A supply problem

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non-homogenised milk… complete with cream

The best laid plans are often scuppered by circumstances beyond our control… and so it has been this year with my cheese-making.

I love making cheese and I was happily enjoying doing it using milk from a farm just down the road until the summer. And then it all came to an end. The milk I was using was linked to a food-poisoning scare at the local farmers’ market and sales ceased. Now, we and many other local people had been drinking and using this milk for over a year without incident, including during the time the problem occurred. I haven’t been able to find out whether there was any conclusive link between the milk and the food poisoning, but the upshot is that the farm has stopped selling raw milk and have not yet decided whether they will ever start again. Whilst this should have been nothing more than a set-back for me, it’s actually turned out to have completely scuppered my home cheese-making.

The real problem is that, to make cheese, you need non-homogenised milk. It doesn’t matter whether it’s pasteurised or not, but it mustn’t be homogenised… which almost all commercially available milk is. I hunted the internet, but I’m not having much joy. You can buy it from a posh supermarket that we don’t live anywhere near, but it really isn’t commonly available. I thought that I had found another local farm to buy it from, but further investigation revealed that their milk too was homogenised.

I can only assume that homogenisation is so common because it allows milk sellers to control exactly how much butterfat there is in the milk. Sadly, it means our milk is one further step removed from being ‘natural’ and so I can’t make cheese. The other depressing upshot is that our milk for general use is now arriving in plastic packaging – something I had completely eliminated by collecting our milk in my churn direct from the tank on the farm.

So, my quest continues and in the mean time, I’ll have to buy my cheese ready-made, and eat the stock I’ve already got maturing.

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fortunately, this monster is now in the fridge maturing

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17 Comments

  1. Are you against using calcium chloride to ‘reverse’ the homogenisation? Using 1ml of calcium chloride solution per 3L milk will restore the calcium balance and aid firmer curd formation with most milks except those homogenised at very high pressures, but the curd is more brittle and you’d probably need to use a bit more rennet. It would work best for hard cheese batches, I think. Strangely, here we can now buy the equivalent of non-homogenised gold top milk in glass bottles once again – for a small fortune, of course, but the movement may have begun…

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  2. That is really disappointing! I do hope something else turns up. I suppose getting your own cow is out of the question?

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  3. I don’t know where you are but there is a farm on Dunster marsh (West Somerset) that sells raw milk.

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  4. Oh no, what a shame. I hope you find a source soon.

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  5. I’m sorry to hear this Jan – this interfering with our food freedoms is really annoying! I buy organic non-homogenised milk but it is pasteurised, which I’d also rather not have. Raw milk is available if I wish to drive 25 miles each way to get – which I can’t be bothered doing at all. I hope you find an alternative supplier.

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  6. Oh dear. And homogenization is bad because all those fat particles are different sizes before that. I’m sorry you can’t find good raw milk. Here, unless you have your own cow, it’s pretty hard to get unless you claim to be feeding animals with it (wink, nod). I remember spooning cream out of milk for coffee and fresh fruit when I was growing up. Yum. I hope you find a local source soon.

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  7. And just when your cheese making was going to the next level after your workshop. ☹️ However, you are persistent and tenacious and determined, so if the milk is out there, you will find!

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  8. Edam it all, am sorry to hear this – but you will find a solution eventually. Sounds like you’re stuck between a roque(fort) and a hard place. At least you KNOW how to make cheese now 🙂

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  9. You need a pregnant dairy cow!

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  10. We make cheese by using homogenised milk and adding cream, to it, to up the fat content. Doesn’t work as well as non homogenised milk, but it does work!

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    • I have done this sometimes, but I’d really like to find a local source straight from the farm to avoid any unnecessary processing and packaging.

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      • I’m totally with you! It’s got me thinking about how I might source my milk packaging free.

        I learned to milk a cow on the farm of a friend in Wiltshire but to find a local person willing to let me take milk from their cow might prove to be more difficult!

        Anyway, I hope you find a solution to your conundrum.

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