Cotton Hill Creamery has been producing fresh, artisanal cheese from Alpine goats in the hills of Middleburgh, New York since 2009.
Agriculture began with humans saving and planting seeds and keeping animals. Communities selected traits over generations based on the needs of the culture and landscape. These animals and plants were passed down through generations, continuously improving as mutual dependence between the culture and food deepened.
In this way food is cultural legacy – future generation’s inheritance, kept and passed on.
Merriam-Webster defines Heirloom and Heritage:
1: a piece of property that descends to the heir as an inseparable part of an inheritance of real property
2: something of special value handed on from one generation to another
3: a horticultural variety that has survived for several generations usually due to the efforts of private individuals
1: property that descends to an heir
2a: something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor : legacy, inheritance;
3: something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth : birthright <the nation’s heritage of tolerance>
How The Livestock Conservancy defines heritage breed:
Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by our forefathers. These are the breeds of a bygone era, before industrial agriculture became a mainstream practice. These breeds were carefully selected and bred over time to develop traits that made them well-adapted to the local environment and they thrived under farming practices and cultural conditions that are very different from those found in modern agriculture.
Traditional, historic breeds retain essential attributes for survival and self-sufficiency – fertility, foraging ability, longevity, maternal instincts, ability to mate naturally, and resistance to diseases and parasites.
Heritage animals once roamed the pastures of America’s pastoral landscape, but today these breeds are in danger of extinction. Modern agriculture has changed, causing many of these breeds to fall out of favor. Heritage breeds store a wealth of genetic resources that are important for our future and the future of our agricultural food system.
Seed saving and genetic selection has changed drastically over the past several decades. So fast that law, morality, and popular discourse are struggling to keep up with the pace of these changes. One aspect of these debates that Heritage Foods USA feels strongly about is sustaining lines of genetic diversity within the food system.
We believe these heritage breeds of livestock are a key to a more sustainable food system and as we say, we must “Eat them to save them”.
There is nothing like Akaushi/Angus Tenderloin to satisfy a hungry party. Our friend Ted shares his favorite additions to summer gatherings:
Ted: My approach is fairly simple, as I love the taste of the meat more than any flavoring or spice…
About 6-7 days prior to cooking I take the roast from the freezer and leave it in the refrigerator to defrost. After a couple of days I unwrap the cut and let it air on a rack set over a cookie sheet for 3-4 days. This will allow the surface to become firm. I flip over the small-ended fold back about 3” and secure that with a metal skewer.
The day I cook it I bring it up to a little less than room temp, salt the entire piece with Himalayan salt (a fine textured salt), and let it stand for an hour or so. I am using a Lynx grill with two regular gas burners and one high heat burner. I light the two regular burners about 20 minutes before putting the steak on. I set the temp to medium low and cook the steak about 45 -50 minutes, turning regularly.
I try to get the small end to about 130°, middle to 115° and thick end to 100°. We fed eleven people with 3/4 of the tenderloin and I cut the thick end into filets about 1” thick put back on the grill the next day for perfect leftovers.
…And for the drinks
About 2 weeks before the party buy 4-6 semi-firm but ripe peaches, 4-5 firm Fuji apples and 4-5 navel oranges.
Slice the peaches first, then the apples. Add the oranges on top so the citric acid keeps the apples from turning brown. I layer these in a big bowl, plastic or ceramic, then cover with equal parts Triple Sec, Peach Schnapps, Vodka, and White Rum. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the wine cellar for two weeks.
In college 50 years ago we made this in garbage cans, but a 5 gallon water bucket also works great. The day before the party I dump the fruit into the water bucket, I add 3 gallons of Italian style wine (inexpensive is fine) add approximately 750ml Peach Schnapps, 750ml Vodka, 750ml Amber Rum.
I don’t add sugar or orange juice so the only other ingredient is ice, which I like to put in the cups so it doesn’t dilute the Sangria. It’s very potent but the fruit is really the kicker –you can blend two days before, no problem.
If you can keep this cool, it will last quite a while.
A vegan, a butcher and a cow walk into a room… And started talking
From Thursday, June 4th through Saturday, June 6th over 200 delegates from 40 states and 12 nations gathered in Denver for roundtable discussions aimed at progressively revitalizing a meat system that is currently wasteful, inhumane, and… well, not as delicious as it could be.
— Kendra Kimbirauskas (@kimbirauskas) June 6, 2015
The diverse group included producers, policy makers, distributors, retailers, press, chefs, farmers, & ranchers. Discussions were focused on points of transition and difference, collaboration and future partnerships –the take away was action based.
One theme of the conference raised in many conversations was: How do we organize local and regional collaboration to increase the national impact of the better meat movement? To begin, we can support each other through industry – sharing resources and knowledge, and helping to create trade for better meat so it becomes a larger percentage of what’s available on the market. Another discussion central to the conference and Slow Meat movement was: What might we have to forgo as a broader community to have better quality meat available on our tables? Does it mean not eating meat one or two days a week? Does it mean only eating a certain quality of meat? Erin Fairbanks dives into this discussion in Episode 236 of The Farm Report. Changing the way we consume meat might mean spending the same each month on meat as families are now, and just eating less of it. Interpretation of the Better Meat, Less Campaign was a hot discussion amongst delegates.
Producers in attendance wondered if the positioning would discourage consumers from supporting an already small segment of the meat supply chain rather than disrupting the unabated consumption of cheap meats made available by the commodity market. One aspect of the campaign delegates were able to agree on was that eating Better Meat, Less might also mean moving away from the quick fix of the prized loin to eating more braising cuts, which pack a ton of flavor and are a fortifying addition to vegetable and grain based dishes.
One point well received was that our guiding light should, in part, be supporting the efforts of farmers who are working to improve the flavor of meat, as well as the health of the land and animal.
The Symposium was followed by the Slow Meat Fair, which was open to the public on Saturday. Temple Grandin gave the opening keynote. Temple continues to point out aspects of animal husbandry many of us overlook. Find her insightful keynote speech on Heritage Radio Network.
During the fair Heritage Foods USA collaborated with Steve Kurowski, President of the Colorado Brewer’s Guild, and Great Divide Brewery to produce a breed and brew tasting. At the tasting Mary McCarthy, Director of Operations at Heritage Foods presented historic and breed specific information on Berkshire, Red Wattle, Old Spot, and Tamworth breeds while guests tasted the four breeds of pork side by side. The meats were carefully prepared by Chef Matthew Raiford, who weighed out the same salt and pepper for each loin.
The 3rd Annual Slow Meat is scheduled to be held in 2017, but you can get involved now through your local Slow Food chapter. Visit Slow Meat online for more information.
“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Taste Notes: Balanced, Smokey, Flower, Smooth, Light, Airy, Spiced finish
Wine is the expression of the geography, geology and the climate of a region as much as it represents a particular varietal of grape. In the same way honey represents more than the work of a hive. It is a unique and beautiful reflection of the environment, the season and the blooms pollinated in the pursuit of its creation.
A skillful beekeeper knows how to arrange their hives just so to ensure the bees pollinate a specifically selected flower. They select flowers and time the collection to produce exquisite and unique honeys that exemplify their provenance. Sourwood Honey is a celebrated but rare variety of single flower origin produced in the Southeastern United States.
Sourwood Trees, (Oxydendrum arboreum) are native to the United States and bloom from mid-June to late July, thriving on the rocky soils of the Allegany, Blue Ridge, and Smoky Mountains. Because they bloom later in the year, after most of the wildflowers, maple and tulip blooms, there is a narrow 3-4 week window where beekeepers can harvest this rare nectar.
Sourwood honey is prized by connoisseurs having won best honey in the world twice at the prestigious Apimondia World Honey Show. It is distinguished by a light amber color, slow crystallization and a spicy, gingerbread twang on the finish. Sourwood Honey is often in short supply as the nectar produced by the trees is very dependent on the climatic conditions. Sourwood trees are also declining in number because of habitat loss from development.
Mike Childers is a local beekeeper in Raleigh, North Carolina who brings his bees deep into the Great Smoky Mountains right beside National Park Service Property to pollinate on Sourwood trees well away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Lightly filtered, pristine, and straight from the bees to your table.
Mark from New York gave our Piedmontese brisket a try. The Pied is a very unique breed originally from the mountainous Piedmont region of Italy. Even though this beef is known for being very lean, because Piedmontese cattle carry the myostatin gene, or double-muscle gene, their lean meat is incredibly tender and flavorful.
We are always looking for new, unique and rare foods from farmer who’s practices celebrate the land and foods they produce. We came across an amazing dried apricot that was unlike any we had before. The skin was thin and delicate leaving the fruit juicy, sticky and tender. The Blenheim apricot, named after England’s Blenheim Place where it is thought to have originated, has been grown in the Santa Clara Valley region of California since the early 1900’s. At the height of its popularity it was one of the most widely planted apricot varieties for good reason. The Blenheim ripens from the inside out and later in the season, making it more delicate than most. The Blenheim is both sweet and tart with an intensely aromatic aroma of honeysuckle.
By the 1960s the Blenheim began a slow decline, losing out in sales to tougher apricots that stood up to cross-country shipping. Once at risk of losing this truly remarkable fruit, the Blenheim has seen a slow but steady recover in numbers. More producers are begin to recognize the value of this rare treat thanks in part to its inclusion on Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste catalog— a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction. We are excited to share these rare treats with you!
Taste Notes: Bright, Sweet, Tangy, Juicy, Sunkissed, Honeysuckle
We think the bright flavor of the Blenheim shines brightest straight out of the bag as a snack or appetizer.
B&R Farms, a 4th generation family operation in San Benito County, has been growing Blenheims since 1929. They have 100 acres of established Blenheims and in 2013, they planted another 25 acres. B&R hopes to continue to expand their unique orchard as the land becomes available. The farmers at B&R handpick their apricots and dry them in the California sun.
Dried apricots will keep many weeks left out in a jar for snacking but they will start to lose moisture & darken after a few weeks.
We recommend storing the apricots in a cool, dark location where they will last for at least a year.
The development of modern sheep traces back to ancient Mesopotamia where the wild muflon, the ancestor of modern sheep, were first believed to be domesticated between 11000 and 9000 BC. These sheep were primarily raised for meat, milk, and skins. Woolly sheep began to be developed around 6000 BC in Iran, and cultures such as the Persians became dependent on sheep’s wool for trading. Domesticated woolly sheep were imported to Africa and Europe via ancient trading routes where breed distinction and differentiation began to take shape.
Through breed improvement efforts, selective breeding and migration via trade, modern breeds began to emerge across Europe and Africa. These breeds were further developed and crossed before being brought to the Americas on the ships of explores and merchants.
Origin : Spain
Population : 2,000 and 5,000 Worldwide
Status : Threatened
Temperament : Active but Docile
Known for : Sweet, lean meat
Facts : The first breed brought to North America.
Flavor Profile : Rich, Earthy, Tangy, Sweet, Mustard Seed, Spicy, Herbaceous, Silky.
Navajo-Churro : The Spanish Churro sheep was first brought to the Americas in the 1500s by the Spanish explores. One of the earliest domesticated animals in the New World, it quickly became integrated in native culture and cuisine. The Navajo-Churro produces excellent wool and meat. It was Navajo women who owned the sheep, the grazing rights and the wool, which was an important source of income. The Navajo-Churro existed in great numbers until the 1860’s when the United States government targeted their populations while at war with the Navajo.
The Navajo-Churro produces meat is lean with a distinctive, sweet flavor. It is rich, hearty and earthy with tangy and spicy notes of mustard seeds.
Origin : Tunisia
Population : 5,000 USA
Status : Rare
Temperament : Docile
Known for : Exceptionally flavored meat
Facts : A favorite breed among our founding fathers.
Flavor Profile : Earthy, Minerally, Buttermilk, Not Lamby, Silky.
Tunis : The Tunis breed originated in Tunisia and is reputed to be more then 3000 years old. Referred to as fat-tailed sheep in the bible, the tail is now smaller but mature ewes still carry the distinctive tail fat the breed is known for. The color ranges from tan to red with the occasional white spot on the head and tail.
A favorite breed among our founding fathers, John Adams mentioned the breed in his diary in 1782 noting its exceptional taste. Thomas Jefferson ordered that a herd be imported from Tunisia because he loved them so much he thought they should be more readily available. George Washington bred them—one of his early legacies was the proliferation of his particular Tunis crossbreed on farms and dinner tables along the east coast. The Tunis is an excellent ambassador breed for the grass-fed movement yet still remains on the Livestock Breed Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List.
Origin : England
Population : Less than 2,000 Worldwide
Status : Watch
Temperament : Docile
Known for : Exceptional flavor
Flavor Profile :Olive, Lavendar, Sweet, Round, Lamby, Fresh.
Dorset Horn : The Dorset Horn is a breed of sheep that spread over Dorset, Somerset, Devon, and most of Wales during the 1700’s. Once popular with English aristocracy, the Dorset Horn has seen a steady decrease in population since the inception of industrialized agriculture. Today it is listed as Critically Threatened by the Livestock Conservancy. Dorsets tolerate heat well—heat tolerance contributes to the rams’ ability to breed earlier in the season than rams of other breeds. The Dorset Horn is able to give birth three times a year, which contributes to the Dorsets profitability and appeal for farmers who are familiar with heritage breeds.
Dorset Horn sheep are prized for their lean meat and tenderness.
Origin : America
Population : Between 2,000 and 5,000 Worldwide
Status : Watch
Temperament : Docile
Known for : Balanced, mild flavor
Facts : A haired sheep
Flavor Profile : Savory, Mushroom, Clover, Peppery, Creamy, Woody.
Katahdin : The Katahdin is unique in that it is a hair sheep and lacks the traditional coat of wool that lamb are associated with. Wool production takes time and energy from both the animals and the farmers while only providing 10 percent of the farmer’s income. In addition wool production can create a more pungent and muttony taste in the meat. Katahdins are favored by many farmers for their low maintenance and prized by chefs for their bright and clean taste. The Katahdin breed was first developed by Michael Piel of Abbott, Maine. It is an ideal breed for grass-fed systems and serves land conservation projects well.
Thanks to you all for sharing your very yummy photos!
We are so pleased to offer these heritage and rare breeds of turkey raised by fourth generation poultry farmer, Frank Reese. Frank has been raising birds for 60 years and can trace the genetic lines for these turkeys back over a couple hundred years. Passion and dedication has paid off in the success of his flocks and the uncompromising flavor of each animal.
2014 Turkey Photo Contest Winner:
Taylor Naples, FL
Carol Twin Falls, ID
To all of you who support the Heritage Turkey Project, Thank You! It would not be possible without your support and enthusiasm over the years.
We spoke with Jeff Porter, Del Posto’s acclaimed wine director, to get some tips and inspiration for pairing wine and beer with our salty cured ham. We Gave him two hams, both American, and asked him what he thought. Here’s what he picked…
Maple Sugar Cured Heritage Ham
1. Makes a killer Ham & Swiss sandwich and go for a high altitude white – a Swiss white would be great (those can be hard to find) so a delish Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige in Italy is perfect.
2. For brunch – sear it up, serve with pancakes and have some Champagne or other yeasty sparkling wine.
3. By itself from the fridge (so it is cold) an East Coast IPA – not as hoppy as a west coast IPA but has the bright and fresh palate to keep the richness in check.
S. Wallace Edwards & Sons 400 day aged Surryano Ham
An amazing cut of pig! The balance between sweet, savory, fatty and salty was perfect. There are a lot of beverages that I would enjoy consuming with the cured ham, but as always it depends on how you use it:
Classic: A super dry white from Spain would be really delish with this – a white Rioja or my fav Spanish wine – a Fino Sherry or better yet a Manzanilla (a sub sect of Fino Sherry)
America: I could take this 3 ways – beer/wine/booze
Beer: An American example of Saison beer would be really good with this – the citrus notes and brightness balance out the rich flavor
Booze: Go whiskey based cocktails or a sweet version of Bourbon on the rocks like Four Roses Single Barrel
Wine: We can go a few different ways – I really like sparkling wine and the bright acidity mixed with the richness of the yeast work well with the ham – thin Schramsburg Blanc de Blanc or Roederer Estate Brut NV – I also think a classic Sauvignon Blanc from northern California would work really well – again – it is about balancing the salty/richness of the ham.
No expense spared: If you want to go “hog wild” – I would go Champagne – lean on a richer style of Champagne – something with oomph – like Krug
Other wine pairings: Friulano from Italy, A Riesling from Germany (from the Rheingau or Rheinhessen) – the best thing is that the ham is very versatile