Author Archive

March Maple Madness

March 7th, 2021 by Robin McClain

March has arrived and the Great Melt has slowly begun. Just last week we looked outside and saw a little blade of green grass waving in the breeze behind the Inn. It’s hard to believe the small, telltale signs of spring are starting when even now skiing is the number one pastime and nearby Killington has 110 of their runs still open. The hint of spring on the horizon has us savoring every snowy moment as our first winter in New England draws to a close.

We set foot in Vermont for the first time last summer as the new Innkeepers at the Jackson House Inn and immediately began mentally preparing for the upcoming winter months. People far and wide told us Vermont winters were nothing to be trifled with. Snow isn’t anything new to Lauren as she grew up in Colorado and spent the past seven years in Tahoe, California. Kayla, however, is an Oregonian through and through and to citizens of the Pacific Northwest, an inch of snow can be cause for a major city shut down. The transition to Vermont was even more abrupt for Kayla, coming from a sabbatical year enjoying New Zealand’s sun and beaches. But when the first snowstorm arrived and dropped 30 inches on us overnight, we were prepared for grueling days of snow management. Instead, as we shoveled our way out of the Inn the following day, we found ourselves falling in love with the winter wonderland around us. We were immediate converts, putting dreams of stand-up paddleboards and hiking shoes away and embracing Vermont Snow Activities (as we refer to them).


Vermont Snow Activities are plentiful and diverse, and we’ve made it our goal to give each of them at least one solid attempt. Snowshoeing has been a wild success, and there seem to be never ending trail systems in the area to explore. Snowshoeing has the added benefit of keeping our dogs entertained, too, as they run by our side. Downhill skiing at Suicide Six was a favorite of Kayla’s, while Lauren was more than happy to sit at the fire pit, sip a Vermont beer, and munch on fries in the sunshine for the afternoon. Snowmobiling proved to be a wonderful way to explore a new area (although we needed hand massages after two hours of riding around with death grips on the handle bars). We took to the ice on Lake Morey to practice our triple axels and toe loops and made it about halfway around the lake before realizing we didn’t know how to do any of those fancy moves. However, the views were spectacular and ice skating in the open air on a frozen lake was a wonderful experience. The final must-do activity before the Melt is too far advanced is to grab a fishing pole and try out the noble art of ice fishing. This will be particularly entertaining because Lauren prefers her fish in a sautée pan and will be relieved if nothing actually bites.



These excursions have made the months of snow and cold positively enchanting and we’ve been delighted to trade recommendations with new and returning guests. If you want one more shot of winter in Woodstock, we still have a few lesser-known options up our sleeves to share with you!

Along with these adventures, winter has provided some other valuable learning experiences. We’ve found ourselves asking questions we’d never thought of before: when ordering ice melt, do you order by the pound or by the ton? If there’s an early morning snowstorm, do you still put the trash bins out on the road or will that inconvenience the heroic snow plowers? Whats the deal with roof rakes? Is 30 inches of snow normal or an aberration? Thankfully, the Woodstock community is incredibly supportive and we’ve had a lot of kind, non-judgemental guidance as we navigate the rules of Vermont winter. A quick shout-out and thanks to all those who have helped “the Jackson House Girls” over the past months!

Now that March is here, we are learning that all the old adages are true. All good things must come to an end. When one door closes, another door opens. And when in Vermont, it is all about maple syrup. Snow season may be slowly winding down, but Vermont always has something fun in store. We’re fast approaching maple sugaring season and couldn’t be more excited to share it with our guests for the first time! That syrup you enjoy with your pancakes, poured over ice cream or dolloped into your coffee has a long story behind it before arriving on your table. Vermont’s maple sugar farmers have been gearing up all winter, replacing tubing, preparing lines, and tapping trees in preparation for the next month of grueling work. In the coming weeks, the temperature will reach that sweet spot of over 40 degrees during the day and below freezing at night, and the sap will start flowing!

The West Coast never offered many opportunities to see maple sugar season in action so we again found a host of new questions: how many trees does it take to make a gallon of maple syrup? Why are there plastic tubes strung from tree to tree? What does sap even look like? In that spirit, we drove over to local sugar house Sugarbush Farm to learn more about this Vermont tradition. Sugarbush Farm’s self-guided experience through the sugar house and lovely 15-minute Maple Walk tour through the woods helped us find the answers to all of our burning questions.

We don’t want to rob you of the chance to experience the triumphant success of correctly answering the quiz cards placed along the Maple Walk, so without giving too much away we’ll each share our favorite fun fact from the day. Lauren was both impressed, and intimidated, by the long hours needed during the sap boiling process. Farmers must add more wood to the fire every 15 minutes to keep the sap boiling at just the right temperature or risk burning their entire batch. While the process is grueling, friends and family come by to hang out, exchange stories, and, most importantly, provide food, helping the time pass. Kayla thought it was crazy that it takes 40 to 50 gallons of sap to produce a single gallon of maple syrup. It gave her a new appreciation for every dollop she pours in her coffee in the morning (yes, she officially converted to the practice). With warmer days forecast for the week ahead, maple sugaring season is really just beginning and you can come experience Vermont’s springtime passion for yourselves! Now that we’re the experts, feel free to ask us for recommendations on places to visit where you can see the magic in action–and enjoy a few samples.

With spring on the horizon, there’s still time for a few downhill runs before we say a bittersweet farewell to our newfound love of Vermont in winter. A new season’s adventures lie ahead, and we’ll keep you apprised as we discover Vermont Spring Activities! Or better still, come join us at the Jackson House Inn!

Kayla & Lauren

For the Love of…Alpacas: Weaving Dreams Farm and Boutique

September 26th, 2017 by Robin McClain

Heading out for a leisurely drive on the back roads around Woodstock, Vermont, is always a treat. Whether the view captures the lush greens of summer, the tones of fall foliage, or the white covering of snow in the winter, the landscape provides amazing variety with its rolling hills, winding streams and farm meadows.  One particular road on the way to nearby Windsor, however, leads to quite a surprise.  As you round a bend, a field appears where you instantly wonder if you have somehow been transported to the Andes Mountains – Weaving Dreams Farm is the proud home of a beautiful herd of Suri alpacas!  One of a few alpaca farms located in our neighboring communities, Weaving Dreams was “founded” by Lauren Anderson just a few years ago as a result of her longstanding desire to own a farm.  Returning to Vermont after quite a long time in other parts of the country, she had dreams of raising animals on her property in the state.  Having lived for a while on a property where the owner raised alpacas, she found the key to that next step in her life.

Alpacas are domesticated, social (among themselves, not necessarily with humans…) herd animals bred for soft fiber used in woven and knitted products.  The Suri breed (the one you see at Weaving Dreams) is known for their distinctive locks which are sheared yearly and spun into a soft, silky component used to create warm socks, sweaters, blankets, etc.  And a particularly appealing characteristic is that the fiber is hypoallergenic!  Lauren’s animals were sheared in spring, so they were just beginning to have short “dreadlocks” in their coats during our visit.  She encouraged us to pet the neck of one of her friendliest females and, oh my, silky is an understatement!

You may know of alpaca farms focusing on meat sales, which is definitely not a goal of Lauren’s enterprise.  “I just can’t think of that…,” she shares as we stand near the field.  She prefers to focus on fiber and is about to receive her first supply of home-sheared yarn from her beautiful female, Marilyn. Current colors in the group we see in the field include a soft “ivory” and shades of gold and dark brown.  Lauren would love to add a grey and/or black animal to complete the array. She also enters a few of her animals in competition, having received some recent accolades with a few of her prized herd.

A visit to Weaving Dreams, however, allows you to also see and purchase the products that alpaca fleece creates.  Lauren offers a boutique space full of beautiful capes, sweaters, blankets, etc.  She also highlights the work of local artisans beyond the alpaca theme – another love of hers, gardening, becomes clearly evident as you approach the shop and also as soon as you enter through the door to see the beautiful garden ornaments crafted by a local artisan.

We highly recommend a visit to Weaving Dreams Farm and Boutique to experience the beauty of Vermont and the adorable passion of another one of its special residents!

Our Favorites II

August 22nd, 2017 by Robin McClain

As autumn approaches, we have accumulated another year’s worth of features on Cheddar & Gin. We find it truly inspiring to realize how many creatives, visionaries, and hardworking people live in our little state. Each person we meet has a backstory which resonates with both us and our readers on various levels. The food, artistry, and dedication we’ve witnessed this year has been incredible. Our experiences through this blog have undoubtedly led us to the belief that Vermont’s status as a gastronomic, creative, and agricultural hub is not only here to stay, but will also continue to grow. As we did around this time last year, we are rounding up a few of our very favorite posts. Perhaps we will inspire you to delve into a few of these Vermont gems yourself!

writer & photographer for the inn’s blog

  1. Longest Acres Farm – There’s a reason why farmers Nick and Kate have such a lovely farm and family. They are incredibly beautiful people, inside and out. And this shows in their treatment of both land and animals. Nick and Kate have heightened the standard of living and environmental quality in which their animals exist. In doing so, they raise 100% grassfed livestock and commit to an Animal Welfare Approved certification – one of the most rigorous standards in use by any U.S. farm program. Their timber-frame home, large rustic barn, on-site yurt, and AirBnB guest house have a front-row seat to the bucolic pastures that make up Longest Acres Farm. This, along with their beautiful Devon cows and Icelandic sheep, make for the absolutely perfect pastoral scene. You can peruse Longest Acres’ farm products here.
  2. Wild Roots – The new kid on the block, Wild Roots is quite possibly my new favorite restaurant in the area. Ideal for a date night, special occasion, or simply a delicious dinner out, chef Peter has created a menu to reflect the area’s weekly harvest. Local food is accompanied by a well-curated wine list selected by the smiley, kind, sommelier/owner Jayne. Sit back and indulge in a memorable meal under the roof of this restored 200-year-old building. I guarantee you’ll be just as hooked once you’ve dined here.
  3. Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company – Yes, I love their cheese. That is a given. It’s local, it’s delicious, it’s award-winning. However, I fell in love with Vermont Farmstead once I visited their farm. The cows are undoubtedly “happy cows.” I know this sounds trite, but I truly don’t believe I’ve ever seen animals this happy on a dairy farm. Cows have the run of the fields, while baby calves are happy and curious in their respective shelters. In addition, we here at the Jackson House Inn have a running joke that the cattle of Vermont tend to have the best views out of any of us. Vermont Farmstead sits atop one of the highest hills in South Woodstock, overlooking vast mountain tops and sprawling fields. This, I would say, epitomizes Vermont. Call to tour the farm itself.
  4. Cloudland Farm – Ever since moving here, Cloudland has always been (and always will be) one of my absolutely favorite restaurants. First, you can’t beat the location. Situated at the very top of Cloudland Road, you have a view of faraway mountaintops from the back porch. Cocktail hour never looked so good. Proceed onto dinner and feast your eyes on dishes made from Cloudland’s very own gardens and pasture. Pork, beef, chicken, and turkey – I doubt you’ve had meat this fresh and delicious before.

innkeeper & breakfast fanatic

  1. Braeburn Siberians – The winter crowd will want to jump on this one, as these tours book up fast! You will not want to miss the chance to experience a real, authentic dogsled ride. Beyond the cute and fluffy pups, it’s the stillness of nature that stays with me. We once partook in a special night run under the full moon. I’ll never forget the brisk winter air, cold white snow, and the sound of silence. You can’t make this stuff up!
  2. Foley Brothers – These guys are making great beer. It’s a product of the entire family’s effort. That’s the cool thing about it. Beyond the delicious brew, Foley Brothers has a killer atmosphere. Warm weather brings about a whole new excuse to enjoy their beer garden and outdoor pizza oven. Check their Facebook page for updates on these events.
  3. SoLo Farm & Table – This post is an oldie but goodie. It’s worth mentioning again and again and again…because it’s that good. Refined farm-to-table is the name of the game here. Take a drive and visit our friends Wes and Chloe, revel in the white table cloth service, and indulge in some crispy braised octopus for us!
  4. Homestyle Hostel – Cocktails, cocktails, cocktails. We love the bar scene Justin and Eliza have thought up at their hostel. It’s all about the casual vibe and good times. Plus, their small plate food is absolutely delicious (their farmer’s market toast makes us drool). We always walk out of Homestyle with a big smile on our faces. It’s simply a good energy in there – one that is unique to this very special place.

innkeeper & kind face to greet you

  1. Spring Brook Farm – It’s the mission that made me fall in love with Spring Brook Farm. Their Farms for City Kids Foundation provides a unique 1,000-acre outdoor classroom for urban youth from New York City. This program wholeheartedly contributes to the farm’s daily practice, including its cheesemaking process! What Spring Brook does for kids takes me back to my teaching days. The afternoon we spent with the counselors and children here was an incredibly memorable one for me. You can taste a sampling of this farm’s award-winning cheese at many of our local markets!
  2. The Jackson House Inn Through the Years – This is our story! Our inn is very rich in history and meaning within the community. From our wooden staircase to the portraits hanging in our halls, there is a story behind pretty much every detail in the Jackson House Inn. Rick and I are so proud to contribute to this inn’s vibrant history. We also love sharing its story with our guests!
  3. Billings Farm & Museum – Of course, you’d be hard-pressed to visit Woodstock and not at least peek into Billings Farm. Their adorable Jersey cows will draw you in, and from there, you can learn about the agricultural history of our town. In fact, Billings played a major role in today’s modern farming practices. The farm has a continual slew of events happening on their grounds. Be sure to check their events schedule to see what’s going on daily!

(all of today’s photos c/o Kelby Cushman)

Digging In: Open Farm Week 2017

August 15th, 2017 by Robin McClain

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows us…we have an affinity for local produce. Why wouldn’t we? Vermont is now bursting with agricultural vibrance and energy. More and more people are congregating to Vermont, contributing to the resurgence and appreciation for organic, intentional farming. Younger folks are migrating (or returning) to the Green Mountain State to initiate their own agricultural vision, and this is certainly something to celebrate! We encourage you all to hug our farmers this week (in one sense or another)! Participate in this year’s Vermont Open Farm Week! From now through Sunday, you can meet the farmers, fields, and animals that contribute to Vermont’s spirited farming heritage.

There are many events scheduled to celebrate Open Farm Week, all of which can be found here. From kid-friendly events to culinary treats and hands-on workshops, Vermont farmers are truly coming together to commemorate Vermont’s agricultural history and booming revival. And believe us, there is an event for everyone. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live out their Mad Hatter dreams by sitting down for a tea party at Free Verse Farm, or pet the newborn calves who mature to make the cheese at Vermont Farmstead? We’re sharing a few of our favorite farms participating in Vermont’s Open Farm Week below.

Free Verse Farm This herb and apothecary farm is dong something rather unique in their pastures. Owners Misha and Taylor are serving up a bounty of naturally-grown herbal teas, remedies, body products, and culinary herbs. Rather interestingly, this duo likes to listen to the land itself. Free Verse Farm accommodates their 38 acres of dry slopes, wet low pockets, open fields, forest, and little meadows to cultivate herbs and flora in areas they naturally flourish. Misha told us, “Herbs are very particular. Elderberry, for instance, likes moist soil. Thyme and oregano thrive in dry soil.” Pockets of herbs grow throughout little habitats on the property and vary seasonally. To contribute to Vermont Open Farm Week, Free Verse Farm is hosting an Herbal Tea Party this Friday, August 18th from 5PM – 8PM. Visitors are invited to tour the farm and sip on a variety of farm-grown herbal tea blends.

Sugarbush Farm – One of the mainstays of Woodstock, Sugarbush has been promoting “agritourism” before it was even on trend. Sugarbush started inviting folks to the farm to sample their cheese and syrup in the 1980s. As word spread, the people kept coming! Family owned for 71 years, this traditional cheese and maple syrup farm maintains its bucolic integrity in order to pay respect to the farm’s history, as well as Vermont’s agricultural efforts. Every day this week from 10:30AM – 3:30PM, Sugarbush Farm invites both children and adults to sample maple syrup, walk the maple trail, visit the sugar house, and learn how maple syrup is made in the spring!

Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company – The product of one community’s incredible effort to revive the bucolic land an old dairy farm left behind, Vermont Farmstead has since drew seasoned farmers and cheesemakers. This land was well-worth keeping within the farming industry. Atop a hill that overlooks undisturbed pastureland and mountain peaks, Vermont Farmstead is a purely magical place to visit from a scenic perspective. The fact that this farm produces delicious, award-winning cheeses is simply the cherry on top. This company normally invites Vermont visitors to taste its cheese in their Windsor VT Market. However, in honor of this year’s Open Farm Week, Vermont Farmstead is inviting guests up to the farm itself for tours and tastings! From Monday to Friday this week, Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company is offering samplings and tours of their farm in South Woodstock from 9AM to 4PM!

Other farms we suggest looking into this week?

Stitchdown Farm – Our friends, Rita and Andrew, are doing some amazing things over in Bethel VT. Their flower farm and arrangements are not only impressive, but also reflect Stitchdown’s choice to farm with intention. Rita and Andrew work with an emphasis on health, revitalization, and community. In our opinion, they’re ultra cool. You can find Stitchdown Farm at the Wednesday Market on the Green in Woodstock VT from 3PM to 6PM. You can pick up pre-wrapped bouquets (for yourself or a loved one!), as well as flowers by the stem.

Fable Farm Fermentory – Fable Farm is a true reflection of the seasonal bounty, known for its “living wines” made from local fruits, herbs, saps, and honey. The result is a kind of dry cider, matured in the Fermentory’s very own aging cave. Taste Fable Farm’s libations for yourself at their Thursday Feast & Field Markets! Easily described as a scene out of a movie, this market involves live music, farm fresh tacos, various artisans, and (of course) Fable Farm Fermentory drinks.

Let’s Get Together: Vermont Farmstead Cheese

July 28th, 2017 by Robin McClain

While relatively new, Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company has undoubtedly grown to be a mainstay within our community. Not only have their cheeses won more than 50 awards in international and national competitions, Vermont Farmstead has also earned space in hundreds of stores and restaurants nationwide. As such, you may be familiar with the sunrise sunflower signage that distinguishes Vermont Farmstead Cheese. The company attributes their superior quality and taste to this expansive recognition, and we agree!

What we find most interesting about Vermont Farmstead and their story is how they got their start. You see, they began as a community effort to save a local dairy farm in South Woodstock VT. When five-year-old Star Hill Dairy decided to relocate from its picturesque 18-acre farm in 2009, locals became concerned about their dairy industry jobs and the future use of the land. “There was a real sense of loss when the rumors began to fly about breaking up the farm and having the land go out of agricultural use,” says Vermont Farmsteader Sharon. Talk of other uses for the land began to circulate, some of which would compromise the bucolic landscape. After seeing this farm firsthand, we can see why the community felt so passionate about this place. The land epitomizes the beauty of Vermont pastureland. Atop a hill, along a winding dirt road, Vermont Farmstead sits amongst lush, rolling hills. Quite heroically, the community refused to sit idle. Passionate residents raised funds to purchase the land, as well as to build and obtain equipment for future dairy farming. This concerted effort brought Vermont Farmstead to town – the first community-owned artisan cheese and dairy facility in the state!

This business revival drew a crowd of seasoned farmers, cheesemakers, and industry executives from the consumer product and specialty food market. A mixed herd of cow breeds, including Holstein, Jersey, Ayrshire, and Brown Swiss (who have a beautiful grey-brown color), also came along. By June 2011, Vermont Farmstead produced its first cheese. Five months and many practice runs later, their cheese was introduced to the public market. Then, in 2013, Vermont Farmstead acquired Castleton Crackers! Talk about a perfect companion to a cheese company. These artisanal crackers are made with all-natural ingredients, using fresh milk and butter from the farm. Together, these products make Vermont Farmstead the first artisanal cheese and cracker company in Vermont!

Vermont Farmstead attributes their success to the marriage of old world recipes and Vermont quality. Head Cheesemaker Rick Woods leads the old world initiative. “He looked to the classics as a starting point when crafting our cheeses,” notes Sharon. “He came to us with 18 years of cheese making experience and had many connections that brought old world recipes to him, specifically an 1800s Wensleydale recipe that he adapted.” In addition, Vermont Farmstead’s twelve cheese varietals are all handcrafted with 100% Vermont whole milk. The milk is sourced from the farm’s own cows, as well as from those of other local Vermont farms.

In fact, Vermont plays an incredibly big part in Vermont Farmstead’s name and identity. The company has purposely steered clear from trucking their milk in to make cheese. Instead, Vermont Farmstead houses, feeds, and cares for their own herd of cows. In fact, these cows live the the life! Even from birth, Vermont Farmstead cares for their herd like family. Indoor stalls provide cool temps and water-filled floors (a comfortable surface on which the cows can rest). Herd manager, Kelly, and her energetic Australian cattle dog allow the cows to roam freely most of the day, frolicking about the farm’s vast pasture and green knolls. Vermont Farmstead has purposefully chosen to be a “farmstead,” meaning their product comes from the cows on the farm and their on-site creamery. “Also, we make several raw milk cheeses because we want the flavors of the hillside to come through in the final taste of the cheese.” As you can imagine, this chosen process is extremely labor intensive and requires a hands-on approach. “Although the cheesemakers are following a ‘recipe’ per se,  quite a lot of adjustment happens on the fly through the look and feel of the curd – very much chemistry and artistry in sync.”

As the company continues, Vermont Farmstead is always looking for ways to be more sustainable. They’ve already incorporated a feeding program which utilizes drain-off whey from the cheesemaking process into feed for both their cows and other local pig farms. Vermont Farmstead is also looking into sustainable power. “Ideally in time, we want to put in a digester and generate energy from our manure.” Now this would be incredible! To power the cheesemaking process with the product of their already hardworking herd would be an undoubtedly gratifying feat.

Keep your eyes on news and media posts –  exciting things are happening at Vermont Farmstead! The cheese company recently launched their new washed rind cheese, Angeline (see the photo at the beginning of our post).  An early soft-ripened cheese Lille (below) quickly became a favorite due to its creamy texture and blend of flavors, so this new product is likely to do the same!  Described as pungent on the outside, yet buttery and brilliant on the inside – oh my!  It sounds like our kind of cheese for the Jackson House Inn  (breakfasts and beyond)! Bring on the “stink”, bring on the soft velvety texture! Vermont Farmstead also continues to make their delicious Windsordales packed with fruit and their custom Alehouse Cheddars with craft beers from Vermont. One of our their most popular is Cheddy Topper, which they make exclusively for The Alchemist.

You should also mark your calendar for the ultra fun Mac & Cheese Challenge hosted by Vermont Farmstead September 10th, from 11AM – 3PM. Held at Artisans Park in Windsor VT, about 20 local chefs and restaurants compete to be named Best Mac & Cheese. Let it be known – The Jackson House Inn competed and won third place a couple years ago! The event draws about 3,000 people with Harpoon beer, live music, a calf petting zoo, King Arthur Flour’s cookie truck, lawn games, and (of course) mac & cheese! Bring the kiddos and make it a family event, if you’d like. $17 in advance and $20 at the door. You can purchase a ticket or read more about the event here.

Ultimately, Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company is all about the reaction they get when people taste and enjoy their cheese. “It’s satisfying to know that we’re all a part of the process to make a product that is natural, tastes amazing and that people want to continue to buy.” From our perspective, their farm is also incredibly inspiring. We were simply amazed at the process by which Vermont Farmstead abides…and with simple ingredients – milk, salt, enzymes and cultures (and sometimes beer!).

If you’d like to pick up a Vermont Farmstead cheese for yourself, you can find a variety in Hannaford, Shaws, Big Y, Mac’s Markets, and our local Coops. We love that it is available at our nearby Woodstock Farmers Market too!  Of course, you can also visit their flagship store, The Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company Market in Windsor VT. There, they offer daily free samples of their cheese and Castleton Crackers! Finally, be on the lookout for Vermont Farmstead’s new van tooling around town and throughout the area. You’ll be able to spot their bright and shiny logo on it!

Under the Tuscan Sun: Chilled Tuscan Melon Soup

July 21st, 2017 by Robin McClain

The summer heat has set in and we’re beginning to have a lot of fun with this season’s produce! One of our favorite dishes at this time of year is Rick’s Chilled Tuscan Melon Soup – a light and flavorful dish that packs a fresh punch. We’ve previously celebrated melon season by serving melon halves, hollowed out and filled with fresh berries and sorbets. Recently, however, we’ve transformed this original dish to incorporate a different texture and presentation. It is simply too much fun to play with the vibrant color and refreshing taste of this special melon. Thus, we have converted our favorite Tuscan melons into soup! This dish may have a unfamiliar look, but the nutritional benefits have remained. Incorporate your daily dose of Vitamin A, C, and antioxidants into breakfast…get your melon on with our Chilled Tuscan Melon Soup!

Have you heard of Tuscan melons before? Also known as Napoli, Tuscan melon has been around since the Egyptian times, about 2400 BC. These little guys are actually a form of cantaloupe. They thrive in the heat, and as such, have a fairly short season. Most farms will start them in wind tunnels due to our cooler springs. These tunnels help the seedlings thrive to maturity. We source from a small specialty farm in Vermont, which harvests these melons at peak ripeness. Tuscan melons are deeply ribbed and have a crisp, sweet orange flesh. While these fruits are relatively small, they have a thick flesh and small seed cavity. Accordingly, each fruit packs a good amount of soup-worthy ingredient!

We love using Tuscan melons because of their very deep and vibrant melon profile. They tend to have a higher sugar content than other melons, making their natural sweetness top-notch. We are careful to harvest them as they are just fully ripe – when their green ribs start to fade and they have reached their optimum flavor profile. If you smell a ripe Tuscan melon, it screams fragrant and sweet! This makes our melon soup the perfect antidote to a hot or humid New England morning. Start your day off on a cool note and try our recipe for yourself!

Tuscan Melon Soup 

Servings: 5
Difficulty: Easy
Print recipe here.

Soup Ingredients:
1 Tuscan melon
2 limes, zest & juice
1.5 inch knob ginger, grated
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp natural sugar
1 Tbsp coconut milk
Pinch of salt

Garnish Options:
Toasted coconut flakes
Micro basil
Melon pieces
Avocado glacé
Toasted almonds or pistachios

Prepare Citrus Broth
Zest and juice two limes into small bowl. Grate knob of ginger into lime zest mixture. Add honey and sugar – stir until fully incorporated with no remaining sugar crystals. Taste and adjust to your liking (i.e. more honey/sugar for a sweeter taste, more lime juice or ginger for an acidic note). Tailor to your liking!

Prepare Melon
Cut melon in half. Scoop out seeds and any fiber strands surrounding the seeds. Slice into wedges (approximately 4 wedges per melon half). Remove melon rind by holding melon wedge in your hand and sliding a pairing knife between the rind and melon flesh. Slice wedges into 1 – 2 inch pieces.

Method for Tuscan Melon Soup
In a blender, add prepped melon pieces and 3/4 of citrus broth (reserve remaining 1/4 for final adjustments). Blend on low speed to break up melon (about 30 seconds). Gradually increase speed to highest setting, until fully blended. Taste. Add remaining citrus broth for an additional pop of acidity, if desired. Add a pinch of salt and coconut milk. Blend on high speed until fully incorporated (about 10 seconds). Transfer to a closed container and refrigerate overnight (this will develop a deeper melon flavor profile and soften the rawness of the melon). Very important step!!

Remove soup from fridge and mix with a hand whisk for 30 seconds, until blended. Portion about 4 ounces into a small soup bowl or attractive dish. Garnish with suggested options or your own inspirations. Serve immediately, chilled.