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Gettin' bigger, Farmers' Market and Farm Store Offerings, Goat Walk Happy Hour and More

Posted 7/18/2019 10:49pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

Our new cheese vat arrived this week, custom built and shipped to us from the Netherlands.  This vat holds up to 105 gallons of milk, while our older original vat can process barely half that amount. The new vat is a game changer for us. Through a farmer grant with sweetgreen, a national fast-casual salad restaurant to whom we supply 400-500 pounds of chevre weekly (four locations in Chicago), we purchased this vat so we can grow as sweetgreen-Chicago grows. 

The logistics of moving such a stainless steel beast into our small creamery were nerve-racking.  Wes spent hours devising a system to lift the vat (weighing over 300 pounds) from its shipping crate onto a cart that could then be wheeled to the entrance of our creamery.  Lifting it off the cart into the creamery hallway required the strength of three men.  Once inside, we fretted over moving it down our narrow hallway and then pivoting it into the door of the make room.  With the door removed, it proved remarkably easy.  Once inside the make room, it took the strength of two women and one man to move it into place. 

First Chevre Ladle from New Vat (slideshow4153)

Taking a giant leap of faith, we made our maiden first batch of chevre with 92 gallons worth of milk. True to form, the robust recipe and process scaled beautifully. Of course, we’ll need to work out a few adjustments on ladling and processing so much more cheese in one fell swoop.  Of course, the arrival of the vat coincided with a heat wave, which has caused our goat milk production to nose dive.  No matter.  We will figure it out as we take our baby steps towards “the big leagues” of cheese making. We’re still pretty small, and the fundamental process of how we make our chevre has not changed.  Now we need more goats!

Farm Store and Farmers’ Market Offerings We’re having a heat wave, at least through Saturday, so come prepared to the market with a cooler and some ice packs. Come early if you can too. Here’s the line-up:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper 
  • Goat Milk Feta in Whey Brine: our goat milk feta is firm and tangy. Bathed in a whey-salt brine for at least one month, the texture is what I call “creamy-crumbly.” This batch is tasting mighty fine. It’s perfect crumbled over sweetcorn bathed in a spicy mayo. 
  • Angel Food-our little crottin style bloomy, it’s compact, firm in the center with a slightly gooey edge as it ages. This batch is young-slightly tangy, firm with a slight hint of mushroom. Try grilling it whole and serve with grilled peaches and balsamic glaze. 
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-a goat milk camembert-style bloomy. This batch is aging beautifully (firm center, starting to get gooey on edges), and has a wonderful buttered mushroom flavor. Adorn with some fresh herbs and drizzle some honey-serve with crusty bread and a cold glass of white wine.
  • Black Goat: our funky ash-dusted bloomy rind with a crinkly white-mold rind. This batch is aging really well and has lovely earthy notes. This cheese holds up well to stronger flavors, such as hard salamis or a really tart summer berry jam.  Add a glass of summer red wine or try our newest sparkling wine offering in the farm store—Illinois’ Sparkling Company’s “Pet Nat” (an unfiltered champagne-style sparkling wine—like a marriage between kombucha and wine)

Cool off with a pint of gelato (3 pint special is still a thing—Buy 3, get $1/pint off): Here's the line-up:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Fresh Strawberry (from Cary’s Garden of Eatin’)
  • Peach-Ginger (also from Cary’s Garden)
  • Mint Stracciatella (fancy ganache chocolate ribbons in mint gelato)
  • Nectarine sorbetto (from Mileur Orchard)

Can’t make it to the market on Saturday morning? No worries: the farm is open Thursdays and Fridays, 4-8 pm and weekends, Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 pm.

NEWS FLASH: We now have a window-unit air-conditioner installed in the farm store, so it’s actually quite pleasant inside. If you can’t take the heat, come on out to the farm and enjoy a scoop of gelato or a cheese board. We offer a “build your own cheese board.”  You pick out the cheese(s) and accompaniments (jam, honey, pickled veggies or pecans), we provide you with a demi-baguette from Central Illinois Bake House. Complete the experience with a glass of wine or beer. Can’t decide what you want? Ask our staff for recommendations.  

Experience late afternoon and dusk on the farm. It’s magical. Of course, you can visit with the goats (kids and adults alike), stroll through the orchard, and check out our herb and vegetable garden.  If you’re ambitious, you can walk along the path toward the creek.

Check out the local products and “merch” in our farm store:  

-NEW maple syrup from “Sticky Peets”-southern OH maple syrup that oh so good!

-NEW pecans (plain and cinnamon sugar) from Voss Pecan Orchard, Carlyle, IL

-NEW-Illinois Sparkling Wine Co/August Hill Winery (Peru IL) Champagne style Brut Rose and Pet Nat (Petit Natural)—ask for a taste; these wines are truly amazing from a local winery a couple hours north of us

-local honey from Two Million Blooms

-eggs (chicken and duck), meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats (Sidney)

-soaps from Red Barn Farm (including loofa soaps and liquid soap)

-Pancake mixes from Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains-think pancakes with jam and chevre!

-Autumn Berry Jam-regular and jalapeno-we are restocked; these jams make excellent accompaniments to our cheeses

-Animal Welfare Approved Bandanas

-BACK by popular demand: Our “Three Chippys” tea towel. Chippy the goat is the farm’s logo, and she appears as chef, farmer and sommelier on this organic cotton flour sack tea towel AND our “Damn Kids” tea towel

NEW: Chippy the Chef Denim Aprons-soft, durable with three pockets for the most discerning chef in your family

NEW stock of PFFC T-shirts—new colors, styles—check them out! New children’s t-shirts with the “damn kids” image on the front—quite adorable

-Charcuterie from Piemonte Sausage Co.  (pancetta, pork loin filleto and capocollo) as well as their frozen sausages (need to be cooked) OR salamis from Underground Meats

-locally milled flours from Janie’s Mill AND MORE!

Other Farm Happenings   

Goat Walk Happy Hour-July 25th, 6-8 pm. We’ve changed up the format for the happy hour, so check out the details and book your reservations NOW. We limit the number of guests to 35 so that you can really get a lot of “quality” time with the goats in the prairie. 

Dinners on the Farm Summer is the perfect time to experience one of our farm dinners. We have a few seats still left for the Grill It New England Style Farm Dinner (this Saturday, July 20th). Also, check out the Sunday afternoon lamb dinner in mid-August, and this year’s take on our “100 Yard Dinner-Follow the Milk at the end of August. Check out all the themes and dates on our website and our ticket sales page (ShowClix), and make some reservations.

Behind the Scenes Tour & Tasting

Michael Darin, our special events coordinator extraordinaire will be offering his "Behind the Scenes" tours on: July 27th/28th at 2 and 3 pm each day.  For the tours, guests will gather under the Prairie Pavilion to start the tour.

Michael will give a brief history about the farm and some background about the owners Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband.  He will then guide guests around the farm and creamery where they will learn about raising goats, how the farm functions day-to-day, as well as how the creamery transforms our goat milk into delicious cheese and gelato. The tour will end with an interactive cheese tasting in the Real Stand Farm Store.  Tours are conducted rain or shine, and last approximately 45-minutes. Please be prepared to walk around the farm; comfortable closed-toed shoes are advised. 

No reservations are required. Cost is $10 for adults, $6 for kids 12 and under. Glasses of wine or beer can be added to the tasting for a tour price of $6.    

Copyright 2019. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2019. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.