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The terroir of milk & cheese, farmers' market offerings, farm happenings

Posted 6/14/2019 2:03pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

I’ve been thinking about the concept of “terroir” lately.  Terroir is a French term most often used to describe wines and their flavor profiles as tied to specific geographic regions, their soils and micro-climates.  It is also used to describe cheeses. It is a quintessentially European concept, born of millennia spent developing food and beverage traditions in isolated mountain tops and valleys. 

In the U.S, especially here in the Midwest, our food and beverage traditions, if they ever existed, have been displaced by an embrace of uniformity, an erasure of place-based tastes.  To be sure, there certain cheeses made in specific regions with distinct flavor profiles. But our current food culture, even our “foodie” culture tends to underplay or ignore the relationships between food, flavor and place. 

As a dairy farmer and cheese maker, I obsess over terroir.  I am constantly thinking about our prairie soils amended with our goat manure compost and the forages they grow. We are frequently inspecting our pastures to make sure the mix of grasses, legumes and other plants stays diverse. I want to know what the goats are eating during their daily forays to the pasture and prairie.  The goat herders tell me what they’re craving (sometimes it’s tender grass shoots, other times it’s something with flowers or some cottonwood leaves), and I try to extrapolate how that’s affecting the formation of the curd and the flavor of the chevre. The chevre is my bellwether for subtle changes in the milk related to diet and weather, since we make it daily. 

Our geography and our little slice of central Illinois prairie matter. The genetics of our goat herd matter. Our dark deep soils and, the plants they nourish, feed our goats and flavor our milk.  To assume they have no bearing on the flavors and consistencies of our cheeses would be negligent.   

Farmers’ Market Offerings Saturday, June 15th Market at the Square” 7 AM to 12 Noon. The weather forecast is calling for a chance of rain, but don’t let that slow you down. We have a great repertoire of cheeses this week.  Surprise your favorite dad with flight of PFFC cheeses for Father's Day this weekend.

We still have a few containers of fresh ricotta, a limited number of yogurt quarts and a full house of bloomies. Here’s the cheese lineup for this weekend:

Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper

Fresh Ricotta: simple, sweet, a foundation cheese upon which to build your savory or sweet creations

Angel Food-our little crottin style bloomy, it’s compact, firm in the center with a slightly gooey edge. This batch is young, bright and firm. As it ages, the mushroom notes from the rind take hold. Slice over a salad of fresh local greens or lightly bread it and bake it for a fancy cheese plate.

Little Bloom on the Prairie-a goat milk camembert-style bloomy, this batch is aging very nicely with subtle mushroom notes.

Black Goat: our funky ash-dusted bloomy rind with a crinkly white-mold rind. This batch is aging nicely, yet the paste is somewhat firm and fudgy in consistency. Enjoy with a local salami.

Moonglo-Enjoy a wedge of this complex, raw-milk beauty. Each wheel is washed with a cultured brine made with pear-leaf tea. It’s great with local charcuterie or try some shaved over a salad of greens and roasted broccoli. We are almost finished with our last wheels of this cheese, so grab some while it's still here. 

Goat Milk Yogurt-our very own goat milk yogurt—just milk and live cultures—no thickeners or sweeteners added. It’s great mixed with fresh berries, nuts and a drizzle of local honey or maple syrup (it’s my breakfast staple every morning)-VERY LIMITED--come early if you want some.

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

  • Vanilla
  • Maple walnut (with Funk’s Grove maple syrup)
  • Chocolate
  • Fresh Mint
  • Salted Caramel Swirl

How about topping off some gelato with our house-made cajeta (goat’s milk caramel sauce)?  We made a special version with chocolate this time. We’ll be bringing some jars to sell at the market on Saturday, and they’ll be available in our farm store too.

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

You can visit with the goats (kids and adults alike), stroll through the orchard and check out our herb and vegetable garden (finally planted and growing like crazy).  

You can also enjoy a scoop of gelato OR cheese board with a glass of wine/beer or a black currant spritzer.  Need a little caffeine? We can make you a special espresso drink. We can even put a scoop of gelato for an “affogato. 

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!

-eggs, 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

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

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

Other Farm Happenings   

Tickets to one of our farm dinners are a hot commodityCheck out themes and dates on our website and our ticket sales page (ShowClix), and make some reservations. The menu for the upcoming “Early Summer Bounty with Beer” is now posted on our website. Chefs Jordan and Arora of American Harvest Eatery have crafted a luscious menu featuring the freshest summer veggies, many of our cheeses and beer pairings from Rolling Meadows Brewery. We have a few seats still available for this dinner, so check out the menu and book your reservations.

Behind the Scenes Tour & Tasting

Michael Darin, our special events coordinator extraordinaire, will be offering his "Behind the Scenes" tours this weekend: June 15th/16th at 2 and 3 pm each day.  For those of you celebrating father's day, why not surprise your dad by taking him to the farm for a tour/tasting, and then order a cheese board with your favorite adult beverages.

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.