Thursday, April 28, 2011

Operation Grassroots Alaska: Matanuska Creamery

For the first official "All Alaskan" addition of "Operation:  Grassroots Alaska", I decided to highlight a business that I have been using myself the past three or so weeks and plan to continue to use for quite some time.  Matanuska (or Mat-Su :) Creamery.

When I first decided that it was definitely time to start shopping locally for fresh things, one of the first things I noticed was the yellow gallon of locally produced milk sitting next to the box store milk I always bought.  When I started doing the math for Matanuska Creamery milk compared to Fred Meyer brand, or Lucerne milk, I figured the 1.50 or so more per gallon for the Matanuska Creamery milk was worth it.

I learned a little bit ago that see through milk containers are a TERRIBLE thing.  When milk is exposed to light it starts to lose nutrients fast and the more light it is exposed to the worse off the nutrients get.  So, the milk we buy in the stores in the see through containers?  Not very high on the nutrient scale.  And my son and husband live on milk pretty much, so I definitely wanted them getting as much nutrition in their milk as possible.  I have been trying to find milk in opaque containers for a while, but every time I'd bring some brand that had an opaque container home to try my husband, my son or someone else in the family wouldn't like it.  So, I was very very pleased when I brought home the Matanauska Creamery milk and everyone liked it!!!

Matanuska Creamery has been around for quite a while and is located right down the road from me on the Palmer Wasilla Highway.  They sell their milk in local stores (for actually cheaper than you can buy it from the creamery because the stores get a big bulk buying discount), but you can buy things like butter, ice cream (which is so good you'll seriously get addicted after one ice cream EVER!!!), cheese and other items from their store front on the Palmer Wasilla.

When I contacted Matanuska Creamery about trying to buy some samples of their products to try they were super duper nice enough to give me 1/2 lb of sharp cheese, 1 pint of ice cream and 1/2 lb of butter to test drive and post up a review here (I put the milk in the picture to show you the variety of products available).  My husband dropped off on his way home from work to pick the stuff up, so I can't give you a review of what the store front looks like, but I really want to go there and poke around maybe this weekend.

By the way, the milk, if you buy it from the Creamery itself is 5.00.  You can get it at the store for 4.76 or so, but the creamery doesn't have tax, so I'm thinking you're pretty much even if you buy it at the creamery without the tax or at the store with the tax.  I was really hoping buying the milk from the creamery would be like way cheaper so I could jump down there to save a bit of money, but oh well at least I know I can continue to buy my milk at the store without guilt *laugh*.

My opinions on the products they gave me to try?

First the butter.  My husband thinks I'm nuts, but I swear that the butter has a slightly earthier taste than store bought butter. It's definitely got a distinctive flavor to my taste buds anyway.  Either way it does NOT taste bad (like Fred Meyer brand butter taste really yucky to me) and I would purchase it again if I could get it for a good price.  It is pretty spendy compared to store bought butter, going for  5.00 per 1/2 lb of butter (regular or garlic flavored, the lemon costs 6.00 per 1/2 lb).  I'd definitely consider this like a "special occasion" type of butter and am thinking on picking up some of this the next time I have king crab...I'm thinking lemon butter with that would be superb.

Next, the cheese.  Their cheese rings in at about 5.00 per 1/2 lb or 8.00 lb (extra sharp costs more), but they do have other types of cheese that vary in price.  The cheese was really good and I enjoyed mine with some fancy crackers I dug out of the cupboard (from a gift set my dad sent me for Christmas last year) and a small glass of wine (I felt all cosmopolitan ;).  I warmed it to room temperature before eating it to really get an idea of it's taste.  And it was quite yummy!  I would definitely say it was on par with some of the "fancy" cheeses I'd buy on a whim at Fred Meyers in their cheese section (you know, before I had kids).  I'd definitely buy this again for a good quality cheese.

The ice cream though, ohhh man THIS was the product that stood out to me!!!  I have found a new love so move over Ben and Jerry's!  Their ice cream is AWESOME (thus the half eaten pint in the picture).  It is creamy, it is soft, it melts in your mouth with wonderful creamy goodness.  We got the Candy Bar Crunch flavor (it has toffee bar in it) and man oh MAN it just blew my ice cream loving mind!  Their ice cream is actually REALLY reasonably priced too for home made ice cream. It's 4.00 per pint, BUT if you buy 3 you can get them 3 for 10.00 (3.33 a piece).  And trust me, you'll want to buy 3!   I'm hoping to adjust my budget this summer to get like 3 pints of ice cream a couple of times a month for ice cream treats.

The best part about these products is that you KNOW where they come from.  You know you're supporting a local business and that your money is going back into Alaska.  The products TASTE good and the ingredients lists are super easy to follow because the products are FRESH!  I really consider that to be one heck of an asset.  I will definitely be buying these products again.

If you'd like to learn more about Matanuska Creamery you can Visit Their Website where you can also get directions to their store.  I know you can purchase their milk (growth hormone free and all) though Full Circle Farm, but if you're curious if they'd ship some stuff to you, I'd just give them a call.  They were all really nice when I called and talked to them.

Stay tuned for next week where I'm going to be test driving a box of produce from Glacier Valley CSA that I purchased (I pick it up next Thursday :).   I'm going to do a direct comparison of them to Full Circle Farm, so here's hoping this one works out better!


Doin' It Myself said...

I will ONLY buy their milk if I have a choice. It lasts WAY frikkin longer when it's open. Their ice cream and white cheese curds are the bomb, particularly when eaten together (like fries and a milk shake, except this is all dairy, baby!). I didn't know they were doing butter yet. I've been waiting for sour cream! I would prefer to buy their products only for dairy, if possible, extra cost and all. Fresher, better, more nutrients, more local, etc. So glad you did this post!!!

Alaskan Bargain Hunter said...

Yeah, I know how you feel about fresher being better. I'm going to see if they carry the butter in sticks (my biggest hang up actually *laugh*) because I totally suck at trying to eyeball what a tablespoon of butter is when it comes to container butter and when it comes to baking, I'm thinking I'm going to need the help of the lines on a stick :).

Ice cream and cheese curds together huh? That's quite a combo. I'll have to try it sometime :).