Raw Milk Excitement

Yesterday, I sold a Wensleydale with sage for half price, however the discount was for a great reason.  It was for 7 litres of raw milk, all the way from Sophie the Jersey Cow who lives in Cygnet, Tasmania!  How many people in the suburbs actually know the name of the cow that their milk comes from?  Not many I bet.

My good friend Kate from Vegetable Vagabond dropped by on her way to Adelaide, and we haggled the deal in advance.  The milk tastes absolutely delicious and definitely worth the discount that I gave her.  Just a note, I pasteurized the milk before I made the cheese, as it still keeps the cream and milk separate, and I have never sold any raw milk cheese to friends and family!

Just look at all that wonderful cream floating on the top.  Kate froze the milk before transportation, as it is no problem when defrosted.  I am making Romano out of all this milk, which I am filming for another cheese making tutorial that will be ready over the weekend some time.

Anyway, even if raw milk has to come from Tassie, then so be it.  It is difficult to come by at the best of times.  What a treat!

Here are my thoughts on the raw milk issue that I wrote on The Greening of Gavin back in February this year.

Raw Milk Madness

I noticed today that there was an article in some Australian newspapers kicking up a fuss about raw milk, or for the uninitiated, milk that has not been pasteurized.  Have a read of the article titled “‘Mooshine’ milk udderly bad for you.   It tells a tale of some poor bloke inBondi fined A$53,000 for selling raw milk to the public for drinking purposes, who actually knew exactly what they were buying.  No cover up, no scandal, just supply and demand for a healthy product.  Madness!
Well let me tell you a thing or two about raw milk.  When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I lived on a dairy farm run by my Dad and Mum.  It was a great dairy farm with lovely cows with Dad having a name for nearly every single one of the 150 head herd.  Dad paid very particular attention to the cleanliness of the milking equipment and even washed the cows udders before putting on the suction cups that sucked all of the milk out.Me, my siblings, parents, grandparents and most of the town of Loxton North drank raw milk with no ill effects, and I am still alive and kicking.  The cows were fed on grass, not grain or silage, and had a very healthy diet.  All things considered, no one ever got sick from drinking our milk that was sold from the diary door by the billy can full.

So what is wrong with raw milk if the entire process is treated with respect?  Probably nothing in my experience, however I don’t have a science degree in biology to be 100% authoritative on the subject so take my opinion with a grain of salt if that kind of attestation is required by you.

Raw milk is used in many countries throughout the world for cheese making including the large cheese producing countries of France, Italy, Greece, and Spain, and is considered safe to use in the USA if the cheese is matured for greater than 60 days.  However this is not so in Australia.  Talk about a nanny state or what!

I for one would use raw milk in cheese making at the drop of a had, only if I could get my hands on a fresh supply in my immediate area.  Let the people choose for themselves.  If they want to buy it, then let them.  It certainly cannot be any worse than alcohol or tobacco which are legally sold.

Health authorities should get a little perspective.  More people probably die from road accidents in a single hour in this country than get sick from drinking raw milk, yet they still let people drive.  Grow up governments, and let people choose!

After all, it is very difficult to taint fresh raw milk with melamine now isn’t it?  Just ask the Chinese.


  1. says

    On the Subject of Whey Ricotta …

    I notice many whey ricotta recipes call for a large amount of whey. We struggle to have that much, as we are only novice cheese makers, but love the smooth creaminess of the WR. Is it possible to freeze the whey prior to use (until we had enough)?

  2. says

    we live on the NSW South Coast and can get pasteurised, non-homogenised Jersey cow milk readily. It is sold commercially, and is much richer than the normal commercially available milk, which is primarily from Friesian cattle. The cheese we are making has a much richer colour, and tastes wonderful. No risk of falling foul of the authorities either. The milk comes from Tilba, and is sold as ABC milk…..

    • says

      Hi Alison. It is nice to find fresh milk isn't it!

      I too buy Jonesy's milk which is non-homogenised and can usually only a day old.

      It makes the best cheese.

      Gav x

  3. David says

    Thanks for your suggestions Gavin. I love experimenting, or rather I am determined to find a way to get it right.

    My whey wasn't particularly clear – in fact it was quite white – and I added 500ml of full cream milk. Maybe malic acid works better than citric or straight acetic. I'll have to get a small bottle of apple cider vinegar and see if it makes any difference. It may be that I stirred it too vigorously but I was afraid of it burning on the bottom. My pot was aluminium which may have had an effect? I'll try again anyway. The consistency of my final product was more like a smooth paste or cream cheese. In fact it was so dense in my straining cloth that even after 3 hours it had stopped dripping when there was still lots of liquid still in it. So, guess what, I gave it the spin dryer treatment which got the last of the excess moisture out nicely.

    Hi Gavin

    I had another go today at the ricotta and though slightly better I still didn't get nice firm curds as on your video. Anyway I ended up with a fraction over one pound of ricotta, some of which would have come from the 500ml of milk I added. You might be interested in the results. What I did was this:-

    Instead of heating the whey directly on the element, I used my double boiler so I didn't have to keep stirring it to prevent it burning on the bottom. After a while I went to see how the temperature was doing and to my surprise there were big clumps of curd moving in the convection currents in the whey even though the temperature was only 60 degrees. These clumps of curd were so fragile that if I just touched them with my thermometer they disintegrated like a cloud of dust. I assumed that the acidity had developed naturally since I had made the cheese three days before, but unfortunately I don't have a pH meter to check it. Anyway I continued heating the whey until it was at the required 92 and then added ⅓ cup (I had 7+ litres of whey) of apple cider vinegar (organic bought specially for the purpose), although I didn't really think it was necessary since it was already curdled. I stirred in the vinegar extremely gently as the curd was still so fragile and after a short time the whey was almost completely clear, from which I assumed everything of any value had curdled out. At that point I transferred it very carefully with a small jug to my extra fine nylon cloth but again it would not drain through. Even with my gentle stirring and careful transfer to the cloth, the curd had disintegrated into minute particles. After about 3 hours it was still very liquid so I gave it the spin dryer treatment and it even required two spin dryer cycles to get it reasonably dry.

    Nevertheless, with the salt added it tastes very nice, so I'm not complaining.

    Perhaps other readers of your blog would like to give their experiences with making Ricotta.

    Thanks for letting me know how you got on. At least you had a rewarding cheese at the end of it all.

    I just had a thought. All of the cheese making books I have warn against using aluminium pots as it reacts with the acid during the cheese making process. Not sure what happens, but I am sure that it probably would not help curd formation.

    Gavin – My double boiler container is stainless steel though the water-containing outer pot is aluminium. The first batch was done in the aluminium one because it it larger and sits better on the stove, but the second batch yesterday was in the stainless steel pot, so the aluminium question doesn't arise.

    I'll put this email discussion on your blog and see if anyone comes up with any answers.


  4. David says

    Hello Gavin

    I would appreciate your help.

    On Sunday I made 2 batches of cheese (8 litres milk each). One I added some of my last batch of excellent blue cheese as a starter at the salting stage, and the other just 'plain' cheese. Incidentally I used only ½ teaspoon of rennet (actually 2.5 gms) per 8 litres and it set up nicely. My calculations had indicated I should use 1.7 gms for the 8 litres but that didn't seem enough so I increased it to 2.5. I am hoping that the lesser amount of rennet will make a less dry/crumbly cheese. I'll tell you in 3 months time.

    Anyway what I need your help with is the ricotta. I decided to make ricotta from the whey and followed your video instructions to the letter. The problem I had was that it was very slow to curdle, and when it did the curds were minuscule and wouldn't stick together to make nice big lumps as in your video. I had the same problem when I tried it once before, but at that time I had boiled the whey by mistake!! So when I came to strain it I had to use the finest nylon I could find else everything would go right through. Your cheesecloth would have been empty. And I dare not squeeze the bag to hasten the straining as the soft curd will go right through. What makes the curds coalesce and what makes it firm? I still have 16 litres of whey left (I had frozen some previously) so I can do another batch.

    Hope to hear from you soon
    Hi David,

    I am just wondering how clear the whey was before you started? If it was really yellow and clear, it would not have made much ricotta. It may have been best to add a couple of litres of milk to get more curds. Also, I have noticed that if the curds are too soft, you can add more vinegar. Once I had to add half a cup to get it to separate.

    I used apple cider vinegar last time as I can source it locally, and found that this produced a fantastic curd when I used raw milk whey. The ricotta was smooth and creamy.

    I suggest you add some more whole milk next time and try 6 litres of whey to start off with.

    All the best,

    I'll have to break this down to two comments as it won't fit, so see part two.

  5. says

    @ Kate. I hope the cheese tasted as good as the setting!

    @ SCK. I buy my cultures from Green Living Australia. Look them up in your favourite search engine.

    Gav x

  6. says

    Gavin, I am not sure how to reach you otherwise, so am leaving a comment here… From where do you buy your mesophilic and thermophilic cultures? Also the lipase?

  7. says

    I am so lucky to have this milk as my everyday milk in Cygnet… for pet consumption only, you understand!!

    It was wonderful to visit and I will be breaking into the Wensleydale tonight with son Hugh, also a connoisseur of fine cheese, as we sit on Semaphore Beach and watch the sun set over a perfect Adelaide summer's day.

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