Tag Archives: dairy

Archaeologists Find Ancient Evidence Of Cheese-Making : The Salt : NPR

Archaeologists Find Ancient Evidence Of Cheese-Making : The Salt : NPR.

 As any cheese maker will tell you, it’s not that hard to make cheese. You just take some fresh milk, warm it up a bit, and add something acidic to curdle it. Then, once it has cooled, you drain off the whey— the liquid part — and you’re left with cheese.

But when did we figure out how to do this? According to a new paper in the journal Nature, at least 7,000 years ago. Since then, the process hasn’t changed much.

Take that, Kraft Singles!

Raw Milk

There’s an article on Salon about Raw Milk (warning: Nag ad click-thru needed) which should not be missed for those interested in said topic. There’s so much to talk about within the piece, that it would be impossible to cover it all in one post here.

Instead, I’m going to quote the item that caught my attention:

Meanwhile, the FDA has just announced that it’s safe to eat meat and drink milk from cloned animals. In such an Orwellian universe, where raw milk from cows that have two biological parents is considered dangerous, while pasteurized milk from cloned cows is safe.

I flip flop a fair amount on raw milk — I don’t believe it’s a drink that should be taken for granted. I have little doubt that the tasteless pasteurized milk is a safer product, especially if industrial dairies ever decided to get into the raw milk business.

Within the article, there’s a raw milk comparison to Sushi which I think is apt. A dairy farmer that has skills equivalent to those a Sushi chef, or heck, even a decent fish monger, would have enough experience to limit risk in the drinking of raw milk. Given proper attention to sanitary conditions, and respect for the cows and their environment and upbringing, I think a safe product could be brought to market. The amount of work and resources needed to create such a product would make it an expensive one, especially when taking the sort shelf life of the milk into account.

But in the real world, I don’t think the USDA or FDA would ever allow it. The primary influence upon food standards is what works best for industrial farms and dairies. And what works best for industrial farms is often counter-intuitive for the local small farms.

At any rate, there’s a fair amount of interesting bits in the piece. As a side note, this quote…

“Milk is big business. When you think milk, think Exxon.”

…is spot on. Or more to the point – Dean’s Dairy is to milk as Exxon is to Oil. In my opinion, they are THAT ruthless in their pursuit of profits.

Technorati Tags: Milk, Raw Milk


FDA looks to approve cloned meat and milk

From the newswire:

The government said Tuesday it is moving closer to approving meat and milk from cloned animals, drawing protests from consumer groups.

The Bush administration is currently reviewing Food and Drug Administration plans to regulate cloned animals and food derived from them, the agency said in a statement. A draft of the plans should be released by the end of the year, FDA said.

I have no idea on whether this is a good idea or not. As always, the trick is to ensure the safety of any product…and that means to the environment as well as to the consumer who eats the stuff. The problem is that testing is often one of the primary aspects of product development that is cut in order to save money (all you have to do is look at Monsanto for proof of that).

Technorati Tags: Food Science, Cloning


Butter Tips and Hints

Here’s a bit about butter. Use or disuse as desired.

  • Refrigerate salted butter for up to 1 month.
  • Refrigerate unsalted butter for up to 2 weeks.
  • If you refrigerate your butter, avoid the butter compartment as it’s too warm. Store in the back of the refrigerator if possible.
  • As butter can absorb flavors from nearby products, it should be wrapped airtight.
  • Salted and unsalted butter can be frozen in freezer-proof wrapping for up to 6 months.
  • Unsalted butter allows for better control of the final flavor of a dish.
  • Unsalted butter is better for greasing pans than salted, as salted butter can make baked goods stick to pans.
  • To cleanly cut cold butter, wrap your knife in cling wrap, or heat a butter knife with hot water and dry off the water.
  • To measure butter trhat does not have a wrapper, partially fill a measuring cup with water, then add butter until it reaches the amount you need. For example, fill a cup with 1/2 cup with water. If you need 1/2 cup of butter, add butter to the water until the water line reaches 1 cup.
  • Soften butter by placing it in a microwave oven for 30 seconds at half power.
  • Another way to soften butter is by slicing or grating butter and letting stand for about 10 minutes.
  • Butter has a narrow melting range, 82.4°F to 96.8°F, so it will melt quickly even at low temperatures. To avoid burning, melt butter on low temperature settings.
  • To prevent scorching when using butter as an oil, replace 1/4 of the butter with olive oil.
  • Scorched and/or burnt butter is unrecoverable. If looking to cook with butter at high heat, it’s best to use clarified butter.
  • Do not use whipped butter for anything other than spread, or oiling pans. Whipped butter is incorporated with air and/or nitrogen which can adversely affect the taste of baked recipes.
  • To cut butter into flour without a pstry cutter or food processor, grate frozen butter into the flour, periodically the flour together to prevent sticking.
  • To make clarified butter,take need about 1 1/4 lbs. of unsalted butter. Melt butter over moderate heat but do not allow to boil, stirring often, but gently. The butter will separate into three distinct layers – foam on top, clarified butter in the middle and milk solids on the bottom. As the butter continues to warm, skim the froth from the surface and toss. When the froth is gone, pour off clear, melted clarified butter into another container, but leave the solids on the butter on the bottom.

As always, feel free to add your own tips and hints in the comments.


How the French ruined Cooking : Margarine

At the 1866 Paris World Exhibition, Emperor Louis Napoleon III of France offered to sponsor research to develop a cheap replacement for butter. He had his reasons. Some will say that it was his attempt to help the lower classes get their recommended allotment of fat into their diet, and his concern for the poor (most notably documented in his book Extinction du paupérisme’). But don’t discount the high costs of butter that accrued when trying to feed his army. Like many emperors, he was keen on proving France’s military might, but armies don’t run on willpower. Any money saved in butter was a money that could be spend on guns.

The French food chemist Hippolyte Mège-MouriésMege-Mouiries responded to the challenge and invented oleomargarine. He did so by combining the extracted liquid of beef suet with milk. The result? A spreadable (and notably gray) fat.

As quickly as the spread took off world-wide, it still managed to upset both governments and established food industries. Laws were created to prevent margarine makers from adding yellow food coloring. The Dairy Industry helped shape a tax upon the spread that kept its price artificially high. Rumors of despicable production practices and reports of its harm to people’s health made the rounds. In short, it was treated in the same way that many other industrial food products are treated today. I’ll leave it up to you on whether that’s a good thing or not.

When the Depression occurred, butter prices rose and stayed high throughout World War II. It was only then that the margarine tax, and other related regulations were recinded (’twas about that time that margarine started becoming yellow).

At some point, beef fat was replaced by vegetable oil, most likely oil from soybeans. The process of converting soy oil to margarine was/is so profitable that it’s difficult to find a margarine not made with soy.Which means the term “soy margarine” is, at best, a redundancy, and at worst, playing off of consumer’s ignorance.

It’s the social response to margarine’s introduction which I find so interesting. If I were to pick one food that brought us into the industrial age of food, I would pick margarine, both for its production as well as the response to it.

*The title of this post should not be taken too seriously. I simply find it ironic that it was the proud French, with their rich culinary tradition (of which there is ample evidence) who brought forth this product that has been so reviled by some.

tags technorati : Food History Margarine


Why Does Industrial Dairy dislike Raw Milk?

What is it about raw milk that makes Big Dairy’s stomach turn?

What is it about? Money – Money disguised as health concerns.

First off, let’s be clear – there are health issues surrounding unpasteurized milk. The question I have us thus – if unpasteurized milk is treated with proper diligence (proper shelf life is kept, temperature kept below 40 fegrees F), is Raw milk any more dangerouse than eggs or shellfish? No one can seem to answer that.

But back to the money – Here’s why Raw milk is not considered a viable product for the industrial dairy industry.

  • The smaller the shelf life of any product, the more tenuous the profit margin of that product.
  • To ensure the safety of the milk, it would cost money to implement both processes and equipment.
  • It would cost money to add liability insurance to cover any health episode that might occur.

I could list several other reasons, but I think the point is made.

The next question I have is this – is it in industrial dairy’s interest to keep raw milk from becoming a viable alternative? Not at the moment. The raw milk movement is unorganized and fights many laws and perceptions that are both valid and invalid.

Via Megnut

Technorati Tags: milk, raw+milk, dairy


Types of Butter

There are several different ways to produce butter. Yesterday, I could have named two. Today, after reading up on the subject, I can name a few more. My appreciation of Harold McGee grows by the day.

These are types of butter production, rather than a complete list of butter products. That’s why I haven’t listed Brown butter, or clarified butter. I’ll get to these types of butter at a later time.

  • Raw Cream Butter – Alas, it is unlikely that you will ever have this kind of butter, especially here in the United States. The reason? It’s made from unpasteurized milk. Well, that and it has a shelf life of only ten days. This type of butter is said to taste more of cream and less of the salty fat that we’re used to here in the States.
  • Sweet Cream Butter – Often called “unsalted butter” here in the States, it’s the kind I buy most often (There was has been as much as three pounds in my refrigerator at one time). Good butter is typically white with a slight yellow palor, as well has having a higher fat content. Without the salt added, there’s a purer taste of butter.
  • Salted Sweet Cream Butter – This is also typically what is found in the grocer’s dairy section. This is Sweet Cream butter made from pasteurized cream with salt added. The salt was initially added because it helped fight off bacteria when folks would leave the butter out. But now that we typically keep our butter cold (at least here in America), it’s there because we believe it should be there. When I realized that salted butter is to be avoided when baking at home, and that salted butter scorches in the frying pan more readily than unsalted butter, I fuond myself purchasing less and less of the stuff.
  • Cultured Cream Butter – This is butter that has had a fermenting agent added, most likely lactic acid. The fermentation adds a more discernable (some would say ‘tangy’) butter flavor. This is very much a European style of butter that is now gaining popularity over here.
  • European-Style Butter – A butter that has a lower moisture percentage and higher butterfat content than the typical sweet-cream butter (which is about 20% water, if I recall correctly). Due to the lower moisture content, it makes this the butter of choice for pastries and sauces. Plugra is the brand most often recognized as “European-Style”.
  • Whipped Butter – Butter made to be spread. It is aerated with nitrogen gas, giving the butter a more maleable and smoother texture. This type of butter should be avoided for almost all functions except for topping foods and spreading on toast and muffins.
  • Beurre Cuisinier, Beurre Pâtissier, Beurre Concentré – These are specialty butters with even less moisture and/or more butterfat. These are also typically unavailable for the common consumer, and are most often found in bakeries and patisseries.

Technorati Tags: Food, Butter