FARMSTEAD & ARTISAN CHEESES
Goat Cheese galore! At Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery we offer a variety of farmstead and artisan cheeses!
OUR GOATS & THEIR MILK
A few general comments about our goats and their milk: The goats are seasonal breeders and lactators. They are all bred in the fall (October/November) and kid (have babies) in the spring (March/April). They lactate (produce milk) for 9-10 months and are dry (not lactating) from late December through February.
Since their milk is seasonal, and their diet also affects flavor and components (butterfat and protein), the flavors and textures of our cheeses vary with the seasons. This is part of the beauty of seasonal, farmstead (using the milk from our own herd to make our dairy products) and artisanal cheeses.
Using the milk from our pastured herd of Nubian and La Mancha goats, we produce mostly French inspired cheeses that have their roots in our deep dark prairie soils. Our herd has been certified “Animal Welfare Approved” by “A Greener World” since 2010. Our goats graze and browse seasonally in rotational pasture setting that includes browse trees (silvopasture). Our season runs from March through mid-December. NEW in 2021, we are making several cheeses from our dairy friends at Rocky Road Organic Dairy in Mulberry Grove IL. Their Brown Swiss cow herd is certified organic and is ALL Grassfed (no grain!).
Available Year Round
Our fresh chevre is as fresh as it gets—we make several batches each week, so what you're eating is usually one to three days old! After a long, slow fermentation process of the milk, we gently hand ladle the curd and then hand mix the sea salt, resulting in a creamy, fluffy cheese. Taste the hints of lemon and savor the luscious mouth feel. Available year-round.
Late April through Early November
Black goat is a Geotrichum candidum (a delicate, yeast-like white mold) rinded goat round, dusted with a vegetable ash once the cheese is brined. The ash neutralizes the acidity of the cheese, resulting in a slightly more mellow and buttery finish on the pallet. This cheese evokes earthy notes with a hint of yeasty bread dough. When young, this cheese has a firm paste and mild flavor; as it ages, it becomes gooey on the edges and stronger in flavor. Peak ripeness occurs 3-4 weeks of age. Available late April through early November.
LITTLE BLOOM ON THE PRAIRIE
Mid-April through Mid-November
Little Bloom on the Prairie is a cut-curd, camembert-style cheese with a dense, core and gooey exterior. It reaches peak ripeness around 4 weeks of age, and just gets more gooey as it continues to ripen. You can taste the mushroomy rind and slightly tangy yet buttery interior. Both Angel Food and Little Bloom on the Prairie pair well with tart berry preserves and honey. They can be warmed and used like baked brie or “brie en croute” (brie baked in puff pastry).
Mid-April through Mid-November
Angel Food is a ladled curd cheese with a thin rind and a dense, creamy paste. It ripens over 4-6 weeks and most closely resembles a "crottin" or variant on firm brie. When young, the paste is dense and tart; as the cheese ages, it becomes gooey.
FLEUR DE LA PRAIRIE
This delicate bloomy has the same type of white mold species as black goat, minus the ash. It is inspired by a Corsican sheep milk cheese called “brin d’amour.” Once the white mold starts to bloom, we adorn the cheeses with a mixture of dried herbs (thyme, fennel, oregano, etc.) and edible flowers (nastursium, hyssop flowers, geum marigolds, calendula, etc.). This cheese ages for at least three weeks before it develops a mild-earthy flavor. The herbs and edible flowers grownn in our farm's herb garden impart their flavor to the cheese as well. It’s perfect with a dry white or rose or even a sparkling wine. It would also go very nicely with an IPA, Belgian ale or pilsner beer.
GOAT MILK FETA
Our feta is made “Greek style" and aged in a whey brine for at one month. It is crumbly yet creamy, tangy and simply delicious. We sell it as a It can be used in many recipes calling for good quality feta OR dress it up with some extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs and edible flowers, serve with warm crusty bread and you a have a light summer meal.
This raw (unpasteurized) goat milk hard cheese is inspired by Spanish cheeses like Manchego and Majorero. The rind is rubbed with a guajillo chile powder-olive oil paste. The cheese wheels age for 2-3 months, creating a sharp, nutty and slightly fruity flavor. This cheese is perfect for grating, shaving or slicing. Shave over your favorite grilled or roasted veggies. Enjoy a slice with a slice of apple or pear. Pairs well with medium to full-bodied red wines and stronger ales.
ARTISAN COTTAGE CHEESE
We use a traditional, long ferment process to form the curds for this artisan version of an “everyday” eating cheese. After the curds are formed, we drain the whey, salt the curds and add back whole milk and cream. You can see and taste the pasture in the milk—the golden color and richness is evidence of an all-grass cow dairy. Enjoy either sweet (with fruit and honey) or savory (make a dip or serve it a top your favorite salad).
GIDGET'S GRILLING CHEESE
A “Halloumi” style (originated in Cypress) that is made to withstand direct heat without melting. This is a brined cheese with a firm paste, a “squeaky” cheese mouthfeel and mild flavor. The key to unlocking the special flavor is to grill or pan fry this cheese. We recommend rubbing olive oil on both sides and placing the entire slab on direct heat (hot grill or pan) for 5-7 minutes per side. Slice like you would a steak, serve with a squeeze of lemon juice, fresh herbs and maybe a drizzle of local honey.
WHERE TO GET OUR PRODUCTS
We sell our products through local markets in Central Illinois including Urbana’s Market at the Square, as well as several restaurant and retail locations in Champaign-Urbana - Common Ground Food Cooperative, Strawberry Fields-World Harvest Foods and Harvest Market.
Not in C-U? Look for our products in Bloomington-Normal at Common Ground Grocery and Greentop Grocery. Our cheeses are also available in select Chicago and Chicagoland locations, including numerous restaurants, and small retail specialty food and grocery shops such as Local Foods, sweetgreen River North and North & Clybourn , Potash Markets and select Whole Foods stores in Chicago.
We also offer On-Farm Sales throughout the season, where you can come out to the farm! Gelato pints and scoops are available as well as our cheese. Since farm hours vary by season, check out our newsletter or the main page of our website for the most current store hours.