Explore Vermont, the Green Mountain State
Sam and I loved scooting around Vermont and exploring the Green Mountains, maple syrup farms and covered bridges. We also visited some great cheese farms, did some hiking and got to see some famous Vermont marble.
In Burlington, we picked up a map for Vermont’s Cheese Trail. The map showed us where all the cheese farms are across the state. The first farm we visited on the map was near Lake Champlain. The farm is famous for its cheddar cheese. There, we met a cheesemaker named Zak.
First, Zak showed us the cows that are milked every day. Then, he took us up to the building where the milk is processed.
“The first thing we do is add rennet to the milk,” Zak said. “Rennet is a natural substance found in animals and some plants. The rennet makes the milk separate into whey, which is the watery part of the milk, and curds, which is the solid part of the milk.” He put on a plastic glove and dipped his hand into a big bin of white, squishy curds. “Cheese is made from these curds. The curds are eventually formed into blocks and “aged” before being cut and covered in wax to prevent mold from growing on the cheese,” he said. We tried some cheese that was 6 months old. It was creamy and delicious!
We thanked Zak for the cheesemaking tour and hopped on our scooter. Next, we drove north to Stowe and visited a goat and sheep dairy farm. The goat and sheep’s milk cheese was softer than the cow’s milk cheese we tasted at the first farm. At the farm, we also saw big bins of sheep’s wool that the farmers turn into yarn.
Stowe is a beautiful town in the Green Mountains where visitors come to ski in the winter and explore the area’s lakes, rivers, waterfalls and trails in the summer. Stowe is located right next to the highest mountain in Vermont, Mt. Mansfield, which is more than 4,000 feet high. Mt. Mansfield’s ridgeline looks like the profile of a man’s face so its summits and main features are named Adams Apple, Chin, Nose and Forehead. Every summer, runners come to run 4.3 miles up a part of Mt. Mansfield in the Race to the Top of Vermont.
Vermont is also famous for its marble, which was discovered in great quantity in the mountains in the 1700s. Since then, Vermont’s marble has been used in many buildings in the USA and around the world. We visited the historic Vermont State House in Montpelier and walked on its beautiful, smooth “checkerboard” floor, which is made up of Vermont’s white and black marble. Vermont marble is still widely used today.
There was so much to enjoy in Vermont that we don’t want to leave! Scroll down to see our Favorites, Photos and the Activity section where you can learn how to make your own cheese.
Sofia and Sam
East Dorset Marble Quarry
In Dorset, we visited one of the oldest marble quarries in the USA. Marble was first mined here in 1785. The marble was used in many grand buildings, including the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Activity: Horseback Riding
Vermont is a rural state full of farms, parks, mountains, lakes and trails. I loved going horseback riding on a trail near Mt. Mansfield in Stowe. Riding on the horse made me feel very tall, and I had a great view of the forest.
Food: Pumpkin Soup
Many of Vermont’s apple, berry and maple syrup farms also grow pumpkins. In the fall, the Vermont countryside is full of them! I had a bowl of pumpkin soup in Montpelier and loved how creamy it was.
Moss Glen Falls
When Sam and I drove our scooter up Highway 100, we saw the sign for Moss Glen Falls, which is one of the highest waterfalls in Vermont. It was an easy walk to the top of the falls. I loved seeing the water cascade over the rocks.
Activity: Collecting Sap
I really enjoyed our visit to a maple syrup farm. We drilled a small hole (which is called “tapping”) into the trunk of a large maple tree, inserted a spout, hung a bucket under the spout and watched the sap slowly drip into the bucket.
Food: Maple Syrup Candy
I had a piece of maple syrup candy at a maple syrup farm in Vermont. The candy is made by heating maple syrup until it starts to get a little hard. The syrup is then poured into candy molds to cool. The candy is slightly soft when it is ready to eat and is very tasty!
How to Make Your Own Cheese
Vermont cheese is famous worldwide. Vermont cheesemakers make hundreds of different kinds of cheese, from soft cheeses like Chevre and Brie to harder cheeses like Gouda and Cheddar. Try making your own cheese by following this easy recipe.
- 1 gallon whole milk (avoid ultra pasteurized)
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- Food thermometer
- 1 cheesecloth, folded in half
- Pour the milk into a large pot. Bring the milk to a boil over medium heat. Stir regularly so the milk doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.
- When the milk begins to boil and reaches a temperature of 190 degrees Fahrenheit on your food thermometer, remove the milk from the heat. Stir in the salt and white vinegar.*
- Let the milk sit for 10 minutes.
- Line a colander with the cheesecloth and pour the milk into the cheesecloth. The cheesecloth will "catch" the milk curds (which is the cheese) and let the whey through.
- Gather the cheesecloth around the curds and squeeze out all the extra whey. This might take a lot of squeezing!**
- Your cheese is ready to eat! Have some cheese on fresh whole wheat bread. Wrap the rest of it in plastic or put in a container and store in the refrigerator.***
*You can add spices and herbs to your milk at this stage.
**The whey should be a light yellow color. You can save the whey and drink it or use it like milk.
***The cheese you made will be good to eat for 1 week.