Since we recently started selling our whole cows’ milk (in addition
to our whole goats’ milk), we’ve received a lot of questions about
milk, its terminology, and the difference between our milk and
typical store-bought milk. Whereas most milk is flash-pasteurized and
homogenized, our whole milk is gently batch-pasteurized and is not
homogenized to ensure the milk retains its integrity and flavour. I
apologize in advance for the length of this newsletter, but I hope to
provide enough information to clear up some of the confusion.
PASTEURIZATION: a heat-treatment which kills dangerous bacteria that
may exist in the milk. Because milk is a body fluid of animals that
live in a barn environment where there is manure and other organisms
such as insects and bacteria, it is possible for pathogens to enter
the milk. While milk is not necessarily infected with these bacteria
(under normal conditions it is not), it is still possible for milk to
become infected post-milking. Milk is a perfect food source for
bacteria, so it is deemed a high risk food.
We produce the highest quality milk by good management practices, and
have never had any incidence of pathogens in our milk or cheese.
However, we are legally required to pasteurize milk for sale or milk
used for cheeses aged less than sixty days by Canadian law. At the
Farm House, we pasteurize at the lowest possible temperature using
gentle methods, so the milk retains as much of its healthy bacteria
and enzymes as possible.
HOMOGENIZATION: a process whereby the milk is extruded through a very
tiny nozzle in order to break down the fat globules so they can no
longer clump together and rise to the top of the milk as cream. They
are so small that they stay suspended in the milk, making it
“homogenous”. Unfortunately this process destroys the natural ability
of the fat to protect itself against spoiling, so homogenized milk,
when spoiled, is not “sour” like old-fashioned milk, but goes
“rancid”. Homogenized milk cannot be used in most cheesemaking, as
its structure has been destroyed.
Whereas most milk is homogenized, we do not apply this process to our
milk as we feel it destroys much of the integrity of the milk. This
is why our milk must be shaken before drinking, as the cream rises to
the top. Our milk is whole, which gives it the most flavour and that
creamy yellow colour. If you would prefer skim milk, however, simply
skim the cream off the top (and use for your coffee, etc.), and enjoy
the milk at whatever butterfat content you desire.
YELLOW COWS’ MILK, WHITE GOATS’ MILK:
If you’ve seen our cows’ milk and goats’ milk side-by-side, you may
have wondered about the dramatic difference in colour. We don’t add
any colouring, stabilizers, or preservatives to any of our milk and
cheeses – the difference in colour comes from the cows and goats
themselves. The yellow “creamy” colour of the cows’ milk comes from
the beta-carotene found in the grass and hay that the animals eat,
which is deposited in the fat of their milk. In fact Guernsey cows,
like the ones we have, produce more beta-carotene than any other
breed resulting in a golden-coloured milk. In contrast, goats convert
the beta-carotene into pure vitamin A, which is colourless, thus
making goats’ milk and cheese white.
WHERE TO BUY?
– Vancouver Winter Farmers Market (Nat Bailey Stadium) – every Saturday starting Feb 1
– All Vancouver Whole Foods Locations
– Wheelhouse Seafoods (East Van)
– Beast & Brine (Crescent Beach)
– Antony & Sons (Surrey)
– Lepp Farm Market (Abbotsford)