After several months of difficult work, Loudoun's first goat cheese maker is officially open for business.
With a Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services license in hand, Molly and Sam Kroiz, owners of Georges Mill Farm Artisan Cheese
During the last four months, the Kroizs have been hard at work building their creamery and preparing the farm for their new business.
With tasks like construction of the creamery, marketing at rural festivals like the Loudoun Grown Expo and birthing goat kids behind them, the future of the business is now underway.
With the hard labor mostly completed, the business routine now begins, as their specialized and one-of-a-kind cheese can hit the dinner tables of homes in western Loudoun
After receiving her business license three weeks ago, Kroiz is still getting into a routine.
She is currently making one batch of cheese and one batch of either Feta or Bloomy Rind a week.
“I am still trying to figure that out right now. We haven't yet reached a point where we have caught up to the first batch of aged cheese, so right now we have a half batch of cheese a week basically,” Kroiz said. “I am pretty sure I will always be making the fresh cheese once a week and then it will just depend on how much of each of the other types we sell and how our supply is of those coming ripe in the coming weeks to know what I am going to need. So it will be a bit of a balancing act.”
While she may not currently have a long term plan, Kroiz is constantly making cheese as well as performing her other cheesemaking duties like milking.
Currently, she is making cheese every three days. She is milking her goats twice daily – once in the morning and once in the evening. From those six milkings, she is roughly garnering approximately 20 gallons of milk, which is a happy medium for her 35-gallon vat.
Her husband, Sam Kroiz, still works full-time as a contractor and is conducting final construction around the farm, including finishing a dry storage area. He has also been building shelters and fencing as they move the baby goats around. Their goats now total 20. Sam also helps out with the family bed and breakfast when needed.
In the future, the Kroizs will be milking more goats, which will in turn produce more cheese. Supply is a major limitation because of the amount of interest they have received.
Molly Kroiz believes interest and word-of-mouth will be the key to growing their business to a wider variety of retailers.
With more time to make cheese, Molly Kroiz also plans on making longer aged cheeses.
“At that point we will be in a much better position to be able to sell to more wineries and restaurants, which we have had a lot of interest from,” Molly Kroiz said. “The direct retail is going to be a better bang for the buck, plus it is more fun.”
Where to find it?
There are several ways to try Georges Mill Farm Artisan Cheese.
Currently, the Kroizs have 10 CSA members and are delivering cheese to those members every other week.
“Ten members is all we are really looking for at this time, but in the future I am sure we will be looking to grow that aspect of the business,” Molly Kroiz said. “For us this year is kind of like a pilot program for us. So I am sure things will change based on the feedback we get from this year.”
Potential customers can also find either Molly or Sam at the Purcellville Farmers Market every Saturday.
Those interested can also visit the farm by appointment only to purchase cheese.
Georges Mill Farm Artisan Cheese will also soon be available at such Loudoun County hot spots as Market Table Bistro and Lost Rhino Brewery.
“Our Bloomy Rind is going to be on Market Table Bistro's cheese plate I believe and you may also see some of our fresh Chevre as well,” Molly Kroiz said. “We haven't started selling them cheese yet, but Market Table Bistro should be getting their first cheese in a couple weeks and Lost Rhino will get their first cheese next week.”
This is the fourth installment in a recurring series detailing the process of starting a small rural business.
Cheesemaking at Georges Mill
|Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|
Catoctin and Dutchman’s Creek Chevrè cheeses are placed on the Kroizes' kitchen counter at Georges Mill Farm Artisan Cheese in Lovettsville June 25.
It is a lengthy process to make cheese, beginning with putting the accumulated milk into the vat for batch pasteurization.
To properly pasteurize the batch, Molly Kroiz must bring the temperature up to 145 degrees and hold it there for 30 minutes.
“This is not what they typically do for liquid milk because it takes too long, but for cheesemaking it is less damaging to the milk,” Kroiz said. “This is more important for cheesemaking than it is for drinking milk. It is not something you could really taste the difference or anything like that, but it changes things a little bit less. Lower heat is going to impact the proteins and other compounds in the milk less.”
Following pasteurization, Kroiz cools it down to varying temperatures based on what cheese she is making.
After cool down, she adds a culture, which is a freeze dried bacterial starter culture she has developed from flavors she likes from extended tasting trials.
Along with the culture, Kroiz adds rennet, which is an enzyme that coagulates the milk.
For her soft cheeses, Kroiz doesn't use as much rennet as harder cheeses and they ripen in 12 to 24 hours, which can vary on temperature and amount of culture.
For her Feta cheese, the ripening happens in about an hour and it is put into molds for shaping.
“The fresh cheese gets dipped with a ladle – because it is very soft, sort of like thick yogurt – into either cheese gloss bags to drain in the case of the fresh Chevre or in little molds in the case of the Bloomy Rind and slowly it drains for about 10 to 12 hours,” Kroiz said. “Once the fresh cheese has drained, I add a little salt, pack it into tubs and it is ready for market. Feta is put into a brine or saltwater solution and aged for three or four weeks. The Bloomy Rind gets a dry salt rub and put into an aging fridge at 50 degrees for about 10 days. Once that's done both of those are ready for market.”