Are you a milk drinker? I have to confess – I wasn’t much of one growing up – in fact, if we had cold cereal, it was with soy milk, and we never drank milk by the glass. I commend my mother for doing what she thought was best for us at the time, but recent studies have shown us what a poor and even dangerous substitute soy products are, and just how essential good, raw milk is to a nourishing diet.
I was excited when we moved to our new place this summer to have a nieghbor ‘introduce’ me to her milk supply – the bulk tank at the nearest Mennonite Dairy Farm. We had lost our raw milk supply last year when the Amish family we had bought it from had sold their cows. It can be tricky to find a raw milk supply in some states because of regulations. But this family is kind enough to let us draw milk from their bulk tank before the milk tanker comes, and thus I once again have a good supply of yummy, farm fresh, unpasteurized milk.
Why am I so excited about this? Why do I fill my trunk with glass milk jugs once a week and spend my morning fetching up to 10 gallons of milk and delivering it to family and friends around the neighborhood? Because I am convinced of the benefits of raw milk, and love the chance to provide it for my family and friends. Here are just a few reasons to avoid store bought, pasteurized milk…
• Pasteurization’s benefits have been highly exagerated. The modern milking machine and stainless steel tank, along with efficient packaging and distributions make pasteurization totally unnecessary for the purposes of sanitation. It is no guarantee of cleanliness. All outbreaks of salmonella from contaminated milk in recent decades have occurred in pasteurized milk.
• Heat alters milk’s amino acids lysine and tyrosine, making the whole complex of proteins less available; it promotes rancidity of unsaturated fatty acids and destruction of vitamins.
• Pasteurization destroys all the enzymes in milk – enzymes that help the body assimilate all body building factors, including calcium.
• Pasteurization destroys helpful organisms, leaving the finished product devoid of any protective mechanism should undesirable bacteria inadvertently contaminate the supply. Raw milk in time turns pleasantly sour, while pasteurized milk, lacking beneficial bacteria, will putrefy.
(the above information is taken from “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon)
I hope this isn’t information overload for you all – I just wanted to make sure I gave you a bit of foundation before I moved on to the practical recipes and ideas I have to share. If you question any of this or want to study it further, again, I recommend the Real Milk site, full of information and research.
I regularly get 2-4 gallons of milk for our little family each week. “What do we do with all of it”, you may ask?! Well, first,
• We drink it by the glass – at nearly every meal! A habit that was unfamiliar but not hard to form at all! Just think – instead of diluting your stomache’s digestive juices by gulping down water at meals, you are aiding digestion by drinking an enzyme-rich beverage that goes good with everything!
• I skim the milk and save the cream for cooking and for Jeremy’s coffee. I never have to buy 1/2 and 1/2 anymore – and it saves a couple dollars each week in the grocery envelope! And I have all the cream I want for rich, yummy soups!
• I make my own yogurt – this is so much cheaper than buying the only comparable thing on the market – Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Yogurt, which is about $4 per 32oz container. I can make a gallon of yogurt in a few minutes for less than $3 per batch. Check out my recipe here.
• I make Whey. This is absolutely the easiest thing to do with your milk, and has so many healthy uses and benefits!
I spend $2 a gallon on raw milk, about $6-8 a week. I figure I’m saving twice that in our food budget by turning a few gallons of it into nutritious by-products. In the new year I hope to perfect my mozzarella cheese techniques, and begin experimenting with harder cheeses, as well as making my own sour cream!
2 Quarts raw milk
Place milk in a clean glass container and allow it to stand at room temperature 1-4 days until it separates. Line a colander over a large bowl with a clean dish towel or very find cheesecloth. Pour in separated milk and let stand at room temperature for several hours. The whey will run into the bowl and the milk solids will stay in the colander. Tie up the towel with the milk solids inside, being careful not to squeeze. Tie this little sack to a wooden spoon placed across the top of a container so that more whey can drip out. When the bag stops dripping, the cheese is ready. Store whey in a mason jar and cream cheese in a covered glass container. Refrigerated, the cream cheese keeps for about 1 month, and the whey for about 6 months. (recipe from Nourishing Traditions)
The first time I made whey, I put a little sign on the jar, just in case Jeremy thought I had left the milk out on accident – “Whey in Progress – Leave on Counter!”☺ I finish straining my cheese overnight in the fridge so it does not keep souring and will be as sweet as possible. I use the whey in place of yogurt now in all of my grain soaking recipes and lacto fermenting experiments. And the
“cream cheese is far superior to the commercial variety, which is produced by putting milk under high pressure and not by the beneficial action of lactic-acid produced bacteria.” Nourishing Traditions
If you do not have a source for raw milk, but still want to try making whey, you can use yogurt! You know that liquid that sometimes separates in a jar of yogurt? That’s whey, too! You can strain it just like the soured milk, and you will get the whey and the cheese. Thought it won’t have all the raw goodness in it, you will get the benefits of lacto fermentation and can use it in all the same recipes.
Next week I plan on sharing some of my favorite Whey and Cream Cheese Recipes, so find yourself some raw milk this week and get it souring!
Meanwhile, check out these recipes from the archives that use raw milk, whey, or cream cheese…
Eggnog – Four Cheese Tortellini – Raw Ice Cream – Soaked Tortillas
Anna L. says
I’m six months pregnant and I am interested in starting to drink/use raw milk. Is it safe to start now, in the middle of my pregnancy?
Anna, as with anything that introduces good bacteria to your gut (sauerkraut, yogurt, kombucha, kefir, etc.) you will want to start small and let your body get used to all the new ‘goodness’.
Did you say $2 a gallon?? Wow. The best I’ve seen it in my neck of the woods here in CA is $7/gallon. Color me jealous. I just can’t do it with 3 kids. But I cringe every time my son asks me for more milk. I hate giving him the store bought stuff. 🙁 $2 is even better than the mainstream market price. I’m totally amazed. Again, wow.
Lindy Kazlauskas says
I was reading how to make your home made yogurt. Did not understand the recipe when it said to use 2 tablespoons of yogurt when making yogurt. So you have to buy yogurt to put it in the recipe to make yogurt? Doesn’t make since to me.
Lindy, yogurt needs ‘starter’ — something from a previous batch to start the next one. (kind of like friendship bread–that bread that you make with leftover dough from the last batch?) So, yes, you have to buy a little yogurt in order to get started making your own. Then you just save a few Tablespoons of your last batch to start your next one.
I have a question about Raw Milk. Fascinated by your information and very interested in switching my daugther who is 16 months onto raw milk. I have been a very big fan of goats milk and have access to a farm for raw goats milk. Can you guide me on your thoughts of this… good for a baby that young? what should i know about the milk and the farm? Is she ok to drink raw milk? etc… any kind of information would be helpful! She is a very picky eater at the moment and so thinking, switching her to raw milk may add in those nutrients that she is not getting at the moment.
Personally, I think giving young children raw milk from pasture raised animals (cow or goat) is an excellent way to make sure they’re getting enough nutrition! From what I’ve researched, 16 months seems plenty old enough to introduce good quality milk. I’d certainly start with a small bit at a time to see how her body responds!
Robyn DiCarlo says
I just read you only pay $2 a gallon for raw milk. You are so lucky. I pay $5.25 for half a gallon.
Yikes, Robyn, I know! It’s so expensive in some areas. This post was written when were living in NY, now we are in Alabama and I can’t even find raw milk! So, we do our best by purchasing un-homgenized from a local dairy.
Robyn DiCarlo says
Whole foods started selling this Organic Valley 100% grass fed organic whole milk with the cream on top. It isn’t homogenized but it is pasteurized. So I also get this when I can’t get to the farm for raw. But that is $5 for a half gallon also. Would there still be any health benefits from this milk?
Oh my goodness, that’s SO inexpensive! Pasteurized milk at the grocery store is much more than that here in CT, usually right around $4 per gallon. (I realize this is an older post, so your cost may have gone up as well.) I am a hardcore raw milk fan but I only budget for one gallon a week because the cheapest I can find it is $9 per gallon! Right now it’s just me and my significant other at home, but when the time comes for children I will definitely be giving them raw milk as well. I will have to make room in the budget!
Rebecca, the benefit of living in a sate where raw milk is technically illegal to sell is that IF you can find it, it’s cheap! I’m still getting my milk for $2-$3 a gallon. 😉
I would love to be able to find raw milk to drink, but here in Alberta, Canada, it is illegal to buy or sell it…which makes finding it VERY difficult!
When I was pregnant with my daughter, drinking milk made my 24/7 nausea MUCH worse. However, when we visited some friends in BC and drank their raw milk, I discovered that raw milk did NOT make me sick at all. Interesting!
Ah, I'm so jealous of your access to raw milk! We have to order it and the cheapest cost I've found (which is standard, coming from any farm) is $8 a gallon. As a newly-transitioned stay-at-home mom, we can't justify that in the budget. But, I'm convinced of its benefits and hope, someday, it'll work out for us to drink raw milk…
Penn and Janet says
Thanks! I never thought about making pancakes. Also good to know that my homemade yogurt can last so long. Not that it stands a chance with my kids as they eat half gallon a week.
You have inspired me to pull out and dust off my copy of Nurishing Traditions and start reading it in attempt to better my family's diet even more than it is.
I usually use my milk up before it sours – we go through it so fast! But when I do have some that is not quite 'drinking' flavor any more, I love to make buttermilk pancakes with it – sour milk is the prefect substitute for buttermilk!
I don't think you could make yogurt with it…The nice thing about making some of your fresh milk into yogurt is that the yogurt then lasts for a lot longer than the milk would – I usually make a gallon every 3-4 weeks. This is a wise use for that precious milk!
Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoyed my post.
Penn and Janet says
Thanks for this info on milk. After years of looking for a farm, I recently found one that sells raw milk (though it's $2.25 for HALF a gallon – I'm in VT and the farm is in NH).
I'm wondering though if from your experience how long the milk is good for. After after it starts to sour, what I can do with it? I've already been making my own yogurt and was thinking maybe I could use sour milk for that?
Do you have any thoughts?
Thanks. Somehow I stumbled across your blog and have really enjoyed it. I'm a mom of 2 young children (4.5 and 3), I do a lot of sewing and crafts along with schooling my children, so I can relate a lot with what you share.
I love milk of any kind, we buy 3-4 gals per week just to drink too
I love all the information you've shared and I'm definitely intrigued. That said, I'm not at a season of life where it would be anything more than additional expense for me just because I know I'd never take the time to make anything more from it besides using it for just milk.. and our milk is only $1.45gal so I'd have to be truly convicted to go raw and ready to utilize it to it's fullest I think.
Natalie – interesting you should mention it – Jeremy and I were just talking about it the other day – how we used to get congested when we drank the store bought milk, but we haven't experienced it at all with the raw milk – and we are drinking way more milk than we ever did before.
I agree – it is like wheat – ya gotta do it right, or it can have be hard to digest.
I'm curious now how raw milk differs in terms of allergens. I cook with dairy a good bit (plenty of cheese, cream, and kefir), but I've stopped drinking it because it tends to create chest congestion in me. My husband is flat out allergic to drinking milk. I use almond milk when I'm craving my chocolate milk. Anyway, I definitely know that raw milk is better for you, but I suppose I've put it in much the same category as wheat -potentially good for you depending on preparation and not something you want to overdo.
Rachelle – thanks for jumping in and giving us an informed perspective! It's definitely a good idea to scope out your supplier and make sure they are sanitary. My current dairy is a certified supplier to our local top brand dairy label, and the milk room is always cold and clean when I go in there.
Emily, I'm so glad the Real Milk link helped you find a milk supply! That news made my day.
Persuaded, I sympathize with your difficulty – it can be hard to find a friendly dairy in our state. But it's not impossible! It was my hope with this post that I might encourage a few to persevere in finding a supplier, 'cause it is so worth it.
Farmers in NY are not technically allowed to sell milk straight from the farm – thus the Amish diary's 'donation' policy. It is the same where I get my milk. I would suggest trying to make contact through your friend, and taking a trip out to the farm. If you like what you see, ask them when the best time would be for you to pick up milk. Milk 'prices' in our area are anywhere from $2-3 per gallon, and they are usually glad to get the little extra 'spending money'. Don't give up!
As someone who is VERY close to the dairy industry, I'm always happy to hear of people touting milk's benefits as it often gets a bad rap.
On the other hand, I must caution your readers on just going to “any old dairy” that will sell you milk out of the tank. Not all dairies are the same, and not all have great cleanliness records unfortunately. There are farms I work with that I would happily go up to a cow and drink staight from the udder:), but others frankly, really need the pasteurization process! Especially farms where there is little refridgeration (Grade B milk – often produced by Amish farms).
Ack! I'm so embarrassed…I write “you're” instead of “your” in that second to last paragraph. Please overlook that little error…. 🙂
Thank you so much for this post! Our locally owned grocery store used to sell raw milk from a local source, but that source stopped operating so I haven't been able to find raw milk in a while. The site you posted helped me find a local dairy farm within an easy driving distance. We live in a large city so this is great news!
One other benefit of the raw milk I have to emphasize….it is so delicious! If you've been drinking store-bought milk you're whole life–as I had before trying raw milk–you'll realize you've never really tasted real milk before. It's a huge difference.
Thanks again for the post and I look forward to seeing more recipes!
OK, I am experiencing very deep and severe envy right now. You'll have to give me a moment to compose myself…..
ok…. i think i'm ok now… I would So like to switch to raw milk, but it seems so hard to find anyone who is willing/able to sell it! There is one Amish family in a nearby town who does so, but they ask for “donations,” and one is never quite sure how much they expect apparently. (I have never dealt with them, but have friends who have.) Oh the bliss to be able to just scurry on over and fill up a few jugs! One more reason why I wish we lived closer… I'm still bemoaning the loss of that kombucha mushroom;)
Mrs. Guthrie says
Awesome! Love how you explain the benefits of RAW milk and explain why pasteurized is not so good.
Have been looking for a yogurt recipe and tutorial. I've wanted to start making it – the kids and I LOVE yogurt – but I hadn't found one (or remembered to ask my sister-in-law for hers) yet. THANKS! 🙂 Definitely interested in your mozzarella recipe when you perfect it. 🙂