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Putting the fruit back (sort of) in Prairie Fruits Farm

Farm News

The resilient and prolific Seckel pears have been a phoenix rising from the disheveled orchard “ashes” this summer. The trees seem immune to insect pests and disease so prevalent in the rest of the fruit trees. Even last year’s browsing orchard goats paid no interest in the pear trees or their bark, preferring the peaches and the apples instead. The fruit-laden limbs droop to the ground with the weight of so many little pears.


With the help of our farm volunteers, we have been harvesting them over the past couple of weeks, and this week, Wes broke out the cider press so we could make some pear cider. Our press relies on old-fashioned human power to turn the press and expel the mauve colored juice. The process is labor intensive, and it’s easier to justify when you’re faced with crates and crates of perfectly ripe fruit. After washing, sanitizing and sorting the little golden globes, they are placed in the hopper and coarse ground. Then the screw press takes over and the hand cranking begins. For every turn, the plate on top of the mound of ground fruit pushes downward, separating pulp from juice. The pears are golden greenish yellow, yet their juice is the most beautiful pale pink hue. The flavor is another thing all together: slightly sweet, slightly tart, the essence of the pear in liquid form. We will share it with our customers this weekend.


In true farmer fashion, we will celebrate “Labor Day” by working. Summer is on the wane, and breeding season is not too far off. The week’s thunderstorms breathed new life into our pastures and cover crops. The routines of the dairy take precedence over leisure-milking twice daily, cheese making and cheese tending require constant attention. There are rewards, however. Harvesting warm red tomatoes from the garden and slicing them beautifully on a plate with fresh herbs, good salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Sitting at the dining table watching the hummingbirds tank up on nectar from the feeder. Catching a glimpse of a migrating warbler enjoying the insects swarming in the fruit orchard.

 

Weekend Wine & Cheese Flights


Looking for something fun and out of the ordinary to do this holiday weekend? We have some great wines in our store, and we’re excited to share them with you alongside our cheeses. How does it work? Our staff will pick a white, a rose and a red to pair with three of our cheeses each weekend. We’ll serve the wine & cheese flight with a rustic baguette bread from Publican Quality Breads in Chicago or Potters Crackers. $25/person (must be 21 or older) gets you this amazing flight with some surprises every weekend. All of our wines come from wineries and vineyards using sustainable agriculture practices; most are organic and/or biodynamic and/or regenerative. Just ask our staff for the details if you’re curious.

No need to reserve; just ask for the flight when you come to the farm store.

 

Farm Open Hours

This weekend (and all weekends through the end of the year) we’re open 11-5 both Saturday and Sunday. Shop our farm store and sample some of our award-winning cheeses. The weather is looking gorgeous, especially summery on Saturday.

Enjoy a cheese and charcuterie board under our pavilion with a bottle of organic and/or biodynamic wine or local microbrew. We have some great new beers and hard ciders in the cooler. Want something cold and creamy? Try our delicious goat milk gelato! Come early and grab some yogurt, house-made granola and a little jar of farmstead honey for a healthy breakfast. Of course, there are lots of opportunity to engage with the goats—the mommas and the babies LOVE visitors. Come & play with the teenage goat girls--they are attention hounds and love to eat tree leaves or sorghum-Sudan grass (right next to their pen)!!

The secret ingredient to our amazing cheeses and gelato is our MILK! You too can experience our milk in its purest form! Our milk super fresh (usually less than one day old) and clean. We are permitted to sell raw milk from the farm (Illinois Dept. of Public Health). Curious what it tastes like? We will have samples for you to try-just ask.


If you don’t have time to peruse our farm store, but you need some milk or cheese or accompaniments, you can always order from our online store for pick up at the farm during weekend open hours. Just let us know if you’re picking up on Saturday or Sunday in the “NOTES” section (before checking out).



We’ve also got some great local products, including artisan jams, local honey, preserves and salamis. Check out the gorgeous eggs from fellow AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) certified eggs from Joyful Wren Farm. They are equally beautiful on the inside (bright orange means they are definitely eating grass) as well as the outside. I eat them every day!! New in the store, a great new selection of PFFC T-shirts.

NEW PRODUCTS ALERT:

  • fresh cheddar cheese curds from our friends in Nebraska--Dutch Girl Creamery--plain and dill-garlic

  • locally made hot sauces from Weird Meat Boyz

  • Seckel pears and fresh pear cider from the Prairie Fruits Farm orchard

  • organic garlic from Blue Moon Farm (yes, that's right-they are growing some produce this year)

The farm is open on weekends RAIN OR SHINE! We have ample seating inside our farm store if you want to stay and enjoy a cheese & charcuterie board. Our store is AIR-CONDITIONED!

 

Urbana’s Market at the Square


From 7-12 each Saturday, you can stock up on great produce, meats, eggs and of course PFFC cheeses. Shop the market this Saturday and snag some seasonal fruits. Last week, I noticed that apples and pears are eclipsing the peaches, and fall raspberries have arrived! Melons are still on the scene, which means it is time to make a melon-feta salad!! How about a Waldorf style salad with apples, local pecans (Voss Pecan Orchard will be at the market this Saturday) and fresh chevre? We are bringing some of our very own Seckel pears to the market, along with fresh-pressed pear cider. Slice the Seckel pears and use as a vehicle for the cheese. The tart and crunchy pear slice underlying some gooey little bloom or earthy black goat will blow your mind!!

Tomatoes, delicate cucumbers and sweetcorn are abundant, as well as summer squashes, crispy green beans and eggplants—cheese should definitely be on your list, and you can prepare simple dishes with what’s in season alongside our cheeses, especially our chevre and feta. How about lightly grilling a little bloom on the prairie or an angel food mini-brie and serving with crusty bread and local honey? How about one of our bloomies on a burger? Make the most of the holiday weekend by cooking with all the bounty that abounds at the farmers' market!


PLEASE NOTE: OUR LOCATION AT THE MARKET HAS CHANGED FROM YEARS’ PAST. WE ARE STILL LOCATED ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE MARKET, BUT WE ARE NEXT TO ILLINIOIS WILLOWS (AT THE SOUTH END OF AISLE TWO).


Here's the lineup of cheeses and dairy product you can expect to find in our farm store and at the farmers’ market:

  • Pelota Roja!!! Our raw goat’s milk “Spanish Style” cheese!! First batches of the season made with early spring milk. The flavor is sharp and nutty, the texture is firm, crumbly yet supple—perfect for shaving or grating. You can also just slice it and eat it with a big hunk of local salami and smear of local mustard. YUM YUM YUM!! Now that it’s sweetcorn season, try grating and blending with crumbled feta, smoked paprika and salt and slather over grilled sweetcorn. You will never eat corn any other way! 2021 Good Food Award Winner

  • Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper 2022 American Cheese Society 1st Place Medal!

  • Seasonal chevre flavor: Tomato chevre returns to the market and the farm store this weekend-made with dried Juliete romas from Blue Moon Farm. We still have a few blueberry chevre left too, so we'll bring those--limited supply so come early.

  • Mixed milk feta in whey brine-salad season is upon us. Try crumbling feta over grilled buttered sweetcorn with chili powder or smoked paprika (Mexican style)! How about a feta-melon salad---the combination of salt-savory with sweet is irresistible!

  • Little bloom on the prairie: Mixed milk camembert style- perfectly ripe this week—put this baby on burger and you’re set! Or... cut a wedge and put it on a seckel pear slice!!

  • Angel Food: mixed milk mini-brie—aging nicely, and perfect for enjoying with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil! Our answer to caprese salad! We’ve got some wedges of large-format Angel Food that we are selling with honey

  • Black Goat: All goat ash-ripened bloomy rind; young but still so good--especially with pears- 2021 NY International Cheese Competition Silver Medal Winner!

  • Goat milk Yogurt (both pints and quarts); we’ll also be selling some house-made granola and small jars of honey to go with the pint size yogurt if you’re looking for a healthy breakfast option.

  • Fruit-Yogurt Smoothies--smoothies are back-we'll have a "watermelon refresher," "peach" and "grape-blueberry" (very limited) I guarantee you if try the watermelon refresher, you won't regret it!!

  • Raw goat milk (half gallons or quarts)-farm store only

  • Seckel Pears-farm grown in the PFFC orchard-available at the farmers' market and our farm store

  • Pear cider-freshly pressed; available in pints and quarts-farmers' market and farm store

  • Organic garlic-Blue Moon Farm's renowned garlic--available at our farm store ONLY

Not local? No problem. We ship nationwide. You can order our cheeses and gift boxes from our online store.

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