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Preservation state of mind, Market offerings, Farm happenings and Other Events

Posted 9/6/2018 9:48pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

This is the time of harvest. My early summer fears of no ripe tomatoes have dissolved into pinks and reds and yellows and oranges loaded onto my wagon earlier this week.  The regrets about having a small garden and planting too few pepper plants are annulled by the plants so heavy with fruit that the stems are breaking off.  Even the late planted potatoes appear to be hiding a decent bounty of tubers just below the soil’s surface.  

The seckel pear branches have been loaded with tiny pears for weeks now; the clusters so dense, they looked like engorged grapes dripping from an arbor.  We harvested over nine crates of pears; an amazing haul considering we have never had more than a few handfuls of pears in nearly 14 years of growing them. 

After the harvest, the realization that there are way too many tomatoes and peppers and pears to eat fresh begins to sink in.  The plans for preservation take shape.  Tomatoes go into the food dryer or are drizzled with olive oil and set into a low oven to slow roast overnight.  The food processors and blenders and food mills get pulled out of storage to chop and puree.  The water bath canner is dusted off and boxes of canning jars appear on the kitchen counters.  Roasted orange banana tomatoes, pureed into velvet orange sauce, are poured gently into sterilized jars and set carefully into the boiling water waiting to seal in the sweetness of summer. 

Pears wait their turn in make-shift refrigeration units. Soon, they will transform into pear butter and pear cider and poached canned pears. The peppers are charred and seeded and peeled, sliced into strips, waiting to be added to chevre or bathed in a brine to ferment them.  We’re in the heat of the preservation state of mind. This is the time that we convince ourselves that nothing should go to waste; even the slightly bug-eaten fruits can be salvaged.  Soon, after the canning jars line the shelves and there’s no more room for one more bag of frozen tomatoes, the standards will be loosened, and the chickens and the compost pile will be the beneficiaries of the excesses of the late summer harvest. 

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  This week’s text club special relates to big-hugs black goat and blushing goat. To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings The forecast is calling for rain on Saturday. This is typically a market killer. Don’t let the rain slow you down.  There is so much great food from so many farmers this time of year, please don’t let it all go to waste.  Just bring an umbrella and we’ll let you stay dry under our market tent.

Here’s the cheese line up for Saturday:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Goat Milk Feta: Tomatoes are still plentiful and delicious. With the cooler weather, why not roast some tomatoes with crumbled feta and fresh chopped herbs?  We also have a tomato-watermelon-feta recipe on our website.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is nearing ripeness perfection.  Flavor is buttery, milky and slightly mushroomy. Enjoy simply on a slice of crusty bread with local honey or jam.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this batch of Angel Food is aging nicely, with hints of cream and mushroom.  Angel Food won’t be around for the rest of the season, so grab the few that we have left.
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is young and firm; the opposite of last week’s ooey-gooey version.  It has wonderful yeasty aroma and a tart lemony paste.
  • Big Hugs Black Goat: our collaboration with Half Acre Brewery, Chicago. This black goat has “big hugs” coffee stout beer infused in the curd. It’s perfectly ripe this week, borderline gooey, with a lovely hoppy beer flavor in the finish. Try serving with grilled peaches or pan toasted apple slices.
  • Blushing Goat: our take on a washed rind cheese—these little rounds are washed with a kombucha beer for one month.  These blushing pink-orange beauties have a dense gooey-fudgy paste with a rich umami flavor. This cheese just keeps getting better and better with age. If you haven’t tried it, ask for a taste. Try it with caramelized onions on a crostini.
  • Moonglo:  Our first spring milk batches of this raw milk tomme (sort of like a Gouda, but not really) are making their debut at the market and in the farm store. The spring milk produces a lighter, tangy paste with hints of pineapple. The texture of the cheese is a bit more firm than fall milk batches. I’ve got a Sweet-Corn-Moonglo “Queso” recipe posted on our website, so take a look.
  • Applewood Smoked Moonglo: our friends at Urbana’s Black Dog Smoke and Ale House cold-smoked our Moonglo cheese over Applewood chips; the result is a lovely smoky version of our Moonglo. Like our regular Moonglo, it makes a killer grilled cheese (that’s what Black Dog is doing with it at their Urbana location). You could also use it in the “Hot Queso” recipe. 
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination). We’re down to a few wheels, and once it’s gone, we won’t have any again until next year.

Gelato: Even more great flavors for you this week. Pints only at the market ($10 each or 3 for $27); scoops at the farm during open hours. Don’t forget to come see us at the Japan House Matsuri Festival on Sunday, Sept. 9th, 2-9 pm.  We’ll be serving some special gelato flavors. Market pint flavors include:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Buttered Pecan (made with Voss Orchard Pecans, Carlyle IL)
  • Fresh Mint
  • Peaches & Cream (made with our very own peaches from the PFFC orchard)
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (with nectarines from Mileur Orchard)
  • Honey-Vanilla-Chevre (made with local  honey)
  • Thai Basil
  • Tart Cherry Amaretto-Stracciatella (it’s a mouthful and it’s delicious)—premium flavor costs $12/pint

If haven’t figured out yet where we are at the market this year: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Fall Hours

We have new hours for the fall:  Fridays, 4-7 pm and Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. Come see the farm as summer fades into fall.  On Fridays, come out after work to unwind. During our open hours, you can savor a scoop of gelato or “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a stick of salami (Underground Meats) or a jar of jam from Autumn Berry Inspired or pickled veggies, grab some Central IL Bake-house baguette bread and we’ll provide the board.

You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese! Want to go the total sweet route? How about a root-beer float with a scoop of our gelato?

Need to de-stress? Come visit with the goats. They love to be petted, and they might try to trick you into feeding them some hay.  Shop in our farm store: “The Real Stand.” We’ve got pasture-raised meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats, frozen artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co., pickled veggies and pesto by Sarah (our former gelato maker), locally-grown and milled flours by The Mill at Janie’s Farm and much more.

NEW IN THE STORE:  PFFC goat meat—we have one pound packages of stew meat, goat loin or rib chops (4 to a package) and leg shanks (2 to a package). Pasture raised, very lean and mild, try the meat that most of the rest of the world enjoys regularly. 

We will probably be selling some of seckel pears in the farm store this weekend too.

U-PICK: U-picking is suspended until further notice.  We might have apples for u-pick in mid-September. We are also planning another “Cider Days” event, probably in October, so stay tuned for details. 

Farm Dinners: Fall season is upon us, and the September and October farm dinners are filling up fast.  I encourage you to book your tickets now. The two versions of our 100 Yard Dinner are essentially sold out (a couple of tickets for the one on Oct. 13th are still available).   We have added a beer dinner with Half Acre Brewery for Saturday, October 6th. We’ll likely be serving some beer-cheese collaborations, so you won’t want to miss this one if you love micro-brews.

Upcoming Farm or Farm-Related Events—There are a lot of great things going on this fall. Check them out:

Matsuri Festival, Sunday September 9th, 2-9pm Once again, we will be slinging (well, serving nicely) Japanese inspired flavors of gelato and sorbetto at the Japan House Matsuri Festival: matcha green tea, black sesame, Thai basil and ginger-white peach sorbetto.  We are sharing a tent with Pizza M. For those of you who miss Pizza M, Matt has been making our gelato all summer. Grab a slice of pizza and a scoop of gelato.  Enjoy the festivities as Japan House celebrates its 20th anniversary. 2-9 pm.

Saturday, September 15th The Land Connection’s Annual “Artisan Fork & Cup” Fundraiser, 6-9pm at the Broadway Food Hall in Urbana. Chefs team up with local farms to craft a special dish that is judged by culinary professionals and the guests. It’s a great way to support local foods and the work of a great regional organization. For more information and tickets: https://thelandconnection.org/artisan-cup-fork

Thursday, September 20th Cooking Demonstration at the Farm: 5:30-8:00 pm. If you’re trying to eat healthier, and learn how locally-sourced ingredients are easy to prepare, this event is for you. Save the date on your calendars. More details to follow.   

Marche-Glen Ellyn bus trip to Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery-Sunday, Sept. 23rd, all day trip For those you who live in the greater Chicagoland Area, and have been looking for an excuse to come visit us, and enjoy a locally-sourced lunch at the farm (as well as a guided tour), your ship (or bus) has come in. The amazing little cheese shop (gourmet foods too) in Glen Ellyn called Marche is offering an all-inclusive bus trip to our farm. Check out the details on their website: https://www.marche496.com/shop/marche-classes/sunday-september-23rd-farm-to-table-lunch-and-tour-at-prairie-fruits-farm/

CU Symphony Orchestra to perform special “environmental” pieces on our farm on Sunday September 23rd, 2-4 pm. Visit Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery for a free gelato social and concert from 2:00 to 4:00 pm on Sunday, September 23 to celebrate Mother Earth's summer harvest! This tribute to our planet will feature musicians from the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra performing several earth-themed chamber works by CUSO Composer-in-Residence Stacy Garrop. PFFC owners Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband will bring us the latest news about their sustainability efforts on the farm.

Take a tour of the farm, visit the goats, and participate in our "Messages to Gaia" community art project--where you can draw pictures, write poetry or simply share your thoughts about our planet. Come enjoy! This free gelato social is sponsored by CUSO, New Music USA, and Prairie Fruit Farms & Creamery. 

September 24th, Standard Market Naperville will host Leslie Cooperband of Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery for cheese tasting and wine pairing event (6-8 pm). Check out the details here: https://standardmarket.com/events/prairie-fruits-farm/

Septembers 26th Illinois Makers Fall Festival, Pioneer Court adjacent to the Tribune Building and the Apple Store, Chicago, 2-6 pm. Leslie Cooperband will be there sampling cheese and selling cheeses too. Chicago fans, we miss you. Come see me that afternoon and pick up some cheese.  Details about the event forthcoming.

Saturday, November 3rd Meet the Cheese Maker at Eataly Chicago, 12:30-1:30 pm. We’ll be headed up to Chicago to do a special cheese tasting and wine pairing.  Sign up here: https://www.eataly.com/us_en/classes-and-events/chicago/cheese-tasting-with-local-producer-prairie-fruits-farm-creamery-2018-11-03-5033 

Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. 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.