On a cloudy rainy early Spring day we visited Georges Mill Farm Artisan Cheese on a Full Van Fun field trip!
Our first stop was to visit the newborn baby goats hiding from the rain (see the fun video here) and help Molly Kroiz, owner and artisan cheese maker of Georges Mill Farm, feed them. “Kids” were everywhere! We walked around the historic farm, which has been in their family since 1732 and got to explore the barn which houses their cheesemaking operations and their does. Georges Mill Farm sustainably raises their goats with high quality hay, grain, and forage. Molly and her crew seasonally produce a variety of goat cheeses including Dutchman’s Creek Chèvre, Catoctin, Calvary Camp Ash, Picnic Woods, Georges Mill Feta, Short Hill Mountain Tomme.
The barn is also a magical setting for barn dances and other special events they schedule throughout the year. In addition to goats, Georges Mill Farm also raises chicken (and soon pigs) who help consume the whey from cheesemaking and maintain the pasture.
After the tour we stopped by their 24-hour-a-day self serve honor system store to pick up some goat cheese and eggs for the road. Since it was just the beginning of their cheese season, we purchased some very, very fresh chevre that was creamy, tangy, and terrific along with some brightly colored eggs (you’ll see a picture of them with one of the questions) that had deep yellow yolks and flavor.
Georges Mill Farm Artisan Cheese Interview
Molly’s #8isEnoughQuestions interview is part of our Farm to Family Food Chain series with farmers, chefs, retailers, and more. Previous Farm to Family Food Chain interviews have included “Cooking Priest” Father Leo Patalinghug, Chef Fabio Viviani, Chef Marc Murphy and Jesse Straight from Whiffletree Farm. For this 8isEnoughQuestions interview, each question was written and asked by one of our Full Van Fun family members and answered directly by Molly Kroiz of Georges Mill Farm Artisan Cheese.
1. Since you started goat farming, what is the most important thing you have learned from caring for the goats and making goat cheese?
I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that goats have strong personalities and are difficult to boss around- its much easier to work around them by designing something they like than to force them to do something they don’t want to do. Keeping them happy and healthy is the most important job I have! If they aren’t happy and healthy they don’t produce good milk and then I can’t make cheese.
2. How does the process differ for each type of goat cheese you make at the farm?
The different types of cheese have quite different recipes and make procedures. I really like to make lactic style cheeses, which includes chevre and our 3 bloomy rind cheese. That family of cheese involves long, slow coagulation/ripening so the curd sits for 24 hours after we add the culture and rennet. Those cheeses have a very soft curd and are ladeled out after 24 hours to drain slowly in bags or molds. Most other types of cheese in the world, including our tomme and feta, are rennet style cheeses and the process all happens in a shorter time frame. So for both of those cheeses I add the culture, let it ripen for a short time (15-60 mins depending on the cheese), add the rennet and then about 45 minutes after that cut the curd. This curd is firmer and often gets stirred and heated slightly for varying amounts of time depending on the type of cheese. I also use different bacterial cultures for each cheese type that produce different flavors/characteristics specific to the cheese I’m making.
3. Would you name two of your baby goats Lucy and Luke?
All of our baby goats have names already this year- we often come up with a theme for naming and this year was the show Downton Abby so all the goats have names of characters from that show. But I’ll keep those in mind for next year!
4. What is your favorite kind of cheese to make?
My favorite kind of cheese to make are our bloomy rind cheeses, Catoctin and Cavalry Camp Ash. They are cheeses that have been traditionally made with goats milk in France for hundreds of years. I love to watch the mold that is their rind grow!
5. What other products do you make with goat milk other than goat cheese?
I mostly make cheese with our milk, but I also make some goats milk soap that I sell. For our own use we make ice cream in the summer, as well as custards, pudding, and smoothies.
6. Why are chicken eggs so many different colors when they are from the same kind of animal?
There are lots of different breeds of chickens, and some breeds lay different colored eggs. They all look different (different colors and feather patterns) and each breed lays a particular color of egg. We have about 10 different breeds and their egg colors are white, light brown, dark brown, medium brown, and blue/green. But they all come from chickens!
7. Growing up, did you always want to be a farmer and a cheesemaker?
Growing up I did want a farm, and for a while I wanted to be a vet, but in high school I decided I wanted to be a scientist. It took me a little while to figure out that I really wanted to make cheese and farm, I went to college and graduate school first and was a scientist for a while, but I’m glad I ended up here!
8. Does the giant scary goat go to the doctor’s office?
I think that you mean Saffire (shes the herd queen). Shes very healthy, but just like any animal sometimes our goats need to see a doctor. Luckily for us our doctor comes to the farm because it would be hard to bring a goat into a doctors office! Instead they bring the doctors office to us if one of the goats is sick- the vet has a truck that is full of tools and medicines.
Thank you Molly for a goaterrific #8isEnoughQuestions interview and stay tuned for our next #FarmtoFamilyFoodChain interview with Chef Justin Warner! Full Van Fun is all about families, parents and children together sharing farm to family food, epic travel, great music, and more. Whether it is stories like our contest for #KidstoParks Day on May 21, incredible destinations like Craters of the Moon, interviews with family friendly musicians like Grammy Award winning Danny Weinkauf of They Might Be Giants, or recipes like our Twisted Cinnamon bread, be sure to sign up for our mailing list and Follow Us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest so you don’t miss anything!