Raw Milk

Raw Milk in a lovely earthenware vessel made by my sister.

Do you know about Raw Milk?

Well, we certainly didn’t really know much about raw milk until last weekend, when we finally came face to face with that elusive, slightly illegal, mysterious substance.  We had heard all of the stories: raw milk was healthier, because it was not pasteurized and retained good bacteria and enzymes; raw milk tasted better; raw milk is considered unsafe by policymakers because it could make people ill and send people in an anti-dairy panic.

In Massachusetts, raw milk must be bought directly from the farm, and you sometimes even need to sign a waiver acknowledging the potential risks of consuming something unpasteurized.  There are buying clubs that people go to the farm and buy a lot of milk and store it somewhere in the city for people to pick up.  These clubs are essentially in legal limbo until MA policymakers decide if they will explicitly ban them.

We don’t eat a lot of dairy, but our curiosity was certainly piqued.  We knew that raw milk based cheeses were delicious, and that Sidehill Yogurt was beyond divine.  So, while at Sidehill Farm last weekend, we picked up two huge gallons of raw milk for our culinary adventures.

When we got home, we giddily opened one of the jugs of milk and took glassfuls.  We sat down and prepared ourselves.  Then drank.

What we experienced was a very complex sensory experience.  The milk was delicious.  We have had high quality milk before and so the goodness was expected.  Normally, good milk has a bold body and sweet finish.  Raw milk had the same idea, but the body was heavy and musky, grassy almost, with this fatty nourishing quality.  Then a very sweet undertone that was reminiscent of honey.  We sat there and for the first time really contemplated milk as a super food.  We also vowed never to buy milk that you get from the grocery store ever again.

I will admit that I am personally allergic to dairy and lactose intolerant (If there was any better sign from god that I ought not drink this stuff, I would be dead).  Although I do have dairy usually in the form of cheese and yogurt, which affects me much less.  I was curious to see if this stuff affected me better or worse than regular milk.  I drank quite a bit the first few days and found that I was affected as by normal milk, but not as badly, which was sort of nice.  But by mid-week I had to stop drinking it straight and began thinking about making yogurt. Theresa who is only mildly sensitive to dairy found that it did not affect her at all. So it might be an option for those who are only a little sensitive.

This week, we have used the raw milk for drinking and cooking.  We have enjoyed it for both, although some say that cooking it makes it no better than normal milk (which is logical, however the quality of the milk is still superior although ‘pasteurized’ by cooking).  We realized we wouldn’t be able to drink all of it this week, especially since I couldn’t drink it by the glassful anymore.  So we set to freezing the second gallon for future uses.  People online have said that it freezes fine if you skim all the cream otherwise the texture is questionable when you thaw it.  Our milk still had a top layer of second skim cream that was easily shaken into the milk.  So, being the scientists that we were (or used to be), we came up with a strategy that resembled a trick used in chromatography (it really wasn’t that sophisticated, I assure you).

Our intrepid attempt to separate the cream from the skimmed milk, using gravity flow.

It worked pretty well and we froze it all down, to be thawed in the future for dairy filled endeavors.

By the end of the week, we still have some left- I might still make that yogurt.  It also interestingly has aged over the week and the sweet undertones have become more subtle, which may be because lactose eating bacteria might be present. Still quite good, refreshing and nourishing.

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