate gelato from Milani House of Gelato in Brisbane and a buffalo milk cheese produced by Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese in Victoria.

The award-winning products will also be featured at the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka), which is just 81 days away.