Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sustainable Saturday - Say Cheese! Say Dexter!

For several years, the artisan cheese producers in upstate New York have attempted to establish a Cheese Trail.  New York wineries have the Wine Trail.  Why not a Cheese Trail in conjunction with the Wine Trail?  The combination is natural.  I'm not sure any other wine making area has created something like this (if they have, could you let me know?)

This year the cheese makers on the Trail will have four open house weekends.

The next "Cheese Trail" open house will be the Saturday and Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend.

One of the participants in May's Cheese Trail is a cheese maker called the Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery.  This cheese maker is doing something unique in the Western Hemisphere - making Kefir Cheese from Dexter milk. 

The Dexter breed, originating in Ireland, is an ideal breed for the small farmstead.  They are small, friendly, efficient and dual purpose - milk and meat.  The Dexters we saw back in 2009 when visiting the Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery were indeed friendly.

What is kefir?  It is not yogurt, although it is a cultured milk product. Many people attest to its health benefits although I personally do not eat it.  (The Kefir cheese, though, was definitely unique - in a good way.)

There are also a number of goat dairies on the Trail.  I miss the goat milk ice cream one of them, Side Hill Acres, used to have available for sale.  I only had it once, but the memory will live on for years.  Side Hill also sells kefir.

 Part of the spirit of sustainable agriculture is to attempt to buy local whenever possible.  I would ask you to buy from your local farmers whenever possible - at a local farmers market, on the farm (if possible) or even at one of the increasing number of supermarkets who are purchasing from local farmers.

If you do live in upstate New York - please find time to visit these local cheese producers.  You'll be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

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