Company & Philosophy
When and why was Maple Hill Creamery founded?
The short story: we're organic grass-fed dairy farmers, turned yogurt makers.
The longer story spans twelve years of hard work and constant challenges. Many told us we were crazy to try and make milk with "just" grass, but we knew that what we were doing with our cows was the right thing. We made yogurt with our milk for our kids—and it turned out pretty good, so we began selling it in 2009, and founded Maple Hill Creamery.
Over the past few years, we’ve grown from a completely family-run operation to a thriving manufacturer of nationally distributed whole milk dairy products. Although we’ve brought on production, sales, and marketing staff, everyone in the family still pitches in on a daily basis, and are key to decisions big and small.
Running a certified 100% grass-fed dairy production company means that we’re not solely focused on the bottom line—or having the most shelf space in the yogurt aisle. To us, business “success” is also defined by a company’s values and production practices. We believe that when we use milk from only certified organic, 100% grass-fed cows to make our products, we are supporting and growing a food system that is most beneficial to the land, the animals, and the farmers—and that it makes for the most delicious products around!
Where is Maple Hill Creamery located?
Our creamery is located in Stuyvesant, New York, about 25 miles south of Albany, and on the east side of the Hudson River. We’ve been making yogurt and doing product development at this location since early 2013.
In addition to our Stuyvesant location we produce yogurt in Cortland, NY and Norwich, NY and we work with Grafton Village Cheese in Vermont to produce our cheese.
Where can I buy Maple Hill?
We’re pleased to say that we now have a wide national distribution. In addition to many independent retailers, we are also found at Whole Foods Markets, Sprouts, Natural Grocers / Vitamin Cottage, PCC Natural Markets, Stop & Shop, Shaw’s, and many more national or regional chains.
To find the store nearest to you click FIND in the upper right hand corner.
How can I get Maple Hill in my store?
Maple Hill Creamery products can be ordered through several national and numerous regional distributors. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
100% Grass-Fed Dairy
What are 100% grass-fed cows?
Cows that are 100% grass-fed graze when the grasses and other native plants grow, and eat hay (stored dry grass) or baleage (stored, fermented grass) in the winter months—most times harvested from same pastures they graze on.
Unlike most dairy cows in the United States, 100% grass-fed cows aren’t fed corn, grain, soy, alfalfa pellets, corn silage, or manufacturing by-products. They aren’t kept exclusively in barns or crowded feedlots that have little to no access to pasture. We believe that 100% grass-fed dairy cows have a distinctly better quality of life and longer lifespan than most dairy cows. A very small percentage of the dairy cows in the US enjoy the 100% grass-fed lifestyle.
What are "grass farmers"?
We often call our dairy farmers “grass farmers” because they essentially harvest grass—with their cows! Every single one of our farms practices “managed grazing,” which means that the farmer plans, times, and moves their cows through many paddocks to where grass is the lushest and most optimal for milk production.
The cows have lots of room to wander around, looking for the best plants to munch, and they always have a fluffy grass meadow bed to lay down on to chew their cud at midday, or to sleep on at night—because they don’t stay long enough to eat the grass down to the dirt—and the manure is always gone before they are back to that paddock. The grass farmer is acutely aware of the condition of his land and cows, and works in a holistic manner to keep both healthy.
What are the main differences between feeding cows a mixed ration of grain-based feed, and 100% grass-feeding?
Simply put, when dairy farmers choose to raise cows with managed grazing techniques, and when cows are fed the diet they evolved to eat, the end result is healthier animals, healthier farms, and healthier dairy products.
Let’s start with the cows, which are by definition ruminants. They have a four-chambered stomach called the rumen, which is designed to digest fibrous grasses and other plants. When grain and corn (quickly-digested carbohydrates with much less fiber) are fed to cows, it immediately changes the pH of the rumen, making it more acidic. This can result in higher risk for infections, systematic inflammation, bloat, decreased immunity, and a host of other health issues. Grain-fed cows on large, conventional dairies are sometimes given routine preventative antibiotics for these reasons.
Next is the farm operation itself. Managed grazing requires less fossil fuels, because feed is not continuously grown, processed, and shipped to the farm—their food is already there, growing, and eaten by the cows in a rotation that keeps the pastures fertile, healthy and growing. Growing corn and grain specifically for cattle feed uses huge amounts of resources, and often chemical fertilizers and pesticides. On a 100% grass-fed operation manure is spread over the pastures by roaming cows, replacing nutrients lost by the growing plants, rather than forming in feedlot pools and causing detrimental runoff. 100% grass-fed dairy farming works best with small herds, which supports both local economies and family farms, who in turn are able to claim the highest premium price for their milk.
Milk from grass-fed cows has a more favorable fatty acid profile than milk from conventionally-fed cows—it is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and lower in omega-6 fatty acids. Grass-fed cow’s milk has higher concentrations of the omega-3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), ecosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA). In addition, grass-fed cow’s milk is higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN 2000; 7f1(1):179S-88S), the recommended ratio of n-6:n-3 fatty acids in the diet is 2.3:1. Because the cow’s diet influences the nutritional profile of its milk, there is a substantial difference in the n-6:n-3 fatty acid ratios of grass-fed and conventional milk. Milk from grass-fed cows has a n-6:n-3 ratio of approximately 2.3:1—the recommended optimal ratio—compared to a ratio of 5.8:1 for milk from conventionally-fed cows.
In short, 100% grass-fed organically produced dairy is an outlier to the industrial food system, focusing on holistic care of both the animals and land, rather than an end goal of highest production and maximizing the bottom line at the cost of animal welfare and environmental concerns.
When did farmers start feeding grain to an animal that was really built for grass? And why?
Corn, grain, silage, and even manufacturing by-products are fed to cows for one reason only: the bottom line. It’s cheaper and easier to feed larger amounts of cows with grain-based feeding, rather than manage the animals on pasture. Some dairy farmers also believe that a grain-based diet increases milk production of the cows, but our cows do just fine on a diet of 100% grass.
What probably put American agriculture on the path to feeding grain to ruminants had nothing to do with agriculture, but more to do with war, specifically WWII.
Prior to WWII, most US farms were small and diversified. Cattle were put out to pasture and supplemented with very little if any grain or corn, as their natural place in a diversified farm was to consume grass. When peacetime arrived, there were many products and technologies from the war effort “looking for a home.” The WWII munitions industry’s surplus of nitrogen—once used to create bombs—found its home in agriculture, setting off the first “green revolution”--that was not so green in the end. With cheap and available nitrogen (one of the three synthetic fertilizers part of the N-P-K triad we still see on lawn fertilizers today) farmers could grow grain and corn crops much more quickly, and the American farmer could now “feed the world” – as well as its cows. The focus and the race towards higher yield and ever increasing crop production began, and feeding cows this now inexpensive grain and corn did as well. A grain-based diet for dairy cows became the norm, and the prevailing opinion—for quite some time—has been that any dairy farmer who attempted to raise their dairy cows on grass only was crazy—it couldn’t be done, and that “you can’t make milk with just grass”.
Well, we may be a little nutty at Maple Hill, but this opinion couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re adding more 100% grass-fed NY State dairy farms every few months, and making a little bit more yogurt each step of the way, and supporting a farming system that keeps long-term wellness of the animals and land at the forefront.
Wait a second. What do 100% grass cows eat in the winter?
During the winter, our 100% grass-fed cows eat hay (dried grass) and / or baleage, (fermented, high-moisture grass). Sometimes our farmers supplement with molasses or apple cider vinegar in the wintertime to maintain rumen health and provide extra minerals and nutrients for the cows. Our farms do not supplement with grain, corn, soy, or other foods in the wintertime.
How do I know if I am getting 100% grass fed dairy products?
Until recently, there was no provision or certification system for grass-fed dairy labeling in the United States. While there are guidelines for 100% grass-fed beef via the USDA, dairy production lies under the auspices of the FDA, which has no guidelines for 100% grass-fed dairy (or any grass-fed label claims). As the popularity of grass-fed animal products grows, more and more dairy companies are listing “pastured” or “grass-fed” on their packaging, despite the lack of oversight or definition of what these terms actually mean. Simply put, a food producer can currently claim that their dairy products are “grass-fed” and/or “pastured”, even if the cows are fed a diet of 90% grain and getting some grass, hay, or silage.
However, Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO), a USDA-accredited organic certifying agency, has developed a 100% Grassfed certification for meat and dairy producers, as well as food manufacturers. Through third-party certification, the 100% Grassfed certification offers a PCO 100% Grassfed seal to be used on all qualifying products, consumer communications, and marketing materials. We are proud to be the first dairy brand to bear this stringent certification.
The certification program is open to currently certified organic producers and handlers who are utilizing 100% grass-fed management practices, as well as those interested in transitioning to 100% grass-fed management. PCO designed the certification program to include a comprehensive training and transition program to educate potential producers on the key components of successful managed grazing.
Why do we need this? We believe in label transparency. Consumers deserve to know what they are paying for. The PCO 100% Grassfed Certification provides validation of grass-fed package claims, keeping the integrity of 100% grass-fed cattle intact. It also prevents the general term “grass-fed” from becoming another unfounded packaging claim or marketing lingo.
Is ALL the milk used to make Maple Hill Creamery products from 100% grass-fed cows?
Yes, every drop of milk used to make our products is from 100% grass-fed cows. Our farms pledge to keep their cows on pasture only in the grazing season, and fed only hay and some minerals in the winter.
Where can I learn more about 100% grass-fed dairy farming?
Please check out our “Why Grass?” infographic to learn about the huge impact 100% grass fed organic farming can have on animals, food systems, farm families, and the environment.
Great resources for finding 100% grass-fed dairy products and other information about the benefits of pastured and grass farming include the Weston A. Price foundation and EatWild.com.
Our Farms & Animals
What are A1 and A2 cows? And which type of cows live on yor farms?
A1 and A2 refers to the type of beta-casein—one type of protein found in cows’ milk (the other is whey). Most cows produce a combination of these two proteins. Some scientists and health practitioners believe that cow’s milk with a dominant or singular A2 protein type produce an easier-to-digest milk.
There is a significant amount of science that suggests that after cows were domesticated, a natural genetic mutation changed the amino acids from proline to histidine based, and created a different beta-casein protein, now referred to as A1. A1-dominant cows are usually the larger European breeds such as Holsteins and Friesian, which are most common in the US dairy industry.
We have not invested in any testing to determine if our cows are primarily A1 or A2 cows, or carry any percentage of A1 genes, although some of our farms are independently researching these options as they plan to breed to reach A2 genetics.
For more information on A1 and A2 cows, please start here on Keith Woodford’s website. Woodford is considered the leader in the A1 / A2 school of thought.
What farms does your milk come from?
As of the beginning 2015, we buy milk from approximately 30 family farms, all within 150 miles from our facility in Stuyvesant, New York. About half of our farms are Amish farms. All of our farms are small and independent, with herds ranging from 30 to 60 head. Please visit Our Farms if you're interested in learning more about these dedicated grass farmers, their families, and their amazing cows.
What breeds/kinds of cows live on your farms?
Our farms raise breeds of cows that do well on a pasture-based diet for many generations. Our farms tend to raise Jersey cows, Jersey crosses, Devon crosses, Dutch Belts, etc. Dharma Lea, our lead dairy also raises Ohonte cattle, a breed they have developed.
How are the cows on your farm treated?
As consumers become more interested in their foods’ origin and story, they often want to know what kind of life the animals lived. The most common questions we receive at Maple Hill Creamery are about dairy cows’ longevity and health and the treatment of their calves.
Cows who live on dairy farms that practice managed grazing have undeniably different lives than cows on large, industrial dairies. In general, their living conditions are much more enjoyable (pasture, sun, and grazing vs. being confined in a feeding barn). Our cows are fed the diet they evolved to eat, and do not suffer from the maladies common in cows fed a grain or corn based diet. The cows on our farms live an average of 8 to 10 years, compared to 2 or 3 for conventional dairy cows, who are culled after production drops.
General Product Information
Why don't you make low-fat or non-fat products? Isn't fat bad for you?
The lipid profile in 100% grass-fed cows’ milk is very different from the fat from cows fed corn and grain. Some recent science shows that it has a balanced omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. Milk from cows fed a traditional ration of hay, corn, and grain have a ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 of up to 5:1 (5 parts Omega 6 to 1 part Omega 3). This imbalance and higher level of Omega 6 fats has been conclusively linked to a number of inflammatory and chronic diseases in humans. Feeding cows their diet of grass, and nothing but grass, the ratio returns to closer to 2.3:1, which happens to be the ratio that is also optimal for health in humans.
This leads us to what we call our "Salmon Analogy". Wild salmon is a fish rich with naturally-occurring heart-healthy Omega- 3 fats. If it were possible to produce or create “low fat” or “skim” salmon, it would probably taste bad, but more importantly “skim salmon” would have a large portion of the food value removed, as the majority of the benefits would be removed along with the fat. Would you eat "Skim Salmon"?
Avoiding full-fat dairy products has long been lauded as a "healthy" lifestyle choice. However, reduced-fat and non-fat dairy products often contain thickeners, excessive sugar and flavors, and other ingredients that are added to make them taste better. The long-followed advice of eating a low-fat diet for health is beginning to unravel in the reality of the obesity epidemic.
In short, we believe in eating the whole food, especially when it's been produced in a way that sidesteps many of the problems inherent in the production model of the industrial food system.
Are there any allergens in your products or manufactured in your facility?
Our manufacturing plants are dedicated dairy processing facilities and are free of the following common food allergens: soy, nuts, tree nuts, peanuts, gluten, shellfish, and eggs.
Are you Kosher?
All of our yogurt and kefir products are certified OU Kosher.
Are all your products free from GMOs?
Yes, our products are free from GMOs. Most organic dairy processors can circumvent GMOs by obtaining milk from farmers who purchase and feed their cows only organic grains (in addition to the 30% grazing requirement for certified organic dairy).
In contrast, we are free from GMOs simply because our farms' cows just eat the dozens grasses and plants found in our farms pastures, and from what we've heard, Monsanto isn't interested in modifying Meadow Timothy or White Sweetclover as of yet.
Is your milk pasteurized?
Our milk is pasteurized (180 degrees / 30 minutes) for all our yogurt and kefir products as it is an important step of the yogurt making process and is required by Federal Law.
However, we support the right of consumers to purchase and consume raw dairy products. Our friends at the Weston A. Price foundation have great resources and information about the benefits of raw milk.
Classic Cream On Top
What is the Cream On Top in your Classic Cream On Top?
This “cream on top” of our yogurt is a layer of milk fat that rises as the yogurt cools and settles during the culturing process. This occurs naturally when milk is not homogenized. The old saying “the cream rises to the top” has special meaning for us at Maple Hill Creamery. We consider our cream on top to be the hallmark of an artisanal-quality, less processed dairy product. And our fans agree!
How do you flavor the non-plain Cream On Top varieties?
We flavor our Classic Cream On Top Vanilla, Lemon, and Orange Crème varieties with real, organic extracts (rather than “natural” flavors that are often made with chemicals to cheaply replicate the real thing). We use only organic, real maple syrup in our Maple flavor, and wild blueberries (from Maine and Quebec) in our Wild Blueberry variety.
Our flavor motto is “yogurt first, flavor second”. We think that any added flavor should play second fiddle to the yogurt itself, not the other way around, so that you can fully enjoy the true essence of our zingy, fresh yogurt.
Your Classic Cream On Top yogurt isn't very sweet! Is it low sugar?
We don’t add much sugar to our yogurt, because think any sweetener or flavor should subtly enhance the zingy, fresh flavor of Maple Hill, not mask it. We also believe in transparency in food labeling, so here’s a helpful breakdown for added sugar:
In each six-ounce serving of our Classic Cream On Top yogurt, 8 grams of the carbohydrate content come from the naturally occurring lactose in the milk. The remaining grams of carbohydrate content come from added organic sugar, pure maple syrup, fruit puree, or combination thereof.
We add the equivalent of 1.75 teaspoons (7 grams) of sugar to our Lemon and Orange Crème flavors (each totals 14 and 15 grams of carbohydrates).
We add the equivalent of 1.75 teaspoons (7 grams) of pure maple syrup to our Maple flavor (15 grams of carbohydrates total). We use only maple syrup to sweeten this variety, along with some vanilla extract to enrich the overall taste.
We add the equivalent of 1.75 teaspoons (7 grams) of organic sugar to our Vanilla flavor (15 grams of carbohydrate total).
We add the equivalent of 1.50 (6 grams) of organic sugar to our Wild Blueberry flavor, with 1 gram of carbohydrates coming from the berry puree (15 grams of carbohydrate total).
By comparison, most other “natural” and organic yogurts on the market have an average of 3.0 – 5.0 teaspoons of added sugar per six-ounce serving. Highly-processed, conventional brands can be even higher.
Why is your Classic Cream On Top yogurt so tangy / earthy tasting?
Maple Hill Creamery Classic Cream On Top yogurt is a “yogurt eater’s yogurt”: zingy, tart, and with a distinctly stronger flavor than most yogurt sold in the U.S. because of our milk and our culture process.
100% grass-fed, non-homogenized milk is a seasonal food. Unlike the milk from conventional cows, grass-fed milk changes throughout the year, and the flavor of the milk is more noticeable. When cows eat a variety of grass and other plants, instead of grain or corn, there is a marked difference in the flavor and even odor of the milk. So, in essence, what you are tasting is the grass that the cows munched on. In the summer the flavor is often more “earthy”, and in the winter months, this cream layer is thicker.
We also favor a longer, slower culturing process than most yogurt brands, allowing the flavor and texture to develop to our trademark velvety-light smoothness. You can’t rush yogurt this good!
Do you add any thickeners or stabilizers to your yogurt?
No, we don’t add gum’s, milk protein powder, carrageenan, or other commonly used yogurt additives to change the consistency of our yogurt—its creamy texture is the result of our slow culture process and our high-quality, full-fat milk.
Do you add any preservatives to your yogurt?
We do not add any preservatives to our Classic Cream On Top yogurt.
What cultures are added to your yogurt?
We use the following cultures for our Classic Cream On Top yogurt: Bifidobacterium lactis, lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp., Bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus.
We use the following culture for our Drinkable yogurt: Streptococcus themophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp bulgaricus, Lactobacillus casei,Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactococcus lactis subsp. Cremoris,Lactococcus lactis subsp. Lactis biovar diacetylactis,Leuconostoc mesenteroides ssp. Cremoris,Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp lacris.
Whole Milk Greek Yogurt
How is your Greek yogurt different from your Classic Cream On Top yogurt?
The main difference between the two styles of yogurt is that our Greek yogurt is strained during the manufacturing process, which means the majority of the liquid whey is removed. Straining results in a thicker, more concentrated “spoonable” style yogurt. We also use a different type of yogurt cultures in our Greek yogurt, creating a milder, less tangy flavor profile than our Classic Cream On Top yogurt.
Why do you add pectin, ascorbic acid, and citric acid to your Whole Milk Greek Yogurt?
Our fruit prep contains these ingredients, which are necessary in order for the fruit to blend properly with the yogurt. In essence, our fruit prep is comparable to jam, which is made with fruit, pectin, and sugar. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and citric acid are added to preserve the freshness of the fruit, which would otherwise break down / deteriorate in the yogurt.
How do your Whole Milk Greek yogurt and your Classic Cream On Top yogurt differ nutritionally?
Due to the straining process, the nutritional profile of our Whole Milk Greek yogurt and our Classic Cream On Top yogurt is slightly different:
Protein: Our Greek yogurt has about 2x the amount of protein (average of 11-12 grams of protein per 5.3 oz. serving) compared to our Classic Cream On Top yogurt (average of 6 grams of protein per 6.0 oz. serving).
Calcium: Our Greek yogurt has less calcium (average of 10% Daily Value per 5.3 oz. cup) compared to our Classic Cream On Top yogurt (average of 20% - 25% Daily Value per 6.0 oz. cup).
Fat: Our Greek yogurt has less total fat (average of 6 grams per 5.3 oz. cup) compared to our Classic Cream On Top yogurt (average of 7-8 grams per 6 oz. cup).
What do you do with the whey by-product from manufacturing your Whole Milk Greek Yogurt?
We currently send our whey to an anaerobic digester, which creates methane for energy use. Our future plans are to send our whey to pastured pork producers. We are committed to not creating / adding to the overproduction and disposal issue of whey that has become problematic for some yogurt producers.
Is your Whole Milk Greek yogurt low in added sugar?
We add about the same amount of added sugar (not much!) to our Whole Milk Greek yogurt as we do to our Classic Cream On Top yogurt. On average, our Greek flavors have about 4-5 grams LESS (about 1 – 1.25 teaspoons) of added sugar than other national organic Greek yogurt brands.
What cultures do you add to your Whole Milk Greek Yogurt?
We use the following cultures for our Greek yogurt: L. Delbrueckii subsp., Bulgaricus and S. thermophiles.
Do you add preservatives to your Whole Milk Greek Yogurt?
We do not add any preservatives to our yogurt. Our Greek yogurt's fruit jam preparation has added fruit pectin and citric acid to stabilize the fruit once it is mixed with the strained yogurt. These additives are the same as used for making jam and jellies, whether at home or on a commercial scale.
How do you flavor the non-plain varieties of your Whole Milk Greek Yogurt?
We flavor our Greek yogurt with high-quality organic fruit preparations that contain fruit, sugar, pectin, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) / citric acid.
Whole Milk Kefir
What is Kefir?
What's the difference between your Whole Milk Kefir and your Whole Milk Yogurts?
The main difference between our yogurt and kefir are the type of cultures we add to the milk to create the finished product. We incubate the culture in our Kefir for approximately eight (8) hours. We use the following cultures in our Kefir:
Streptococcus thermophilus, L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, L. rhamnosus, L. casei, L. lactis subsp. lactis, L. lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis, Leuconostoc cremoris, Bifidobacterium lactis, L. lactis subsp. cremoris, L. acidophilus.
Like all of our other products, we make every drop of our kefir exclusively with our third-party certified, 100% grass-fed whole milk from the Maple Hill Creamery Milkshed, our family of farms in New York State.
What size and flavors is your Whole Milk Kefir available in?
Our Kefir is available in 32-ounce containers in three flavors: Plain, Vanilla, and Strawberry.
Is your Whole Milk Kefir probiotic? What does that mean?
Like other cultured dairy products, our kefir contains ten live and active probiotic “good” bacteria (i.e., cultures) that, when ingested, can be beneficial for our health—especially our digestive and immune systems. So drink up a belly-friendly cup!
How much added sugar is in your Whole Milk Kefir?
When it comes to sweetness, we believe less is more. Our flavored kefir varieties are very low in added sugar—about 1.75 to 2 teaspoons (7-8 grams) per eight ounce serving. Most national organic brands of whole milk kefir average an added 3-4.5 teaspoons (12-18 grams) of added sugar per serving. Our Plain Whole Milk Kefir has no added sugar; the 11 grams of carbohydrates listed on the Nutrition Facts Panel comes from naturally occurring lactose (milk sugar).
Does your Whole Milk Kefir have any preservatives or additives?
Our Whole Milk Kefir’s ultra-smooth texture comes from our highest-quality 100% grass-fed whole milk—not gums or thickeners. Unlike most kefir brands, we don’t add color or “natural” flavors to replicate using real fruit. And, like our other products, we keep it simple and authentic—using only organic fruit and real flavor extracts to create subtly flavored varieties.
How can I use Kefir?
While Kefir is traditionally consumed as a beverage, there are lots of other ways to enjoy it, including:
Smoothie base—add your own tweaks (chia, greens, bananas)
Pour over fresh fruit, granola, or warm fruit cobblers / crisps
Freeze in molds for creamy popsicles
Use as a 1-to-1 replacement for buttermilk in baking recipes
Use as marinade base for lamb, chicken or beef
Raw Milk Cheeses