Sunday, September 18, 2022

Northern New York Produces the Best Milk and Cheese in the State 

The dairy community in New York is comprised of both large dairy operations and small, family run farms, as well as processing facilities that range in type and size from trans-national food processing conglomerates to small, artisanal dairy-product-makers.

The dairy industry is a vital part of the State’s economy and its leading agricultural sector. Our nearly 3,600 dairy producers supply more than 15-billion pounds of milk annually, accounting for about one-half of New York’s total agricultural income and making New York the nation’s fourth largest dairy state.

What’s more, our producers and processors contribute significantly to local economies and to the vitality of local communities. And the milk and milk-products they produce are consistently top-notch.

Stewart’s Shops has the Best Milk in New York:

According to Cornell University’s Department of Food Science, Stewart’s Shops sells the best milk in New York State. On September 1st, the family- and employee-owned company was honored with gold, at the 2022 Dairy Products Competition, during the Dairy Day celebration at The Great New York State Fair. The University initiated the awards program in 1997, as part of Cornell’s New York State Milk Quality Improvement Program, which serves as the state’s official judging group.

The key to producing prize-winning milk is freshness. And Stewart’s, which operates more than 350 shops across New York and southern Vermont and employs more than 4,500 people, guarantees that the milk at all of their convenience stores is picked up daily from, and sold to consumers within days of leaving, the farms producing it.

According to Cornell University’s Department of Food Science, Stewart’s Shops sells the best milk in New York State. Photo Credit: Stewart’s Shops.

Vertical integration from the farm to their stores to your table, allows Stewart’s to offer the highest-quality milk possible, by avoiding the ultra-high temperature (UHT; 280°F / 138°C) process used by most larger-scale milk distributors. The UHT process allows milk to remain shelf-stable for up to six months, but also causes milk to lose a lot of its natural flavor and goodness.

Pasteurization is a conventional disinfection method. The high temperatures destroy harmful microbes, such as bacteria and viruses. Stewart’s Shops milk is pasteurized for safety in the traditional way (161°F / 72°C), at the peak of freshness.


New York Cheese – Cabot Creamery Cooperative is the Grand Champion:

Cabot Creamery Cooperative’s Grand Champion Prize Winning Horseradish Cheddar. Photo Credit: Cabot Creamery.

Dairy Day at the State Fair also featured awards for cheese products from New York State certified cheese processors. And Cabot Creamery Cooperative took 1st Place awards for both their Sharp Cheddar and their New York Extra Sharp Cheddar, which received an Award of Excellence, as well.

Cabot Creamery Cooperative also earned the title of Grand Champion for their Horseradish Cheddar; a cheese the Cooperative describes as a ‘skillfully-blended, lactose-free cheese that loves to be melted on an old-fashioned hamburger or served with gourmet cranberry chutney. Perhaps the simplest way to enjoy it is layered on a ham sandwich.’


Meier’s Artisan Cheese Wins Big:

At this year’s Dairy Products Competition, Meier’s Artisan Pepper Flavored Cheese won gold in the Farmstead Open Class. Meier’s Smoked Cheddar took silver. And their Beer Mustard Flavored Cheese won an Award of Excellence. Meier Alpine Style Cheese took gold in the Farmstead/Artisan Cow’s Milk Hard Cheese Class.

Meir’s Artisanal cheese is handmade cheese produced in limited quantities by skilled craftspersons using only the highest-quality ingredients and traditional methods. Photo Credit: Meier’s Artisanal Cheese.

Artisanal cheese is handmade cheese produced in limited quantities, by skilled craftspersons, using only the highest-quality ingredients and traditional methods. And Daniel Meier Sr. is a true aficionado; an artisan cheesemaker who knows cheeses and enjoys bringing old world flavor to modern cheese-lovers.

Since 2011, Dan Meier has carefully overseen every aspect of cheese-making at Meier’s Artisan Cheese, in Fort Covington; a dairy farm and artisan cheese plant that maintains the highest standards for making superior cheeses. His focus has always been on quality, not quantity.

Dan grew up in Switzerland. And he learned his craft in the village of Geltwil, an agricultural community in the northern part of that country. When he came to New York’s North Country, he brought his knowledge of cheese-making with him. He’s proud to be the proprietor of a small, family-owned and operated cheese plant that uses only the milk from his family’s herd of Holstein and Jersey cows to craft award-winning, high-quality cheese.

Meier’s Artisan Cheese is an Adirondack Harvest member-farm. Adirondack Harvest is a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County and is funded in part by membership dues, private donations, county funding, and state and federal grants.


Milk is Good for You:

Cow’s milk is loaded with nutrition. One cup (8 ounces) of 2% cow’s milk contains 8 grams of protein (about 1/3 of an adult’s daily protein requirement) along with 4 grams of fat and 12 grams of carbohydrates. It’s also a healthy source of calcium, which helps keep your bones strong; vitamin B12, which plays an essential role in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function, and the production of DNA (the molecules inside cells that carry genetic information); and potassium, an essential mineral that has a very important role in the regulation of blood pressure and the function of muscles and nerves.


Photo at top: Northern New York produces world-class dairy products. Photo Credit: Great New York State Fair.


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Richard Gast is a retired Extension Program Educator and has been contracted by Cornell Cooperative Extension Franklin County to continue his informative and thought provoking articles.

6 Responses

  1. Joan Grabe says:

    Blue Pepper Farm sheep’s milk Maple Yogurt – Yum !

  2. Ginny Wickersham says:

    You should include Nettle Meadow and Farm in Lake Lucerne. They have the best goat cheese ever!

  3. Pat B says:

    Missing from this list is King Brothers in Schuylerville winning 3 gold awards. One for Fluid Milk category for Small Processes, another for Chocolate Milk category for dairies of all sizes. It also won a gold award in the Flavored Yogurt category.
    Oh, and Dygert Farms in Palatine Bridge came in 2nd behind Stewarts for best milk in the state. Note that the Dygert family farm is much smaller than Stewart’s. To achieve an award like this is truly an accomplishment!

  4. Stephen Daniels says:

    I wonder why here in New York we can buy raw milk cheese, but not raw milk?

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