A cheese tasting class at a local school over ten years ago inspired the hearts of two young cheese lovers a dream to someday own a plot of land and create their own artisan cheese for a living. After years of saving toward their goal when the Amazing Acres Goat Cheese Dairy went for sale complete with recipes for creating the respectably admired goat cheese in Chester County, Pennsylvania,Will and Lynne Reid knew it was the right find for them.
Having worked in a variety of internet capacities over the years, Will now dedicates his time living his dream, producing the goat cheeses of the former owners who built their business through selling their specialties at local Farmers Markets, restaurants, and gourmet stores throughout the region.
In addition to continuing a full time job with a graphic design company where she works from home, Lynne’s charge in the couple’s developing cheese enterprise is in the care and milking of the goats. Starting out with just 6 Nubian goats and a half dozen young Saanen/Nubian crosses bred by 5 of the original 6 Nubians. Lynne begins each day cleaning out the barn stall before the morning milking which produces about 2 gallons of milk. The daily yield does not currently sustain all of their cheese production needs so the additional supply is purchased through a farm in Lancaster specifically licensed for raw goats milk.
With a mutual goal to expand the goatherd and develop the best goat cheeses in the area, Will’s first priority at the time is on mastering the techniques involved in the cheese making process and maintaining the brand excellence of the former owners. “At first I was worried I might lose customers if they thought the flavor of the cheese had changed,” said Will. “But, I didn’t lose any customers and I continue to get better in having a real feel for the process.” When asked about Will’s frequent order requests from area chefs for his cheeses he readily admits that this gives him the greates feeling of pride to see his cheeses featured on restaurant menus.
Will first began learning how to make their artisan scale cheese production at Amazing Acres Goat Dairy under the guidance of the former owners who have since retired to Maine but who are always willing to answer questions and offer advice as the Reid’s move forward in their long awaited life adventure. Will is now beginning his own recipe experimentation with a new cheese he is particularly excited about: the camenbrie. So far, the camenbrie has received terrific response from its taste testers but all new styles of cheese produced for market sale must first meet the regulatory requirements within the state of Pennsylvania.
Beginning the cheese making process, Mondays at Amazing Acres are Pasteurization Day after Will picks up the additionally needed raw goats milk out at the Misty Meadows Dairy. Back in the Cheese Room, he pours the goat’s milk into the shiny, sparkling clean thirty-five gallon stainless steel vat that functions as a double boiler during the pasteurization process both stirring and maintaining the temperature of 145 degrees. Once the milk reaches the pasteurization point Will tempers it down to a degree that he explains will contribute to developing a creamier taste in the cheese before the next step in the process when he adds the culture and vegetarian rennin. The mixture then rests at room temperature overnight leaving the coagulation process to develop into the curds and whey. On the following day Will ladles the curd into cheesecloth bags and allows them to dry out for another day. On the third day, the cheeses are ready to make and Will separates the batches that he makes into different types of cheeses each requiring a different technique and individual process, salting, flavoring, and molding before they are accordingly aged in refrigeration.
The Amazing Acres Farm continues producing their original artisanal brand of the plain tangy, mild bite chevre along with popular varieties of flavored chevre such as the cranberries or cracked black pepper. The fresh Fromagina cheese is interchangeable as ricotta or cottage cheese and Will claims he recently made a good cheesecake with his product. The other remaining favorites include the Baby Bloomer and The Sea Smoke which is a bloomy rind cheese layered with food grade ash. Perhaps it will not be long before Will’s newest recipe, the camenbrie, will be available at the local Farmers Markets and upscale specialty stores.
Will and Lynne enthusiastically look to the day when they can both be full time cheese makers, along with their desire to generate their own power on the farm. As they look back to the days when the farm was still a distant dream, the Reid’s plan on re-creating a large scale vegetable garden utilizing a variety of fresh vegetables and every bit of around two hundred pounds of tomatoes like they annually grew in their once home in Havertown. The couple both agree that their new life in the goat cheese business suits them well, “Living here on the farm is a good life” said Will, ” a quiet life, at this beautiful place, and we can still make a decent living.”
- For the Goat Cheese
- 6 ounces goat cheese, or as desired based on 1/4-1/2 inch slices
- 1 cup chopped/ ground pecans
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter, approximately
- 1-2 beaten eggs
- 3/4 pound of mixed spring greens
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)
- 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of coarse kosher salt, or to taste
- pinch of cracked black pepper
- Slice goat cheese 1/4 - 1/2 inch as desired, using a sharp serrated knife and wiping the knife clean after each slice to ensure clean even cuts.
- In a small bowl combine chopped pecans with brown sugar and cayenne. Whisk eggs into another small bowl. One slice of goat cheese at a time, dip first into the egg, then into the pecan mixture. Heat a non stick saute pan, add butter, set nut crusted goat cheese into the pan and let cook lightly before turning over with a spatula, a minute or two approximately. Once heated on both sides and butter is bubbling around cheese, remove and arrange on top of dressed spring salad.
- Whisk orange vinaigrette ingredients together, taste. Add salt and pepper and a little more extra virgin olive oil if desired. Toss with mixed spring greens. Top with golden pecan crusted goat cheese.