Thursday, November 3, 2011

Upinngil Farm in Gill, Massachusetts

Sorrel Hatch and her father, Cliff serving samples at a cheese tasting last winter

Raw milk, cheese, grass fed beef, strawberries, jams, whole grains (flour and wheat berries), beebalm and maple syrup are just a few of the main crops at this farm.

Cliff Hatch and his daughter, Sorrel keep their farm store open from 8am until 7pm, every day of the week year round.  They carry a wide variety of local food products including their own (partially listed above).  Of course, some items are seasonal, but that adds to the excitement of never knowing what you'll find.

Upinngil is located "up in Gill," a small town with one retail establishment, the Gill Tavern, just up the road.  It seems amazing that one of the best restaurants in Franklin County is only a few miles from one of the best farm stores.  The result is a scenic road trip worth taking any time of the year (and bring your big appetite).  Directions at their website:

Cliff installed a model train in the store.  It goes around the ceiling on a continuous timer, much to the delight of young shoppers (and everyone else).

The Hatch's are currently milking 12 Ayrshires, a Scottish breed well suited to the New England climate (pronounced Ash-ir).  The cows are milked year round.  In the summer they graze in the organic pastures and in the winter they are fed local alfalfa, hay, haylage and corn silage.

Cliff chose Ayrshires because he was planning to make cheese and he knew their milk is well suited for that.  At the Upinngil website, they list some of the benefits of Ayrshire milk:

    Small, easily-digested fat molecules
    High in protein
    High in conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs)
    High in other omega 3s
    High in vitamins A, D, and E
    Makes excellent cheeses, yogurt, kefir, and butter
Their raw milk is packaged in returnable half gallon bottles and in gallon, half gallon and quart plastic containers.  

The bar prevents this cow from kicking.

Cliff makes a variety of cheeses:
Upingillar (a Fontina type), Ayrshire Cheddar (one of his signature cheeses), Havarti, Feta and Bleu.  At holiday time, he sometimes sells a limited amount of his special Dorset Bleu with a mild, smooth flavor (to die for!).

He gives popular cheese making workshops from time to time.  So, if you see one listed, sign up quickly because they always fill up fast.  Note:  The next one will be Saturday, November 19th from 8am-5pm on "Making Dipped Curds and Italian Cheeses" (which will include Parmesan and Swiss, as well as others).  

He has also written 4 pamphlets to help the home cheese maker and these are available (free) in the farm store:  Making Yoghurt, Making Butter, Making Ice Cream and Basic Cheese Making.

Cliff has been making cheese for 25 years - licensed to sell it for 5.  He credits Kathy Biss (from Scotland), the author of Practical Cheesemaking with teaching him to make cheese at a series of workshops she did in the US.  Cliff was making Feta the day I visited:

Cliff's milk tank holds 200 gallons but he never processes more than 60 gallons at a time,
(the amount his cheese kettle holds).

The press is just a handy surface where the curds can drain.
When he's pressing, he can put (2) 25 gallon molds in it at a time.

The Hatch's support many local food businesses through an organization they call Upinngil Community Growers.  They sell SideHill yogurt, for example, and Snow's Ice Cream.

Upinngil has a blog with lots of good information about the farm and farming in general - The Upinngil Farm Journal.  There is a section of it called Little Red Hen's Recipes with Whole Wheat Chocolate Almond Biscotti, Upinngil Real Pumpkin Pie, etc.  (It's always amazing when hard working farmers find the time to share!)

Upinngil Farm
411 Main Rd.
Gill, MA 

Cliff Hatch

Sorrel Hatch

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