Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Clabbered Milk

"Hence I have said to you, 'You are to possess their land, and I Myself will give it to you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey' I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples." ~Leviticus 20:24

My Lord promised to give His people a land flowing with milk and honey. Perhaps a symbolism only, but I am pretty sure what the people envisioned is what we now call unpasteurized or raw milk. Sad it is that today we must make use a word like "raw" to describe milk in its natural form, because before it is sold in stores, milk is cooked--well, that is what pasteurizing really means.

I am an advocate for raw milk with a strong preference for Nubian goat milk. Nubians are known for milk with high butterfat. My aunt in Ohio has had a few Nubian goats for milking, which is how it all started with me. Rich, creamy, and with a taste of liquid butter, I was hooked the moment the first drop touched my tongue. Unfortunately, Ohio is one of the states where it is completely illegal to sell raw milk. It is a wonder to me how people survived through the centuries before pasteurization!--a subject for another time, perhaps.

When I lived in Florida I was delighted to find a little place grandfathered in urban St. Petersburg called Joys Half Acre with about thirty milking goats mostly Nubians. The goats were their source of income due to her husband's disability. Even then, Florida's laws allowed the selling of raw milk for animal consumption only.

When I moved to Georgia, the laws were similar to Florida, but the facility has to be licensed as well. Finding a Nubian goat farm close by was far more difficult. I found one place not too far away, but she was not licensed because she sold so little; that is common with small farms so that did not discourage me. What did deter me from being a patron is she did not let me see her milking facility or her goats. Without seeing for myself how things were handled and the health of the goats, I passed.

For years we just did without milk, using organic yogurt mostly as a substitute. About four years ago we went to a farm with a corn maze on their homeschool day and I found they were selling raw cow milk for "pets," of course. From then on we have been getting several gallons of raw cow's milk per trip, which I freeze until needed.

I could go on and on and on about why I will not drink pasteurized milk at all. I don't have an allergy to it, per se, but then I believe that everyone does have slight allergic reactions to it simply because all the natural cultures in milk that help us to digest it are killed off in the pasteurizing process. I have even personally known many lactose intolerant people found they could drink raw milk without any reaction. Besides that, there are many ways that raw milk clears up certain health problems and the lovely skin of milkmaids was legendary throughout history. (You should see my aunt's skin!)

As to harmful bacteria, that is a concern, but it is quite rare. In all the years I have been drinking raw milk, I have not yet had a problem with it, but ironically the largest outbreak was in pasteurized milk a few years ago, affecting thousands of people in my state. It was only a problem at one particular farm, but since the milk of many farms are combined it took some time to track down the source. At least when buying directly from the farm, there is less concern about tracking down the source.

Because of the concerns about people drinking raw milk, in some states they have required not only labeling against human consumption, but agricultural agencies have made new rules so that a gray dye must be added to the milk. Ridiculous, but it would certainly do the trick in making milk appear unappetizing. We fought this in Georgia and it did not go through the last time, but a neighboring state was not as fortunate.

Raw milk is a bit more expensive and there is only three of us, more often two most weeks, yet not one drop of our raw milk is ever thrown away. It is not because we drink so much of it, even though we do give some to our pets, but rather it is due to the fact that raw milk does not spoil like pasteurized milk does. No, raw milk will clabber, a word from the Irish language, meaning “to thicken.” Other terms for it would be sour or ferment or lopper. Milk cultures turn it into a tangy, rich, and thick substance. It can be a great substitute for yogurt, although not quite as thick and smooth as Americans are used to buying in stores. Off the top, one can collect the clotted cream, a favorite in tea and on scones.

The variety of cultures in milk have certain temperatures that promote them and there are subtle variations of what the milk becomes or is called at each point in different countries. For instance, to make yogurt, the milk should stay at an even temperature between 100 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. I have not done this. I simply let it clabber at room temperature for about 18 or so hours and add to granola for breakfast.

I have placed some clabbered milk in cheese cloth to hang, separating the whey and make it thicker for a cream cheese substitute or something closer to Greek yogurt which is very thick. I am no expert, so I am not really sure what one would call my experiments with raw milk, but as I said before, it is all edible in any form, even the whey, so there are no rules about how I must use it. Clabbered milk keeps for a very long time also.

Here are some of websites for more information:
Raw Milk Facts
Real Milk

Well, its time for bed and a short glass of real milk. Nighty-night!

~ My Lord, You provided all we need in nature to sustain our physical bodies. Thank you for the wonders of raw milk. ~

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.