At Atwater’s we strive to utilize and offer locally sourced foods and materials as often as possible. Fostering strong relationships with local purveyors helps build stronger communities and customer loyalty. Which is why we’re extremely excited to tell you about some of the newest items that have arrived directly from the farmer’s to our stores.
The most recent addition to our shelves is a cheddar from Singing Meadow Farm. The farm, only 40 miles from Belvedere Square, is nestled in the unassuming Airville community of Southeast Pennsylvania and is run by Benjamin Stoltzfus, an Amish farmer, his son Henry, and their dog. Together they produce some of the finest cheddar and colby cheeses available.
The cheddar we have was aged over one year following a precise process originally conceived in the town of Cheddar, England. The cows are milked at the peak of the spring grass, yielding the highest quality milk. The raw whole milk is then left to ripen, a necessary step to prepare for coagulation. Sufficiently ripe, the milk is set with the addition of rennet (a complex of enzymes) and kept at a warm temperature while the mixture forms curds. Once the curd has been cut, cooked, and drained the process of “cheddaring” begins.
Cheddaring begins by cutting the curds into loaves and flipping them every ten minutes. As they are turned the farmer will begin stacking the loaves which loosens them for the milling process. The loaves are cut into smaller pieces that fit in the mill and are constantly stirred to avoid re-matting. Salt is added during the milling which removes some of the residual whey from the cheese in addition to lowering its moisture content. Finally, the milled cheese is carefully packed into moulds (ours arrived in 25 pound rounds) and then left to age. Benjamin is truly a master at his work and a year of patience has culminated into one incredible cheese. As you read this Benjamin will be preparing to craft next year’s batch of aged cheddar, slightly later than last year as our weather has pushed the peak of the spring grass back two weeks.
We have also just received two pigs from One Straw Farm! Since 1983 Drew and Joan Norman have been supplying the area with quality produce and meat through restaurants, wholesalers, their CSA program, and local farmers’ markets. Ned has been friends with the Normans since long before Atwater’s opened! Through that relationship we’re lucky to get 2 of their pasture-raised pigs. These Berkshire pigs, a breed renowned for the pork’s flavor and tenderness, were humanely raised and fed on only non-genetically modified feed. At over two hundred pounds hanging weight each, we’re be well stocked on pork for quite awhile.
Look for Singing Meadow Farm’s cheddar on our shelves at Belvedere Square and Catonsville. We will be using One Straw Farm’s pork in a variety of our different food offerings, we hope you get to try it and taste the quality for yourselves!