As the third largest national producer, New York leads the country in the making of cottage cheese and Greek style yogurt, and is the third largest producer of cheese. At the top of all agricultural industry, dairy in New York employs 1.4 million dairy cattle on more than 6,000 dairy farms to produce 12 billion pounds of milk a year that is worth nearly $2 billion.
With such a large volume of dairy production, it’s not surprising that New York is home to an amazing array of great dairy products. Here are a few of the Consortium’s top picks.
If you’ve never tried Hudson Valley Fresh’s sour cream, it is well worth the indulgence. With a decadently thick, rich and creamy flavor, it is slightly tart but not overly acidic. Mixed with a little maple syrup or brown sugar it makes a perfect sauce for summer ripe fruit, as the base for panna cotta or even ice cream.
If you’re looking for creme fraiche, Ronny Brook Farm Dairy makes a rich, great tasting creme fraiche that is a little pricey but worth the expense. In the Hudson Valley look for Hudson Valley Fresh’s sour cream and Ronny Brook creme fraiche at Mother Earth’s Storehouse and Hannaford grocery stores.
As an on-the-go breakfast drink, drinkable yogurt has grown in popularity over the years with several national and local offerings including Ronny Brook Farm Dairy, Coach Farm and drinkable newcomer Tonje’s Farm Dairy.
Ronny Brook Farm Dairy was one of the first local dairy farms to pioneer a line of drinkable yogurt flavors. Today there are a dozen or so varieties, including banana, honey vanilla, strawberry and mango. Stand out flavors, in our opinion, include peach and blackberry.
With a pleasant goat’s milk finish, Coach Farm’s line of Yo-Goat drinkable yogurt is a bit lighter than Ronny Brook’s. Mango and raspberry flavors are especially delicious. All of Coach’s products are available on-line by mail order but be prepared to pay a bit extra for shipping.
Both Coach and Ronny Brook’s drinkable yogurts freeze and defrost well. Ronny Brook’s will defrost within a day or two but Coach’s might take as long as three to four days with a few icy chunks remaining.
Ronny Brook Farm Dairy, Coach Farm, Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, 3-Corner Field Farm, and the Argyle Cheese Farmer are all producing a variety of whole and reduced fat yogurts. Try The Argyle Cheese Farmer’s Greek style yogurt. It’s spreadably thick and rich with an intensely concentrated yogurt flavor. Our all time favorite whole milk yogurt is the Maple Vanilla flavor from Hawthorne Valley Farm but the Argyle Cheese Farmer’s cream top whole milk plain is a very close second. Both Hawthorne Valley Farm and the Argyle Cheese Farmer are producing quark, a soft cow’s milk cheese with a sour cream like consistency. Look for Hawthorne Valley quark at Mother Earth’s Storehouse. The Argyle Cheese Farmer sells quark at the Troy and Saratoga Farmers markets.
Ronny Brook Farm Dairy and the Battenkill Creamery both produce an exceptional line of ice cream flavors. Our favorite ice cream flavor of all time is the coconut from Ronny Brook Farm Dairy. Try the Battenkill Valley Creamery for Coffee and Chocolate flavors. Speaking of chocolate, the Battenkill Valley Creamery gets top vote for best chocolate milk. It is thick, rich and very much like melted chocolate ice cream. Meadowbrook Dairy is our second choice for chocolate milk.
There are hundreds of great cheeses in New York State. Here are a few of our top choices and a few more that are interesting:
Nettle Meadow Triple Cream, our all time favorite New York cheese. Kunik is very much like a really thick, cheese-flavored heavy cream or fondue, that’s been wrapped up in a sexy Camembert style rind.
Coach Farm’s Grating Stick One of the closest things we have found to a really hard cheese like Parmesan
3-Corner Field Farm Feta A classic sheep’s milk feta
Palentine Valley Dairy Great cheddar. The smoked cheddar is our second all time favorite cheese.
Harpersfield Cheese Great Tilsit style cheeses. Interesting flavors include raspberry and Lapsang Souchong.