January 17, 2009

My Milk is Illegal?! Is Yours? Finding Local, Raw Milk Sources. [Plus Easy Panir/Farm Cheese Recipe]

by Sarah Janelle Miller

Last week I struck gold. Local, white, liquid gold that is. After visiting RealMilk.com, I found a farm near my home that offers fresh, local, raw milk goodness.

Pamona Farm is neat and green and is the home to many lovely animal friends- sheep, goats, ducks, turkeys, chickens and two Jersey cows, Elsie and Gertrude. Gertrude is the newest addition (gifted to the farm by an elderly farmer who was thinning his herd.)

The lovely pair of Jersey’s ambled up to me, quickly noshed the fresh carrots I’d brought, and then proceeded to lick my hands and arms profusely in thanks. They live out their lives eating fresh, green shoots (organically fertilized by the ducks and chickens) as well as carrots, some hay and often a bit of grain depending on the season. There are no plans to increase the herd, or their milk supply (Gertie was not a planned addition.) There is also no desire to profit from the animals. With only Irena and Bob at the farm, “the girls” often give more milk than they can drink, so it is sold locally to those who will enjoy it.

The milk at Pamona is untreated (no growth hormones like Monsanto’s demon, rBGH) and the milk is decidedly raw.  The “girls” are loved as friends, not used for profiteering and are free to graze day in and out.

Clearly this is an ideal situation.

Raw milk is not pasteurized (or ultra-pasteurized) nor is it homogenized. This is the best milk for health and vitality and promotes the good qualities milk is known for. Raw milk has more vitamins and minerals, as well as “life force.” Pasteurized milk is considered “poison for the body” by many and hard to digest- perpetuating such issues as phlegm, allergies and dairy intolerance- even cancer.

[Side note: According to my beloved Vaidya Rama Kant Mishra, the Charak Samhita suggests drinking milk from black cows who live near forests if you have low levels of vitamin D. Black cows would naturally be soaking up more sun rays and will likely offer more of this essential vitamin in their milk.]

The health benefits of raw milk are obvious. Unfortunately, half of the states in our country consider it to be hazardous and only fit for animal consumption. Currently, Colorado is still one of those states. Unless you are part of a cowshare program, legally, no raw milk products can be sold. If you go to a farm to pick up your white gold, you can avoid some of these technicalities.

Legalities and obvious factory farming practices aside (organic included), the milk you buy at the store is likely not local. RawMilk.com is an excellent resource for locating an ideal milk source as well as the possibility of attaining some new cow friends.

Once you get your milk home, you’ll want to experiment with making fresh yogurt and butter or ghee (if you get enough cream.) Panir, or farm cheese, is by far my favorite milk-derived edible. Panir can be crumbled ontop of any dish and is an excellent source of protein.

Simple Panir

4 cups of raw milk

Juice of 1 lime or lemon (or 1/2 cup yogurt)

A strainer

A bit o’ cheese cloth or light towel

Bring your milk to a soft boil in a stainless steel pan. Quickly remove from heat and allow the milk to rest for a few minutes. Starting with half of your lime or lemon juice, pour it into the milk and give it a swift stir with a clean spoon. Wait a few minutes and if you don’t see the milk solids separating, add more juice, stir and wait for the curds to separate. When the whey is noticeably present (clear liquid), and the cheese curds have taken shape, place your cheese cloth, or towel, in your strainer and pour curds and whey into the towel. Let all the whey run through and then twist the cheese cloth and squeeze remaining liquid out. What’s left is pure milk curd, or Panir!

Bon Appetit!

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