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Hoarding for winter, Cheeses in the winners' circle, Market & Farm offerings

Farm News

Every fall, like the squirrels hoarding their acorns, we start freezing our chevre so we can extend our selling season well into winter. We try to stockpile what we think we can sell until the goats start having babies in March and cheese making resumes. Historically, this has been a delicate dance of the chest freezers, carefully stacking containers of chevre, trying to keep batches together and our inventory of flavors straight. There’s always been a tug of war for who gets priority for space in these freezers—cheese, gelato, frozen veggies and fruits from the garden. Chevre usually wins, but not without a lot of product shifting and consolidating. Often, we end up buying yet one more chest freezer to accommodate all of our farm’s needs.

When the Illinois Stewardship Alliance announced a small grants program for farmers to survive the pandemic, we jumped at the chance to submit a proposal to build a walk-in freezer. Not only could we solve the seasonal shortage of freezer space for our own farm needs, but we could also freeze chevre during the height of our production season, if our markets evaporate from pandemic-related shutdowns. We could build a really big one so that we could rent space to our fellow fruit and vegetable farmers, who might be looking to preserve their excess produce. We submitted a proposal, and we were awarded a grant (not for the full amount requested, but we’re thankful nonetheless)!

Once we decided on a walk-in freezer, we built the frame for the concrete pad and awaited the arrival of the freezer panels. The concrete was poured on a beautiful dry & warm November day. When the freezer panels arrived, the weather had taken a turn for the worse; high winds blew the remaining leaves onto the newly hardened concrete and then a front of thunderstorms rolled on through. Panels and compressor (all used to the elements) survived the storm, and this week, with a perfect sunny day and almost no wind, Wes and Dan set to work to erect the freezer. Just like an erector set (anyone remember that overly complicated toy??), the pieces were “snapped” together, and the freezer began to take shape. The compressor will be installed next week, just in time to start moving chevre from our overstuffed chest freezers. While the creamery has lost its view of the farm, we can always paint a mural to keep the cheese makers happy while they wash all those dishes.

Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery’s Cheeses in the Winners’ Circle

We are pleased to announce that our “fleur du la prairie” and “pelota roja” are cheese finalists in the “Good Food Awards,” a national artisan foods competition. While we await the final list of "winners," you can celebrate these delicious cheeses with us. We still have some lovely ripe & gooey fleur du la prairie that we'll be bringing to the farmers' market. Pelota Roja is plentiful and is perfect for serving with a tart jam or shaving it over some roasted root veggies.


Our cheeses and gift boxes make the perfect gifts for the holidays

It’s not too late to start thinking about holiday gifts. We now have several NEW curated collections of cheese, charcuterie and accompaniments for holiday gift giving. We’re also stocking up on PFFC merch: t-shirts, sweatshirts, tea towels, aprons and goat milk soap.

Not only can you order for shipping or farm pick up, but we can also accommodate larger business orders. If you would like to discuss a gift box for your favorite customers or clients, please email us at prairiefruits@gmail.com We offer several price options too!

NEW WINTER FARMERS’ MARKET

Starting November 7th and running every Saturday until December 19th, we’ll be selling our products (safely with masks and social distancing enforced) from 8-11 am. We will be located just inside the south entrance to Lincoln Square Mall (next to Stango Restaurant). This is a farmers and food only market (no crafts). We are thankful to The Land Connection for hosting this market. PLEASE come out and support your farmers! There is a still a lot of great local food to be had in this community.

Here’s the cheese line up for this weekend:

NEW ITEM: Mixed milk (cow-goat) plain yogurt (Quart size only) $7—LIMITED this week; more on the way for next weekend.

Add on: Girl & the Goat-ceries blueberry refrigerator jam ($4/ 4-oz. jar)

Fresh Chevre $8/each

--plain

--herbs de Provence

--cracked peppercorn

***Seasonal Chevre Flavor: roasted garlic (Blue Moon Farm) $9--LIMITED

We are transitioning from goat milk only to mix-milk bloomies. All Goat Bloomies are Buy 1, get a second at 50% off (Angel Food and Fleur du la Prairie only)

Angel Food: our “crottin” style bloomy-petite but loaded with delicious goat tang! Nice ‘n ripe & gooey$9/each

Fleur du la Prairie: Our delicate bloomy with dried herbs and edible flowers—this batch is ripe & gooey with lovely herbal notes! $11 GOOD FOOD AWARDS CHEESE FINALIST!

Snow Fog: mixed milk camembert—Think buttered mushroom! Need I say more? Check out the first batch of the season! $10/round

Midnight Eclipse: mixed milk bloomy with ash rind (similar to black goat with buttery notes from the cow milk) $10/round

Blushing Goat-washed rind goat milk cheese, washed with bourbon-peach kombucha beer; this batch is aging beautifully with slightly gooey edges, and it’s loaded with great umami flavor $8/triangles—LAST of the SEASON—VERY LIMITED

Goat Milk Feta—aged in whey brine, tangy with a creamy-crumbly texture-PERFECT for fall salads or crumble over roasted beets or a hot bowl of stew! LAST BATCH OF THE SEASON, SO GRAB A TUB WHILE THEY LAST $7/each

Pelota Roja—raw milk “Manchego style” hard cheese with a guajillo chile-olive oil rub on the rind $7/wedge-consider shaving this cheese over grilled zucchini or eggplant! Shave it on a wilted salad of fall greens in place of parmesan cheese; grate it over roasted beets or cauliflower. Try using in a local corn-meal polenta! GOOD FOOD AWARDS CHEESE FINALIST!

We’ll be bringing some special house-made treats to the market too:

--Goat cheese truffles with cracked pepper chevre

--pecan brittle made with pecans from Voss Orchard

--spiced and cinnamon sugar pecans from Voss Orchard

ORDERING FROM OUR ON-LINE STORE

If you’re not able to buy our cheeses in person at the farmers’ market or during our farm open hours, you can always order online for on-farm pick up or shipping. If you order for pick up by 10 AM Saturday, you can pick up from 1-4 pm either Saturday or Sunday.

Gelato pints are available for farm pick up ONLY- flavors this weekend include: NEW Seasonal Flavors: Pumpkin Spice AND Local Grape-Champagne Sorbetto, PLUS Vanilla, Chocolate, Salted Caramel Swirl, Pure Pistachio, Anise Hyssop, and Nectarine Sorbetto. Mexican Coffee and Masala Chai added to the list for in-store pick up.

We ship on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week, 1-2-day ground ($20 shipping/handling) for most of the Midwest and 2nd-Day Air for other areas of the country ($35/shipping & handling).


There are also lots of retail establishments throughout central IL and the Chicagoland area that carry our cheeses. If you don’t find our cheeses in your favorite store, ask them to contact us, so we can get our cheeses to you!


Farm Open Hours and Offerings


The farm will continue to be open through December 20th BOTH Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 pm each day.

During our weekend open hours from 1-4 pm, you can peruse our farm store, enjoy a cup of gelato, or order a cheese board with wine/beer/other beverages to enjoy outside if the weather permits. We can also put together a cheese board to go if the weather is not suitable for outdoor enjoyment. You can visit with the goats and or take a walk around the farm. All visitors must wear masks and practice social distancing while visiting the farm.

We feature ALL OF OUR CHEESES as well as some from fellow farmstead creameries, an assortment of accompaniments (jams, pickles, fruit leathers, honey, nuts, crackers, baguette bread), as well as lots of great PFFC “merch” for sale during open hours. Ask about our Holiday Gift Box options too! We’d be happy to put one together for you during open hours.

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