grass fed

A Fair Day at Cherry Grove Farm

Last week our friends at Fair Food Farmstand dropped by! We had a fantastic time giving them a behind-the-scenes look at how we operate on a daily basis, and we even got our hands a little dirty in the process! Fair Food Farmstand carries our farmstead cheeses and a plethora of other farm-sourced goodies at their stand in the Philadelphia Reading Terminal Market. Next time you are in the city, be sure to check them out! Here is what they had to say about their visit to Cherry Grove:

 

Last Tuesday, the boys of Fair Food—myself, Noel and Nate—took a trip to Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville, NJ. We met some very fine folks including Stacey, our lovely tour guide; Sam, the head cheese maker; and Malachy, our former Farmstand cheese intern. Cherry Grove is a picturesque farm of 400 acres, 250 of which are certified organic pasture for their 115 Jersey and Short Horn cows. From these cows comes the sweet milk that produces some of our favorite cheeses at the Farmstand—the Havilah and Toma Primavera being two of our stand-by’s. 

 

Noel, Craig & Nate gear up for the cheesemaking room.

 

Our first leg of the tour was the cheese room and there was action! Sam was scooping, molding and pressing some fresh Herdsman. Malachy was hand-molding some beautiful bloomy rinds. Giant wheels of Havilah were soaking in their salt brine. We checked out their three caves: one for the bloomy rinds (that buttery Buttercup Brie), one for the Havilah, Herdsman and Jacks and a single cave just for the Toma Primavera.  

 

Cheese Curds

 

Next we took a tour of the farm and pastures. Cherry Grove puts a lot of effort into being a sustainable system. We met “the spreader” which is a nifty conveyor belt that recycles the cow manure into fertilizer. We saw “the sucker” which takes the excess whey from the cheese room and pipes it to their 100% whey-fed Berkshire pigs. Their wood fire heat exchanger provides heat and hot water for all of the cheese making and the farm store. The wood comes from local tree surgeons who deliver the wood that they would normally have to pay to landfill—pretty cool if you ask me! 

 

Cherry Grove’s Pastures

 

Lastly we got to spend some time with the pasture-raised chickens. There is no experience quite like harvesting eggs with 1,000 clucking and pecking chickens at your feet on a 95-degree summer day. We had a blast, to say the least! Living in the city, it’s incredibly refreshing to spend time on a farm—so much that we worked for fun! 

 

Aging Wheels of Toma Primavera

 

We wrapped up our tour with a cheese tasting and we were fortunate to come home with treats: our harvested eggs; delicious pork products for ourselves; and a couple of wheels of Toma Primavera (the first batches of the season!) for your enjoyment at the Farmstand.

The folks at Cherry Grove were so knowledgeable, and fun—I am already looking forward to our next visit! In the meantime we’ll keep on enjoying their delicious cheeses and organic veggies down at the stand!

-Craig

 

 

Know Where Your [Pet] Food Comes From!

Many people seek out Cherry Grove Farm because they understand the importance of being connected to their food source. Wouldn’t it be amazing to also extend that right to your four-footed friends at home? Now you can! At Cherry Grove, we are now offering local and grass-fed dog food alternatives for $3.99/lb:

 

  • Beef Tongue
  • Beef Liver
  • Mixed Bones
  • Beef Heart

 

When we send an animal to the butcher, we get just about everything back, which includes things most people do not find palatable. Although you might not imagine yourself eating beef heart, your dog would actually love it! Think about it—wolves in the wild don’t have access to can openers.

 

Benefits

There are many benefits pets can gain from a raw diet: a shinier coat, cleaner teeth, better skin, and smaller stool. Amanda, one of our newest employees, successfully switched her finicky cat, Flip, to a raw diet when he was 12 years old. He was overweight, had a scraggly coat, and was generally a grump. Although Flip’s crankiness never subsided, his weight balanced out, he had less dry skin, and his fur became sleek and glossy. He is still thriving on a raw diet 4 years later! Amanda also transitioned her two younger cats and her 3-year-old golden retriever to the diet, and they thank her twice daily for it.

 

 

How-To

We absolutely recommend consulting your veterinarian for specific recommendations regarding the diet of your particular furry friend. All animals are different, and their diets must meet their individual nutritional needs. We are not trained veterinarians here at Cherry Grove, but we can offer you some basic guidelines to get started.

Whether you plan on starting your pet on a complete or partial raw diet, the change must take place slowly over time. Not all pets (particularly cats) immediately take to new food, so try to gauge the transition based on how your pet reacts. Additionally, pets with digestive issues may need a slower transition.

 

 

Your pet’s stool is a great barometer for how he or she is handling the dietary change. At first, their stool will be a little soft and loose, but it will eventually be become smaller, firmer, and less smelly. Here is one way you can approach the transition:

 

Days 1-3: Feed a mixture of 25% raw food and 75% current food at each meal.

Days 4-7: Feed raw food in the morning and current food in the evening.

Thereafter: Feed raw food for both meals only after your pet fully accepts the new food and their stool is smaller, harder, and less odorous. If your pet’s stool is still soft or loose at this point, take the transition more slowly.

 

Once the transition is complete, pets should be consuming approximately 2.5% of their total body weight per day. For example, a 50-pound dog should get 1.25 pounds of food per day (or a little over 0.6 pounds per feeding). This percentage is based on maintaining weight, and can be increased to 3% for underweight animals or decreased to 2% if weight loss is necessary.

 

We recommend storing your raw dog food in the freezer and thawing on an as-needed basis. It is also a good idea to rotate proteins and to switch between organ and muscle meat. Dogs need variety just like people!

 

Canned pet food is specifically formulated to include all necessary nutrients. When switching to a raw diet, it is important to retain that nutritional balance. A wholesome raw diet includes muscle and organ meat, bones, raw eggs, ground eggshells (for calcium), veggies, fruits, and even dairy.

 

 

*Caution*

There is always a risk of bacterial infection from improperly handling raw meat. Always be sure to wash hands often and disinfect counter tops, utensils, and food dishes. Although this risk is present with a raw diet, it has also proven to be a huge problem in commercially processed pet foods. Careful and informed handling greatly reduces the risk of infection in a raw diet, and it puts the pet owner in control instead of a manufacturing facility.

Resources

There are countless resources with more specific information about raw diets for pets. Here are a few that we recommend, so you can decide for yourself what is best for your pet:

 

 

It may seem like a lot of research and work, but after the initial transition it becomes second nature. Our furry friends give us so much love, they deserve the extra effort! We hope that we will greatly improve the health of your pets by offering local and grass-fed alternatives at Cherry Grove Farm!

 

Photo Credit: Stephanie Spock

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!

 

Thank You!

Winter time is here. All of our fall time classes are over, our grilled cheese weekends are coming to an end, and most importantly our girls (cows) are pregnant and dried off for the winter months. This means as a farm we get the chance to improve on any projects that are in the works and also a perfect time for our cheese makers to get a little time off. Being a part of a seasonal operation that treads lightly on the animals, employees, and the land, shows all of  us here how things should be.

All nine of us, the staff at Cherry grove Farm, would like to take this time to thank all of the girls (cows) that worked so hard all year walking up from the back fields to give us milk twice a day; to our wonderful loyal customers that stop in once a week if not more to support their local farm/farmer; and to our two very hard working cheese makers who hit their goal this year of making 45,000 pounds of handcrafted farmstead cheese for the surrounding areas.

Happy Holidays & Thank You All For Such A Successful Year!

After Waiting Eight Long Months….

We Are More Than Proud To Announce This Seasons Havilah Has Just Been Released In Our Farm Store!

Don’t wait too long to come out to the farm to try this mouth-watering grass-fed Italian Alpine style cheese (we just might run out).

What This Seasons Havilah Tastes Like…

The first taste that comes to mind is the pineapple notes that go right to the back of your tongue to start this mouth-watering effect, secondly
you taste the rich flavors of an Asiago combined with a sweet caramel note. Add in the hard texture and the bright
golden hue of the paste, and this cheese is a dream come true! Stop by the farm this week to try some on our sample board and stock-up for the holidays!

 


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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