UPPER JAY - The Sugar House Creamery is a farmstead creamery located at 18 Sugar House Way in Upper Jay.
The creamy offers fresh non-pasteurized cows milk and pasteurized and unpasteurized cheeses, all produced on the farm. The farm store also offers other locally produced farm products such as eggs, yogurt and meat. It is a family farm owned and operated by Alex Eaton and Margot Brooks.
Margot grew up on her family's dairy farm in South New Berlin in western New York. Alex was raised in Vermont and had no previous farm experience. They met at St. Lawrence University and later married. After college, Margot worked on a farm in Vermont where she learned how to make goat and cow cheese. Alex and Margot eventually started working on Margot's family farm and decided that they wanted to raise cows and produce dairy products.
Alex Eaton and Margot Brooks with their cheeses in the cave. (Photo — Charles Potthast Jr.)
They started to look for a location to start a creamery, then they found the farm in Upper Jay.
" The property fit the bill perfectly, it was an ideal location," Alex said. "The area appeared to be an untapped market for cheese."
They moved onto the 22-acre farm in October 2012 and started construction of a barn and creamery the next spring. Their herd of eight Brown Swiss Cows, with a diet consisting of hay, grain and pasture grass, produces the milk they sell and use in their cheeses. The cows must be milked every morning and evening.
"It is a lot of work, but this is what we both want and love to do," Alex said.
The Sugar House Creamery offers both pasteurized and non-pasteurized cheeses. By law, any raw milk cheese aged less than 60 days must be pasteurized. Margot is the creator of the different cheeses made on the farm. She produces the cheese in a vat imported from Holland.
"It was important to us to have the best equipment possible to produce quality cheeses," Margot said. "Most of the best equipment is manufactured in Europe."
Margot explained the cheese making process including how different cultures, temperatures, and aging all effect the taste of the cheese. She keeps detailed records including the weather and any feed changes the cows may have, all to improve the quality and taste of the cheese. The cheeses are aged in the "cave," an underground structure which stays cool without refrigeration. This area allows mold to grow around the cheese, adding to the flavor while eliminating the need for wax. She produces alpine style and washed Rhine cheeses under the brand names: Troubadour, Dutch Knuckle and Little Dickens.
It takes about 10 pounds of milk to produce one pound of cheese. During the cheese making water is removed and whey becomes a by product of the process.
"The whey is used by a local farm to feed pigs," Margot said, "thereby making a value added product out of our waste."
The milk produced by the cows is stored in a balk tank were it is cooled and agitated for three days before bottling. The milk house and creamery are spotless. Alex explained that the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets regulates and inspects their operation frequently.
Alex and Margot are very motivated individuals who are committed to producing quality products.
"We are proud of our milk and excited about the cheeses we make," Alex said.
He was also happy that many of the sales from the farm have been made to local residents.
The Sugar House Creamery started selling their products in December of 2013. In conjunction with their on site farm store they currently sell cheeses to restaurants and shops in Lake Placid. They are also hoping to start attending farmer's markets soon.
For more information about the Sugar House Creamery, visit their website online at www.sugarhousecreamery.com.