Cow, Field, Farm
Deerfield Farm, Durham
I’m writing this in late 2023 and I must admit that I’m shocked – shocked! – that the state of Connecticut has not adopted my 15-years-old idea of creating an official Cheese Trail. It’s been picked up and stolen by plenty of aggregator sites and fake AI “travel & food” blogs, but never anything official.
And so, I trudge on in my lonely quest to visit every Connecticut cheesemaker and eat their cheese.
This quest has taken me all over the state and I rather enjoy it. Deerfield Farm in Durham is as classic a dairy farm as you’ll find. Rolling hills, curious Jersey cows, and an honor system sales room. Old school. Salt of the earth. Cool.
One difference here is that Deerfield is woman-owned. Melynda Naples is her name and I have no idea who else helps her run the show, but she seems to do pretty much everything.
The farm started as a Naples family 4-H project several decades ago, but didn’t become a full-time business until 2004. Interestingly, the present location on the corner of Parmelee Hill and Pent Roads, is a town-owned open space and the land and barn are leased from the town. The barn was built in 2005 and it was installed with a milking system, tie stalls, and a barn cleaner. Fencing went up and then the cows arrived and voila: Deerfield was off and grazing. They almost immediately started bottling their own milk and selling it from the farm. Now all of the milk they produce is bottled at the farm or made into yogurt, chocolate milk, mocha coffee milk or soft cheese.
And there we have it: the reason I came here… soft cheese.
I entered the barn and peered in at the milking operation. It looked nice. Then I entered the little shop area and was rather impressed with the volume of products they sell here.
Beef, veal, pork, poultry, milks, yogurts, cheeses, and a bunch other local artisan products. Again, this is cash-only operation.
They sell raw milk here which is one of the most ridiculous fads of the 21st century. Every gallon in the fridge was already claimed by someone.
Our Raw Jersey Milk is straight from the cow and bottled several times per week. It is not pasteurized or homogenized. The sweet Jersey cream rises to the top and the live enzymes and beneficial bacteria naturally in cows milk is left untouched and in its natural state. Just shake and enjoy!
Nah, I’m good. (And it’s $12 a gallon… shouldn’t it be much cheaper than pasteurized and homogenized milk?)
But there’s other milk here. Delicious milk. Their chocolate milk is made with whole Jersey milk, premium Dutch cocoa, pure vanilla and sugar. They say, “it’s like drinking premium melted chocolate ice cream” but it’s better than that. It’s so darn good and I’m glad I picked some up.
I skipped the yogurt and grabbed two “Brianna” cheeses. They also make ricotta, which I did not buy.
This is a soft creamy fresh cheese made from our whole Jersey milk. We offer it in plain, garlic/chive, crushed red pepper and dill flavors. Excellent spread on crackers or put on cucumber slices for a low carb option. Also makes a great replacement for mayo on your sandwich or wrap!
Each 8 ounce tub is eight bucks. Kind of pricey, but I only had a twenty, so two tubs and the chocolate milk it was.
I went with Garlic Chive and Red Pepper Brianna (I only see “Briana” with one ‘n’ as a type of cheese online, but I’m not a cheesemaker and Deerfield Farm is, so whatdoIknow?)
Both were incredibly mild with their flavor additions, so I fully support the idea above to “replace your mayo with it” on sandwiches. These cheeses have the texture of, like, that whipped cream cheese if you’ve ever had that. It doesn’t spread super smoothly, but it’s very good if you’re into very mild, soft-yet-chunky but chunky-in-a-pleasant-way chunky, not gross-chunky cheeses.
Even though the Briannas were not my favorite Connecticut Cheese Trail cheeses ever, I still love Deerfield Farm. I love that it looks like a plucky 19th-century farm. I love that it’s woman-owned. I love their chocolate milk. I love their trust in the community with the honor-system set-up.
And hey, if you’re into raw milk, go for it. I guess.