Wow, I have lots to talk about this week. I'll try to bold key points so you can scan through as you like.
This week highlights our amazing Berkshire pork via a thick cut pork loin chop. These boneless chops are cut about 1.5 inches thick, and each pack includes 2 chops ranging from 1 to 1.5 lbs per package. Extra chops should be available at the back of the truck for $6 per lb.
Why are these chops so amazing? Mostly because our farmers do it right. First, these hogs are a heritage breed known as a Berkshire. They are prized for their intramuscular marbling and darker meat color. These hogs live outside their entire lives, hence the term pasture raised (like the chickens). They dine on what they forage in the woods, as well as a nutrient rich, locally milled non-gmo grain mixture. Even the way we deworm the hogs is with an organic product known as diatomaceous earth. This ensures that you have the cleanest possible product.
A nice compliment to the pork this week is one bunch of collard greens and a large bulb of kohlrabi. The kohlrabi, which tends to surprise a lot of first time Fresh Forkers, is a delicious vegetable. Peel it deep with a pairing knife and shave it for a fresh salad (like coleslaw), or cube it and roast it to bring out the sugars. I think you will find it quite enjoyable.
Mike and Pete Mitchell at Mitchell's Ice Cream have been kind enough to offer our staff a plant tour and ice cream social at their new Ohio City headquarters. This is in exchange for the help we have been lending them recently in sourcing local rhubarb, berries, and eggs. We are very excited about this.
To kill two birds with one stone, I'm also using tomorrow afternoon to do dairy training with the staff- we will taste and discuss milk, yogurt, and cheeses. This week, if you have any questions about our wonderful selection of cheeses, most all of the team members will be able to better assist you. Here are some quick notes about our cheeses:
Soft, buttery, and mild - Try the camembert or Havarti from Mayfield Road Creamery. For something with a bit more funk, try the Charloe from Canal Junction Creamery. We will have this in the bag in mid-July.
Firmer, stronger, and aged. On the mild side of the spectrum, we have a wonderful gouda from Mayfield Road Creamery (and a chipotle gouda as well). In the middle, we have a firm, sharp cheddar from Middlefield Original Cheese Coop and a Gruyere from Canal Junction Farmstead Creamery. On the sharpest end of the spectrum, we have the Hulls Trace Aged Cheddar from Blue Jacket Creamery that is flaky, pungent, and has a full mouth feel. Also on the strong side is the Burr Oak (parmesan style) and Flat Rock (abundance style) from Canal Junction Creamery. Those are two of my favorite cheeses based on their nutty, mushroomy type notes.
One of the strongest cheeses we have is a goat gouda from Paint Valley Creamery. Gouda isn't the best way to describe this cheese. It is excellent for snacking, but also fantastic for cooking. We've used it all winter long at various classes, including it being our preferred cheese for salads, to use in French onion soup on a crostini, and to add depth of flavor to mac and cheese, cheese sauces, and gratins.
Unusual and Creative. Try the Siberian Night Beer Cheese or Smoked Gouda from Mayfield Road Creamery. The smoked gouda is a cold smoked, softer version of her gouda. The smoke is very forward in it. The Siberian night is a tomme style - young, firm, and nutty on the inside. The rind has been hand washed with Thirsty Dog Siberian IPA (from Akron) daily for a month before finishing the cheese. This adds a malty, sweet component to the rind.
For those looking for something goaty, try the flavored chevres from Mackenzie Creamery, including the Sweet Fire (raspberry habanera) and the Cognac Fig (winner of the American Cheese Society 1st place award).
About the creameries. It isn't fair for me to try to summarize the creameries in a few sentences, but I'll try:
Blue Jacket Dairy: Angel is a fantastic cheese maker and Jim has dairy in his blood. This couple makes fantastic cheeses in Bellefontaine OH by starting with great milk, adding experience and talent, and finishing with an attention to detail. Angel has some of the best cheeses in Ohio, including her Hulls Trace Aged Cheddar and Ludlow (aged goat cheese). She is also the lady who offers the fantastic cheese curds that you guys gobble up each week at the back of the truck.
Canal Junction Farmstead Cheeses: This family farm in Defiance OH is pioneering European dairy genetics in Ohio. Brian has introduced Normandy genetics to his Jersey and Guernsey cows. This has helped them build hardiness and efficiency on grass while keeping a very rich, flavorful milk. He has trained in Ireland and Vermont for cheese making. His cheeses include the charloe, burr oak parm, Wabash gruyere, and flat rock abundance.
Mackenzie Creamery: Jean is in love with her cheeses - as are the rest of us. She takes pride in what she makes and I can certainly say she has one of the best palates for cheese. This is obvious based on the number of awards she has won over the years, including recently the 1st place award for her cognac fig chevre at the American Cheese Society competition. We also offer her sweet fire regularly and rotate other chevres through at times.
Mayfield Road Creamery: Susan and Kevin Morris operate a 5th generation family farm in Orwell and are our original cheese makers. Our customers have fallen in love with their buttery havarti, firm and nutty gouda, and fresh and creamy camembert. I've learned most of my knowledge about cheese making from Susan and can certainly say that she knows her craft, has a very consistent product, and isn't willing to release a new product until it is absolutely perfect. You'll truly appreciate the quality and variety she offers in her cheeses. Her cheeses include havarti, gouda, flavored goudas, camembert, and beer cheese.
Paint Valley Creamery (Wholesome Valley Farm): The newest creamery to Fresh Fork Market is Paint Valley Creamery from Wilmot OH. These are the same guys who do the grass-grazed guernseys for the Guernsey whole milk. They also have goats, from which they make their aged goat goada. Their latest cheese is a mild mozzarella that melts great on your pizza and sandwiches.
MILK (yes, that's me shouting in excitement)
Wow, I feel like I'm writing a lot today. I'll be quick and redirect to some older posts. But in short, we had a lot of milk left over last week and it will be on sale this week for $3 per half gallon or 2 for $5 to get everyone to try it (not available for preorder due to the short dates). I recommend whole milk, but if you aren't there yet, maybe you'll change your mind after reading my blog posts from the past:
More about our milks: http://freshforkmarket.com/milk/
The summary: Our milks are all from grass grazed, brown cattle. We offer skim, 2%, and whole, and two different brands.
The basic milk nerd summary is that not all fat is created equal as the fat from grass grazed mammals is higher in conjugated linoleic acid, a healthy fatty acid found in ruminant mammals (like beef and goats and sheep). This fat is about 500% more prevalent in grass fed animals compared to grain fed, and it has research suggesting that boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation. It is also correlated with a healthy weight and muscle composition.
The other summarizing points are that homogenization and pasteurization have affected how our bodies digest milk. Unfortunately, we have to pasteurize in Ohio, but homogenization is optional. Our milks are non-homogonized.
Finally, the type of cattle and genetics are important, as demonstrated by the A2A2 beta casin found in our Golden Guernsey milk. This makes it easier for some folks to digest milk.