We have another amazing new local product: milk from Bennett Family Farm in Tillamook! The Bennett family just started distributing this milk in March 2014 but they are already gaining much attention from locavores and gourmands alike for the quality, richness and minimal processing of the non-homogenized “cream on top” full-fat (whole) milk.
No stranger to dairy farming, Levi Bennett is a third generation dairyman and starting this farm was the realization of a long-wished-for dream. Levi and his wife Courtney run the farm with the help of a farm hand and thirteen Holstein cows, that are more like pets than livestock, according to Levi.
To understand why minimal processing helps make Bennett Farm Milk so special it’s necessary to learn a little about how most commercial milk is produced ( including most commercial organic milk.)
Most commercial dairies put milk through a separation process where all milk fat is removed from the milk, and a lot of the nutrients with it. After a few more processes, the fat is then re-added to the milk later along with “supplemental” vitamins (since the process strips the milk of nutrition) to fortify it so nutritional levels can meet minimum FDA standards. Then on to the pasteurization process that brings the milk up to a temperature as high as 260° and pretty much cooks out all the good probiotics and amino acids along with any harmful bacteria. Another process, homogenization, is used to keep milk from separating with the cream on top. Homogenization uses one of a number of methods to exert 4000 lbs of pressure per square inch on the milk and force it through miniscule holes which break the all the fat bonds on a cellular level, which changes them into teeny (nano-sized) particles. When these fat particles partially reassemble their natural chemical structure is completely altered in ways that make the milk hard to digest. Many researchers now believe this is one reason so many people appear to have allergies to milk products.
Bennett Farm Milk only treats their milk using one process, pasteurization. And it’s a special kind of low-temperature pasteurization (heated to only 145° for 30 minutes) which is hot enough to kill any potential harmful bacteria but not hot enough to kill all the great stuff in milk. And by eliminating all those other processes the commercial dairies use the milk is left in the most natural state possible…the flavor too. Actually, it’s the closest thing to raw milk that is legally available in stores so many of the raw milk benefits are left in tact. You can read more about raw, whole milk here >>
In fact, we’re hearing folks at the store say this is the best milk they’ve ever tasted, bar none! Some even say they like it better than raw. Bennett Farm does not want to make any health claims but they have many formerly “lactose-intolerant” customers that enjoy their whole milk with no side effects.
But the only way to know whether their milk is as good as what people are saying is by trying it yourself. Comment below and post your reviews!
In-the-meantime, try the recipe below using Bennett Farm’s whole milk. Making farmer cheese is a fun and easy process.
- 1/2 gallon whole milk*
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- **Note: do not want to use ultra-pasteurized milk for cheese making. Ultra-pasteurized milk is not always labeled but you can tell because the expiration date is extremely long, usually 30-90 days. Regular pasteurized milk works fine, though.
- Bring milk to a slow boil. Keep the heat at medium or medium low, otherwise you risk burning the milk to the bottom of the pot. Stir frequently.
- When small, foamy bubbles begin to form on the surface of the milk, but it is not yet at a rolling boil, turn off the heat. If you have a thermometer, which is helpful, the temperature will read about 190 degrees.
- Add the vinegar and stir the milk. You will notice curds immediately beginning to form.
- Let the milk sit for 15 minutes. After this time, add any additional flavors (like fresh herbs) if desired.
- Place a colander over a large bowl.. Drape either cheesecloth or a thin dish towel over the colander. Pour the curds into the cheese cloth. The whey (liquid) will drain and be collected in the bowl below and the solids curds will be caught in the cheese cloth.
- Lift the cheese cloth up and wrap it around the curds, twisting and squeezing to expel moisture. After squeezing out the moisture, the curds for farmer’s cheese will be dry and crumbly.
- Shape the curds into cheese by sitting the curds (wrapped in the cheesecloth) on a plate with another plate on top. Put a stone or small brick on the top plate to weight it down and refrigerate for an hour.
- Remove cheese from cheese cloth and slice to serve.