Posts Tagged ‘raw milk feta goat cheese’
by David Bice
Redwood Hill Farm has been a family farm for over 45 years. It began in 1968 when our parents, Cynthia and Kenneth Bice (with then seven kids), moved from Los Angeles to Sonoma County and bought their very first goat named “Flopsy”. As a family and later under the leadership of oldest sister, Jennifer Bice, we have been making our cultured yogurt, kefir and artisan cheese for our goat milk loving customers since the early 1970’s. We invite you on a journey to follow our fresh goat milk as it travels from our Certified Humane® goat farm in Sebastopol, CA, to your neighborhood store.
The journey starts at dawn…
Scott Bice guides the Redwood Hill Farm herd head into the milking parlor where it all begins. Dairy goats are milked twice a day, at 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. An average milking goat will give 2,000 lbs. of milk in a year. Our top performing dairy goats, which are nationwide leaders in milk production, may give up to two tons of milk annually!
Our dairy does look forward to milking time. They are very social animals, and Farm Manager Scott Bice not only knows them by name but also is also quite aware of their different personalities. Aside from getting a pat from the herdsman, milking time is when the does enjoy their custom milled, protein-rich grain mix, which makes up about 25% of their diet; the remaining 75% consists of fresh forages, brush and hay.
We raise four different breeds of dairy goats on our farm, who in turn give us the best-tasting milk for our probiotic yogurt, kefir and artisan cheeses. Pictured here are Saanen dairy goats, a breed that originated in Switzerland. Compared to cow milk, goat milk contains higher levels of calcium, vitamin A, potassium and niacin.
Milking machines transport the fresh, raw goat milk through filters into our milk parlor’s holding tank, where it is immediately chilled and held at 38 to 40 degrees. Notice the “cream clouds” at the top. Goat milk, unlike cow milk, is “naturally homogenized,” which means that most of the fat globules are evenly dispersed throughout the milk.
Delivering the farm-fresh, raw goat milk to our creamery
Throughout the week, our fresh milk is transported to Redwood Hill Farm Creamery, located only four miles from the farm. Here, family member David Bice fills milk into the tanker for another load.
Enjoying the rural countryside of beautiful West Sonoma County is a perk for employees doing this farm chore.
In the receiving bay at our creamery, Alfredo Monter-Jacinto takes samples of the milk for quality testing. Because we make quite a bit of yogurt, kefir and cheese, we also receive milk from six additional Certified Humane® goat dairy farms.
Our passion: making specialty goat milk yogurt, kefir and cheese
In addition to yogurt and kefir, we make an assortment of handmade, artisan cheeses. We use raw goat milk to make Redwood Hill Farm’s gold medal-winning Raw Goat Milk Feta. Here, Owner and Cheesemaker, Jennifer Lynn Bice, and her cheese team stir the curds. Feta curds are then packed by hand into molds, brined in a natural sea salt solution, and aged from six months to a year—just as traditional feta has been made for centuries.
Depending on the style of cheese, our 3 to 5 ounce artisan rind-ripened or ‘soft-ripened’ cheeses are aged for about 14 days in cave-like, temperature- and humidity-controlled aging rooms. At just the right age, slightly before ripeness and flavor reach their optimum, the cheeses are wrapped and packed by hand and then sold to stores up and down the West Coast. By the time the cheese has made its journey and has reached our customers, the flavor should be fully developed.
By law in the United states, milk to make yogurt and kefir must be pasteurized, but there are different methods. We use the vat-pasteurization method, the gentlest for retaining a higher percentage of the milk’s natural enzymes. After pasteurization, specific cultures are added to the goat milk depending on whether we are making yogurt or kefir and depending on our production schedule for that day.
After the yogurt or kefir containers are filled with the warm cultured milk and sealed, they are stacked and delivered to our creamery’s hot room for fermentation. At this stage the liquid milk thickens or “sets” as the beneficial bacteria cultures rapidly multiply.
After 4-6 hours, and at just the right pH level, the yogurt or kefir is moved into the chilling room. This important step holds the pH at just the right level and stabilizes the delicate texture.
Our carefully packed cheese, yogurt or kefir is picked up by our distributors and delivered to natural and specialty food stores, cooperatives, as well as many natural food sections of conventional grocery stores in your area.
Everything we make is crafted with 100% Grade A whole goat milk. Fresh milk is the key to making the best-tasting goat milk yogurt, kefir and cheese. Thank you for joining us on our milk’s journey from our farm to your fridge!
The following recipe is from the Ceres Project’s “Nourishing Connections Cookbook”. Fresh and delicious because it’s made with Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Yogurt and Goat Milk Kefir, this dip pairs equally well with crackers or crudite!
“Nourishing Connections Cookbook” is available!
We have a copy at Redwood Hill and I find myself picking it up often when looking to be inspired for a creative nourishing meal or from the heartwarming writing on improving my own diet. The links & resource section are wonderful as well.