What is raw milk? Raw milk is milk straight from the animal (cow, goat, sheep, camel…) that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. Raw milk retains all of it’s beneficial bacteria (which naturally keeps bad bacteria in check), all of its original proteins/carbs/fat/vitamins/minerals that are damaged, diminished, or completely destroyed through pasteurization. Raw milk can then in turn be soured, cultured, etc. Raw milk before refrigeration was usually turned into some sort of other dairy product, such as cheese or butter, to store it. Most people who cannot drink cow’s milk often find that they can eat raw milk/raw milk products with no issue (this is because raw milk retains the enzymes that the body needs to break down milk sugars. These enzymes are destroyed in pasteurization).
My raw milk journey began with a research paper I did for college a year or two ago on the benefits of raw milk and the current legislative restrictions regarding its sale. I skimmed the RealMilk website and that was about it. I had no idea where to get raw milk or how. Until last year, I had mostly put it to the back of my mind. Then I heard through the grapevine of a place to get goat’s milk. I grew up on raw goat’s milk that I had helped milk myself (my aunt raised Saanan goats) so I gave it a try. It was a hassle to try and get a hold of, and kind of expensive ($6 a quart I believe). I got it twice and it was alright, not sure what breed it came from. After that I put it on the back burner again until I started my Folklore Foods class. It re-kindled my interest and my search for raw cow’s milk, which finally bore fruit.
1. Drinking raw milk.
– Raw milk is definitely different than milk you get from the store. For one, it changes flavors. It changes throughout the year, and depends on the breed of cow and their diet. It has a much stronger flavor, which can sometimes taste “off” because of something that was eaten or when the frost kills the grass and it tries to grow back the chemical makeup of the grass is slightly different and is reflected in the milk. It doesn’t mean it has gone bad, however.
2. Other than drinking it, what do you do with it?
– Culture it (i.e. kefir, sour cream, buttermilk, etc.)
– Turn it into yogurt, butter/cultured butter, buttermilk, curds and whey, cheese, etc.
* After just trying it straight, I attempted to make curds and whey. The curds are essentially cream cheese, and the whey is what you use to make fermented foods (another traditional food prep method we’ll go over in the future). Whey is also a bi-product of cheese making and from yogurt (ever open a package of yogurt and see a yellow-ish liquid floating separate from your yogurt? That’s whey). When trying to clabber milk/get curds and whey, the warmer it is the faster it separates. The Nourishing Traditions book says to leave out on the counter in a covered jar for 12-48 hours, I had to leave mine out for almost 5 days before it really separated. If you want clabber (Lazy Lady Yogurt) leave it out till just before it actually separates. I also noticed with mine that the cream would separate to the top, then the bottom would be all together, but when you pour it through a cloth-lined seive to get the whey out of the curds it is actually separated.
* The curds were very strong in flavor, and have an interesting texture (more grainy than creamcheese) and I usually eat it on toast with honey. The whey is a soft yellow color and can be used for all kinds of things. The first thing I used it in was as a soak for oats. This helps to make the oats easier to digest and breaks down antinutrients (an example is gluten, or phitates) that are found in grains, some seeds and nuts, and legumes. I take a cup of steel cut rolled oats or regular oats and a cup of warm water+2 Tbsp whey and set it in a bowl over night, covered loosely. In the morning I add another cup of water and cook it for 5-10 minutes on the stove, then add maple syrup, cinnamon and sometimes pieces of fruit and raw milk.
* Oh, almost forgot! My favorite way to drink raw milk: set it to simmer on the stove, add dried dates. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, or longer. Mash dates to release flavor, pour through seive and drink warm. I also tried it once with some Oregon Chai. Yum! A thermometer would probably be useful here as well, since you don’t want to heat raw milk any higher than 110 degrees (for cooking, drinking, or yogurt making) because if you go higher than that you begin to pasteurize it killing all the beneficial enzymes and such.
* Yogurt: I didn’t have a thermometer, which I will be getting before I make yogurt again. I also don’t have a yogurt maker. I followed the yogurt recipe in Nourishing Traditions, using a few tabespoons of organic vanilla-flavored (I should have used Plain probably but it turned out fine) yogurt from the store as my “culture”. I cultured my yogurt in the oven, which was very hard to keep at 110 degrees, but it turned out and I got 2 pints of yogurt in the end which, regardless of the very potent flavor, was very good.
My Middle Eastern Dinner
Main dish: browned goat meat with herbs and rice (my first time ever having goat meat, it was local and amazing!).
Drink: raw milk simmered in dates with a dash of local raw honey.
Side dish: homemade raw milk yogurt with the dates from the milk added with a bit of local raw honey as well.