The Cream of the Crop: Amish Country in NE Michigan

Dairy, Find Local Food, Molly Stepanski

Michigan has long been an epicenter of Amish settlement, with the first establishments dating back to 1895. Today, Michigan’s Amish population numbers approximately 11,000, with the state’s 86 church districts strewn over 35 communities across the state. One of the oldest of these settlements is in Mio, Oscoda County. Remnants of Mio’s logging industry left this land perforated by stumps. But, the original Amish community at Mio was founded in 1900 by Ohioan pioneers that used this to their advantage. According to historian David Luthy, “Few, if any settlements grew as rapidly as did the one in Oscoda County.” Luthy say this is because “local land agents attracted both Old Order Amish and more progressive Amish-Mennonites” to a region flushed with land available for $2-5/acre.

Pioneer Milkmaid at Van Hoosen Farm

Annette Kingsbury, Edible WOW, Find Local Food, Learn More, Southeast Michigan

A fierce battle is being waged today over the pros and cons of pasteurized milk. But in the early decades of the 20th century, improvements that could bring safer cows’ milk to market couldn’t come fast enough. One of the farms leading the way was located in Avon Township, now known as Rochester Hills. It was owned and managed by Sarah Van Hoosen Jones, a pioneer dairy farmer in Michigan.

An Ode to Dairy

Drinks, Emma Beauchamp, Find Local Food, Recipes, Southeast Michigan, Specialty Producers

When was the last time you truly appreciated the milk in your fridge? Do you know where it comes from and how the cows were treated? Sure, milk is good on cereal and with chocolate chip cookies, but what about all of the other great things it can be become?

This week, I stocked up on all sorts of delicious dairy from Michigan Dairy Farms, specifically Calder Dairy and Guernsey Dairy. Calder Dairy of Lincoln Park, MI has been around since 1946. To this day they still deliver straight to people’s home. Guernsey Dairy of Northville, MI is committed to providing the same great products that they have since 1940. Both of these local milk producers provide a wide array of products perfect for drinking or creating with.

I bought heavy whipping cream, buttermilk, natural milk (creamline or non-homogenized). From there, I marveled at the possibilities that can be done with these ingredients.

Here are some easy links to follow for great ways to use dairy: mascarpone, tiramisuricotta, a ricotta berry cake, chocolate pudding and whipped cream.

I didn’t get a chance to make it, but Butter is also super easy to make. Check out this fun video from my favorite Test Kitchen Manager at Bon Appetit magazine on how to make cultured butter.

Sure, mascarpone, ricotta, and butter can all easily be bought. But there is a sense of satisfaction that comes with making it yourself. Plus, when you make your own, you can often save money in doing so. Making 2 cups of Mascarpone cost me $3.50 — I’ve seen it between $3-8.50 per cup!

Copy of IMG_4483Here’s how I made Mascarpone cheese:

Mascarpone is a super rich soft cheese, often used in tiramisu and cheesecake recipes. It is made out of only two ingredients, heavy whipping cream and a citric acid, like lemon juice.

Copy of IMG_4492I slowly brought 2 cups of heavy cream to 180 degrees Fahrenheit and kept it there for about 3 minutes. Then, I added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. I kept it at 180 for another 3 minutes. Turned off the heat and stepped away for 30 minutes.  

I lined a strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and carefully poured the cream mixture into the bowl and let it strain overnight.

Voila! Mascarpone cheese. I didn’t have the patience to make tiramisu before trying it, so I slathered it on toast with some homemade raspberry jam. (Is my millennial showing?)

What are you planning on making?

Emma Beauchamp is the Communications Manager for TLD. She enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and cooking for other people. Contact her at emma@localdifference.org