Slate River Dairy is rooted in a long history of dairy farming. Owners Wilma and Jim Mol have been working on farms and specializing in dairy products for generations.
“We both came from dairy farming back ground and bought our dairy farm in 1996, which is located in Neebing," Wilma says. "We saw a decline in the quality of dairy products in the grocery store. A lot of dairy products have additive and filler, like cornstarch, carrageen, skim milk powder and milk isolates.”
To make a change to this situation, they thought the best thing to do was produce their own milk and offer their own supreme quality dairy products — made with whole milk where they leave all the goodness in the milk. Keeping the processing to a minimum while providing a safe product according to Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs standards.
“We did a lot of research and took some courses at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisc. We visited a lot of small on farm dairies in Canada, the USA and our home country the Netherlands. We learned the difference of pasteurization methods and settled on vat pasteurization which is a much gentler pasteurization than HTST (High Temperature Short Time) pasteurizer.”
They decided to not homogenize, so the cream in Slate River’s milk will rise to the top the way it does in raw milk. They do not standardize their milk into 3.25 per cent milk fat whole milk — which means putting milk through a separator where it separates into cream and skim milk then taking the cream and putting it back with the skim to make exactly 3.25 per cent milk fat milk. They use the milk as the cow provides it. This will fluctuate between 3.8 per cent milk fat in the summer to 4.4 per cent milk fat in the winter. They also started to milk more jersey cows on the farm. Jersey cows provide more protein in the milk and also a higher milk fat percentage.
Slate River Dairy always tells people as soon as you take off the milk fat in milk, you take away the taste and Vitamin A. Therefore they make their cocoa (chocolate milk) with whole milk. If they would make it with a 1 per cent milk fat milk, they would need to add twice as much sugar to it to still make it taste good.
Milk from a cow is made up of about 87 per cent water, cows put a lot of vitamins and minerals in the milk that are water soluble so that would be in the “water” part of milk. Then milk has about 5 per cent milk sugar, or lactose, 4 per cent milk fat (which contains Vitamin A which is fat soluble) and 3.3 per cent protein and about 0.7 per cent other solids. By using whole milk for most of the products, Slate River Dairy keeps the flavour and nutrition in the milk the way it was meant to be.
Slate River Dairy’s cocoa milk is one of their most popular products. They are a ‘harvest host’ where they host campers to come and stay overnight in their parking lot with a membership. Visitors come because they have heard or read reviews about Slate River Dairy’s famous cocoa milk.
Slate River Dairy also has two seasonal products: eggnog and mocha-nogg. Every year they get asked, when they will start making these products. Their nog is made from scratch with wholesome ingredients and not from pre-made powders just added to the milk.
“We don’t sell coffee cream but most people will use either our whole milk for their coffee or our whipping cream. We do warn people, that if they try their coffee with our whipping cream once, they will not be able to go back to regular cream,” Wilma says.
Wilma and Jim may be adding a popular dessert to their product line sometime in the future.
“Way, way, way, back in our minds is ice cream. We can’t say this out loud, then people will start asking for it,” Wilma laughs. “We would love to be making this but it will take some planning, expensive equipment and recipes. Since we make everything from scratch and we develop all our own recipes this takes time.”
“Investigating what the best equipment is for making ice cream takes time as well. Taking training on how to make ice-cream is available but usually is a week of training, and is offered out of town. Right now we don’t have time for training so this will stay on the back burner for a while yet.”
Slate River Dairy just made their first batch of eggnog for the season and will make a few more before Christmas. Their products are available at: The Cheese Encounter, Fresco’s Deli, Dawson General Store, Parrs Jarrs, Superiors Seasons, Thunder Bay Country Market and of course directly from Slate River Dairy Farm Store.
People can order products from their website and have it delivered to their homes, if they live in our delivery area. Or they can order online to secure the product and pick it up at the Thunder Bay Country Market or their on-farm store. This is a great way for people who don’t live in Thunder Bay but come to the city regularly to purchase their products, without having to worry about them running out of a specific product before they can come to the market.
For people that live in the Dryden area, they can order our products through ParrJars. The owner of ParrJars makes a trip to Thunder Bay every second week to pick up products together with other local products from Thunder Oak Cheese Farm, DeBruin's Greenhouse, Brule Creek Farm, to name a few and takes all that back to Dryden and sells it there.
Slate River Dairy’s Store Hours
- Monday: Closed
- Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 5pm
- Thursday: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sunday: Closed