Raw Milk Butter Making at Zaytuna Farm

Milking a cow in central Europe
Photo © Craig Mackintosh
(Other photos below: Salah Hammad)

Raw milk! Yes raw milk! For me, it was a first time! I grew up loving milk and milk products, but also grew up afraid of raw milk. We’ve always been taught that milk needs to be boiled. In University during my Food Technology courses we called it pasteurized and Ultra Heat Treated (UHT) milk.

Huge amounts of milk were produced by grain by-product fed cows. Due to the commercialization of milk production there was a need to control the unsanitary conditions that were prevailing which resulted in milk that is unfit for consumption. One easy option was to pasteurize all the milk before it left the dairy, ensuring that all pathogens were eradicated and milk was safe for human consumption.

On the other hand, grass-fed, healthy cows will produce milk which can be considered complete balanced food which we can live on exclusively if required, and some of the differences compared to heat treated milk as described by Kay Baxter and Bob Corker in their book (Change of Heart, the ecology of nourishing food) is that:

  1. Significant amounts of vitamins are lost in pasteurization.
  2. Many minerals, and some proteins become less bio-available.
  3. Enzymes are destroyed in pasteurization, which means that instead of the milk digesting itself inside our stomach, we are putting strain on our digestive system resulting in milk allergies.
  4. Raw milk tastes better!

As long as you know where the cows are grazing, and know where they’re being milked (and probably even giving a hand with that), then there’s no reason to worry, and I do encourage every person to go out there, find a milk source for yourself, get engaged with the process, give a hand and you will appreciate the milk and dairy products you are having much more.

Raw milk is super alive, as mentioned above. The enzymes are alive, the beneficial micro-organisms are happy and kicking, and the fat and water soluble vitamins are waiting to be absorbed with the minerals. This means that all products made from this raw milk will be alive as well.

PRI’s student and intern head count drops, obviously, between courses, so the demand for fresh milk for breakfast, coffee and tea decreases at these times, but with the two cows still milking as usual we had a lot of milk in the fridge, some stored for a few days already, so the fat has already separated and formed a good layer of cream which we could spoon out and collect.

Milk with a layer of Cream

Two jars of this cream was collected, around 4-5 litres, and was whipped in a food processor until the buttermilk separated from the butter. Some suggest to keep the cream out of the fridge for 12 hours before we want to make it into butter to allow a natural fermentation process to start which will give a sour flavor for the butter.

To separate the butter from the remaining whey, either apply a bit of pressure on top of the butter or hold it under a cold tap while squeezing until the whey stops coming out, adding salt at this point and mixing it well and putting it in the fridge.

Buttermilk is what we have left. It could be used to make feta cheese, or could be added while making bread, or left to ferment and make Shaneena from!

It was an enjoyable day in the kitchen today. I learned a lot and experienced raw dairy science first hand!

One last word, question everything you eat, and explore what worked for generations before ours.