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Experimentation, the indulgence of the artisan cheesemaker

Posted 9/18/2009 12:16pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Science is in my blood, so I can't help myself in trying to make either new styles of cheese or variations on the cheeses that we already make. Las week we debuted an "experimental" soft ripened goat cheese called "Prairie Drop Seed." Our customers seemed to really like that cheese, and we may consider adding it to our repertoire next year.  This week we have two more "experiments" to share with you.  The first is a hard, raw sheep milk farmhouse cheese that we have been aging for about six months. We made this cheese when we were flush with sheep milk in the spring. The texture is dry and firm, and it makes for an excellent grating or shaving cheese. The taste has hints of pineapple and vanilla as well as a slight nuttiness.  We've named this cheese "Kaskaskia," after the Kaskaskia river that has it's headwaters just south of Champaign and runs right through Arthur--very close to Plank Sheep Dairy Farm where we get our sheep milk. We've cut the large wheels into small wedges for you to try.
Kaskaskia in early stages of aging
Kaskaskia in early to mid stages of aging
The next "experiment" is an apple-wood smoked Little Bloom on the Prairie. We're calling it "Smokin' Little Bloom."  The texture is totally different than our regular camembert style Little Bloom on the Prairie--much more firm.  The applewood smoke flavor is subtle to moderate.  The cheese is excellent for slicing and melting as a gourmet grilled cheese. Go ahead and indulge.
This week we will be attending three farmers' markets: Urbana, Oak Park and Green City Market. In addition to the experimental cheeses, we will be bringing the following:
Chevre--plain, herbed, cracked pepper and heirloom dried tomato
Mouton Frais--the fresh sheep milk cheese that is a creamy cousin to our chevre
Angel Food
Ewe Bloom
Roxanne--it is very buttery and grassy tasting right now.
Moonglo--bright as the harvest moon.

For those of you awaiting our honey, we will have limited quantities at each of the markets this week. Emil, our bee keeper, tells me that June is the critical month for making honey. If the weather is cloudy or rainy, the bees won't fly. Add to that a very cloudy and rainy July and part of August, and you can see where the honey supply is going this year.  So, everyone should pray to the rain gods next year to hold off in June.  What little we have is a true work of bee art, so try to get to the markets early to get some.

Update on our petition to stop the Olympian Drive Extension road project
We received tremendous response from many of our patrons at the Urbana Farmers' Market. We will have the petition at our market stand again this Saturday if you didn't get a chance to sign it.
Thanks for your support!!