Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Stirling Creamery, with a Free Bonus Photo of the Outside of the Empire Cheese Co-op

Our expected last stop on our trip home from Ottawa was at the Stirling Creamery which is in, yes, Stirling, an attractive village a bit north of Belleville. Alas, thanks to my having attempted to set up a visit at the last moment, I was not really able to speak to anyone about the butter making process there. However, that's their offices in the photo above. It's just around the corner from their factory. You can go there to buy butter, which is what the Stirling Creamery makes. You may remember that their butters scored very well when we did our butter tasting last year.

The factory is a small and fairly utilitarian building, next to a fast moving small river. One assumes that the town started in this location as the water provided power for mills and manufacturing.

Looking up the river the other direction. We wandered up the street to check out the old stone building, which we assumed had been a mill. (It was, although it was also the town fire-hall for many years.) We ended up chatting with some folks who now had shops in the building, and who were out enjoying the lovely weather (it was lunch time.) One couple was from Montreal originally, and they remembered that Stirling butter had been available there... it does get around.

Another view of the creamery. In addition to the usual salted and unsalted butters sold by the pound or half pound, Stirling make goat butter - we bought half a pound to try - and whey butter, which as mentioned already was the best butter in our butter tasting last year. They also sell molded and formed butters to the hospitality industry, so if you find yourself served butter in the form of a golf ball (!?) , a rose, a maple leaf or a fleur de lis, chances are good it's Stirling butter.

We really didn't luck out. The creamery is set up so that you can see the butter being made through large windows on the street, but alas - no butter was being made when we were there. It was a bit surprising, nevertheless, to see how much their giant butter churns look like... giant butter churns. Whodathunk?

As we drove from Stirling to Campbellford, we passed the Empire Cheese & Butter Co-op. Alas, it was really not our day - I did not get permission to take any pictures inside, so I will only say that their cheese is excellent, and if you find yourself in the area you should definitely stop in and stock up. The outlet is on County Road 8, about halfway between Stirling and Campbellford.

Last year at this time I made Stir-Fried Fish with Snow Peas, Mushrooms & Garlic Scapes. Bit late for that already this year; the garlic scapes seem to be about done.


Naomi said...

I live just outside of Stirling and visit the Stirling area often because a lot of my family lives there. The Empire Cheese factory has always been a HUGE highlight of living in the area. Not to mention the chocolate factory that is about 10 minutes away from there in Campbellford.

Ferdzy said...

There's all kinds of wonderful stuff out in eastern Ontario, especially the dairy products. I wish I could get out there much more often than I do.

Olga said...

I just stumbled apon your site while I was looking for sources of grass fed dairy near Ottawa. Do you know if the main producers of dairy in Ontario grocery stores are from grass fed animals? I don't care so much about organic, but I am intersted in finding grass fed. Thanks for this very informative site.

Ferdzy said...

Olga, my impression is that it has more to do with the season than whether the milk is organic or not. Just about every dairy farm will graze their cows if they can - it's the cheapest way to feed them.

Usually they get given a little grain when they are milked, to encourage them to co-operate with the process. In the winter, of course, they must eat hay. I don't know whether you would consider that grass fed or not.

To make a long story short, I don't think you will get 100% grass fed milk. But on the on the other hand, I'm pretty sure almost everybody does MOSTLY grass fed, with some supplements.

You can always ask the local dairies too what they know about it. Find a brand, look them up; there is usually an email address or phone number. Good luck!