curds

Jersey Strong

Jersery cows relaxing in the pasture

This week, if you drove by Cherry Grove on Route 206 you would have gotten quite an eyeful: lean with long, thin legs…big, brown eyes with thick lashes…who are these gorgeous gals hanging out on the farm?

 

Our dairy herd spent most of the week in the front pastures of the farm.  Looking out at them got me to wondering, “does everyone know how great these cows are?”  Whether you’re a community member who likes to see the cows nodding their heads at you when you’re stuck in 206 traffic or a frequent visitor to the farm, there’s probably some information about our cows that you don’t know.

 

Here at Cherry Grove Farm, the cows in our dairy herd are predominantly Jersey Cattle.  The Jersey here references Jersey, England, where in 1786 the States of Jersey began a ban on importing any cows to the island of Jersey to protect and promote the growth of a pure Jersey breed.  That Jersey breed has now become one of the most coveted dairy breeds in the world.

 

Jersey cows are often called the “Queen of Breeds” and “naturally produce the highest quality milk for human consumption,” according to Chaney’s Dairy Barn and the American Jersey Cattle Association.  More than being delicious and creamy milk (perfect for both drinking and making cheese), Jersey milk is one of the most nutritious cow’s milks available.  Jersey milk is 5.5% milk fat, 3.9% protein and 15% milk solids, which makes for ultra creamy milk.  For a comparison, Holstein cows’ milk is 3.5% fat, 3.1% protein and 12.2% solids.

 

The high protein level in Jersey milk is a big help for Sam, our cheese maker.  Protein is made up of amino acids, and those acids allow us coagulate the milk and make curds.*  The high levels of milk fat and solids in Jersey milk help make those curds extra rich and velvety.

 

At this point in the spring season, our herd is enjoying sweet grass and the last of the early spring buttercups that inspire our creamy Buttercup Brie.  If you want to try the result of their grassy gluttony, stop by to try our Buttercup Brie or fresh cheddar cheese curds– both are young, mild cheeses that aptly exhibit the high quality of Jersey milk.   You can pick up any of our cheese at the Farm Store, which is open Thursday through Monday, from 11am to 5pm.

 

And to see the beauty of the cows, you’re more than welcome to come visit the herd and their playful calves at the farm.  We have a daily public milking at 3pm, which all are welcome to attend.  In the farm’s Milking Parlour you’ll see Farm Manager Kelly Harding demonstrate how we milk our cow, process the milk and transfer into our cheese room.

 

 

* Coming soon: if you’re intrigued by this process and want more information, we’ll also be posting about how milk is transformed into cheese!

Ode To Curds

 

It’s that time of year again, yes its spring, but better then that…It’s Time For Peak Season Grass-Fed Milk to Turn into Our Squeaky Curds!!

I know this is all very exciting, but the questions lie ahead.

What Are Curds? Why Do They Squeak? And What Do I Do With Curds? This blog post should help us all rest easy at night knowing that the squeaky cheese in our fridge might be our first steps into at home cheesemaking and also a healthy way to snack, or a new warm fun meal.

 

Curds & Whey

Ode To Curds:

While working here at Cherry Grove Farm I have learned a boat load about cheese and my favorite part is sharing the knowledge I learn here from our Farm Manager/Herdsman Kelly Harding (30+ Years Of Dairy Exp.) and Samuel Kennedy Our Head Cheesemaker (CIA Graduate + 4 Years Of Making/Studying Cheese) to all of you (our wonderful fans & customers).

What Are Curds?

I like to refer to them as a fresh snacking cheese still squeaky if snacked on the first five days after being made and then after the fifth day I personally like to melt them down on pizza, in omelets, or even paying tribute to the Canadian dish Poutine.

 

Cut Curds

These cut curds are ready to be molded into cheese wheels.

The More Technical answer would be that they are the first steps in cheese making.

Once the morning milk pumps into our make room Sam begins to slowly pasteurize the milk and starts on his way of creating and following a Cheddar recipe. The milk starts to break down into two important parts (curds & whey), and this is where things get fresh! Instead of taking the curds and pressing them into cheese molds and aging these potential wheels of Cheddar, Sam instead takes the fresh curds and mills them by hand (slicing of the curd slabs into snackable pieces). Once they are all at the perfect snacking size Sam salts the curds and releases them to our customers. Voilà! A  fresh snacking cheese for all to enjoy!

Why Do They Squeak?

This is a great question to ask! My response is a bit simple. I always tell people it’s because there is still air trapped in between the curds (that’s the curds within the curds, kind of confusing) and after four or five days the air is gone and they lose their squeak (or air).

I turned to the experts in cheese writing and pulled this from Culture Magazine (winter 11):

“Curds squeak because the long protein network that forms during the process rubs against your teeth when you chew. As cheese ages, the protein breaks into shorter forms, which makes them taste good, but they lose that distinctive and oddly appealing sound.” – Article written by: Gianalis Caldwell

What Do I Do With Curds?

I snack on them until they hit day five or six and then after that I start melting/cooking with the curds like I would Mozzarella. Even better then that I use what I teach in our Mozzarella Making Class and melt them down, bind them, and then stretch them to make a fresh sweeter flavored mozzarella at home.

Come visit our farm store or one of our farmers market stands to taste them and see what different seasoned flavor curds Sam has come up with this time (they change by each batch he makes). Show your kids that cheese can be a healthy fun snack and then take them home and create a fun dish that every Canadian loves, Poutine (see our recipe below)!

Local Poutine (Made at home, enjoyed by all!)

Ingredients:

5 Medium local potatoes (found at a farmers market or home garden)

Olive oil (for pan frying)

2 Cups of our fresh Cheese Curds (found right here at Cherry Grove Farm)

1 (10 oz.) Jar of chicken, beef, or vegetarian gravy (for the best recipe make a simple brown gravy from scratch!)

Salt & Pepper (to your taste)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Wash & cut your fresh and local farmer’s market potatoes (or maybe they came from your own garden), into fries.

Bake your lightly oiled and seasoned potato fries in the oven for about 20 minutes (you can skip the frying step and just bake your fries till crisp, typically 45 minutes, turning frequently)

In a large deep set skillet heat up your (frying) olive oil to a nice medium temperature ( 300 – 325 degrees).

Place your lightly baked fries in your skillet to fry your fries to perfection (a golden brown, about 3-5 minutes).

Take your Cherry Grove Farm Cheese Curds out of the fridge and set them aside to reach room temperature.

Place your homemade fries out on a brown paper bag or paper towel to help absorb any extra oil.

In a small sauce pan start creating from scratch your favorite thanksgiving gravy (or any type of yummy gravy) – This is where you can heat up a jar of gravy at a low to medium temperature.

Cut some of the larger curds down into 1 inch cubes.

Lay your homemade fries out on a platter and top with fresh Cherry Grove Farm Cheese Curds.

Top your fries and curds with your hot gravy and serve immediately (and enjoy this fun dish with friends and family).

If you want extra melted curds place your newly created Poutine on an oven safe plate and broil for 2 minutes (be careful the plate will be hot!)

This Is Just A Few Reasons Why We Love Our Curds Plus A Recipe To Stir Your Culinary Creativity!

 


1902 - Family purchased farm

1910 - Leased land to dairy farmer

1987 - Hamill Brothers inherit farm

2002 - Started as a family business

2003 - Started a beef herd, laying hens, and pigs

2004 - Added sheep and attained organic certification of pasture land

2005 - Added dairy herd and began making fresh cheeses like mozzarella

2006 - Built aging caves and began making aged cheeses

2012 - Grid Magazine’s Cheese of the Month (Nov – Full Nettle Jack); Finalist at the Good Food Awards (Toma)

2013 - Won 2 blue ribbons from the American Cheese Society(for Buttercup Brie and Lawrenceville Jack Reserve); Added second cheesemaker

2014 - Broke ground on additional aging space and began process of getting AWA certification for our chickens
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