Thursday, August 6, 2009

Finally - A Visit to Ran-Cher Acres

As you know, I always get some "must haves" at the Halifax Saturday Farmers Market and top of the list is some fantastic goat cheese from Ran-Cher Acres. I don't know how many times I've promised to come by the farm and see the goats, but I finally made it yesterday.

The sun was shining and the day was perfect for a drive through the valley, passing wheat and corn fields, plus lots more. They don't call Route 1 "The Harvest Route" for nothing! The flowers for zucchini, squash and cucumbers, and first hint of apples on the perfectly lined orchards could all be seen from the road. But I digress. I was on a mission to see goats and learn about cheese making.

The goats are all so cute and so curious. One of these days, I must visit with my grandsons...of course, they'll want to take one home, I'm sure. My favorite buck (or as we used to call them in the olden days...billy goat) - top of post - has that very distinctive punk "just got out of bed" look. And did you know that each goat has his/her own special look?

This milking goat was so calm and regal, I just had to capture her. In all there are at least 150 goats on the farm - 72 milking, 10 bucks for breeding, and 70 kids. That's Randy, below, giving the kids an extra treat of hay. Most of them were too busy eating to check us out.

I arrived way too late to actually capture the milking process...that happens at around 7am. But I did get to see some of the cheese and yoghurt making. The process usually takes two days from start to finish...

Here's the "recipe" for making my favorite soft goat cheese, just in case you want to make your own....
Have your own goats handy so that the milk to cheese process starts with very fresh milk (I'm talking about hours here) 1 batch: 200 liters/quarts of goat's milk makes 171 containers (170g/6oz). I didn't even ask about how much culture and rennet...sorry!
Pasteurize in giant stainless steel vats at 185 degrees F for about 1.5 hours;
Let it cool to 110 degrees F
Add culture and rennet and let it drain in special bags overnight and set
Two options...fill the circular molds or cut into squares, easier for mashing in ...oops, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Cut the tubular mold into circles and leave plain, (that's as much of Cheryl - Randy's better half, as I got)
or press them into a mixture of coarsely crushed peppercorns and garlic (this one is a favorite of many of the better restaurants in NS. In fact, one Halifax chef (who shall remain nameless) who spends some time in Newfoundland every year, brings a suitcase full whenever he heads up there.
Third option....mash up those squares of drained cheese and add some dried herbs and spices.
Here are some of my favorite uses for the creamy goat cheese....cayenne & garlic which is fantastic with pasta, like Spicy Sacchettini with Arugula & Pancetta or added to eggs as they're being scrambled.
Herbes de Provence and Italian Herbs served with a baguette, flipping through foodie magazines is a perfect Saturday afternoon. (Their gouda is pretty awesome too).
How about some crumbled feta on a simple green salad? I also thinly slice some of the spiced gouda for my Salade Nicoise.
And the yoghurt...obviously fantastic with fresh fruit (lots of U-pik opportunities in the valley), but what about Sharron's favorite...MUSH?

Not up for making your own cheese or're not alone. But if you do happen to be around Nova Scotia, you can find some of Randy & Cheryl's awesome Ran-Cher Acres cheeses at several farmers' markets - in Halifax, Hubbards, Berwick, Middleton; lots of wonderful restaurants around the province and there's always Pete's Frootique in downtown Halifax and in Bedford. And if you don't happen to be lucky enough to live or visit in Nova Scotia, please support your local farmers and cheese makers.

This is this week's spotlight on fantastic local Nova Scotian food producers. To find out what's going on in your neck of the woods and how to do your part, visit the EatRealEatLocal website.

Hellmann's will donate 25 cents for every time you talk about real food on blogs, in emails, twitter or facebook. Just add #realfood . Hopefully they'll be donating $25,ooo to the Evergreen Foundation by the end of September.


Rachel said...

Thank you for such a lovely tour of this goat farm. I enjoyed the cheesemaking virtual tour.

UPrinting said...

I love cheese! Actually, I don't know anyone who doesn't like cheese :) Thanks for the virtual cheese-making tour, I really enjoyed reading through it.

Anonymous said...

What interesting photos. That must have been quite a time.

Please stop by blog for a little something.

Cheese Products said...

I enjoyed each word & pic of your post. The Goats looked so healthy & charming with the lovely goatee beard & of course the cheese making & the treat.

Ruth Daniels said...

Thanks all for dropping by. It was a fun day with Randy, Cheryl and the goats.

Unknown said...

Great site. My wife and I visited Ran-cher cheese this past May and video taped our visit. We have used parts of it to enter the video contest. please go to the site, see our video and vote for the Grand Fromage on Nova Scotia.
Christie (The Grand Fromage)

Anonymous said...

Those goats are smiling! I swear to god those goats are smiling!!!

Ruth Daniels said...

You'd be smiling too if you saw how well they are cared for.