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Raw milk and a cheese-making course

Now that we have Bella our house cow, we have the option of drinking raw whole milk instead of pasturised, homoginised supermarket milk.  In Australia it is illegal to sell raw milk, but its not illegal to drink raw milk from your own house cow.

As explained here, there are good reasons not to drink raw milk from commercial dairies.  These dairies are producing milk that is intended to be pasturised, there is usually lots of manure on the floor and lots of cows to milk, because the milk is going to be pasturised, so there's no need to take as much care as you would with your own house cow.  Some dairies are set up to produce raw milk, and these may take more care with the production of milk, so that its safe to drink in raw form, but in general I would be wary of commercial raw milk.
“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”– Thomas Jefferson

I believe that there are lots of good reasons to drink raw milk, as it contains enzymes and "good" microbes that help our digestion and immune system, but I really need to do some more reading on the subject.  I do have a lovely book called "The Healthy House Cow", by Marja Fitzgerald, which, in amongst the wonderfully wise cow advice and organic treatments and feeds, also talks about the benefits of raw milk.  But I think I need something more scientific to report to my readers, so I purchased some books on the subject and I'll report back soon!

For me its also a laziness thing, its so much easier to drink the milk raw than worry about pasteurising it!  I have tried to make raw milk yoghurt, and it hasn't worked.  That is so frustrating because now I have the tedious task of pasteurising the milk before making the yoghurt!  So far I have made cheese and butter from raw milk and its been fine.

My husband and I also went to a cheese-making course recently.  We chose to go to one which we knew would discuss raw milk, as some are very focused on the need for pasteurisation.  The course was run by Elisabeth Fekonia (see her website) and was in Brisbane, but she runs them all around QLD, check her calendar for one near you.  It was only for the day, so there wasn't much time, but she managed to show us the basics of cheddar, brie, yoghurt, kefir, butter and ghee.  She also explained the benefits of lactic fermentation and inspired me to FINALLY buy "Nourishing Traditions" as everyone keeps mentioning it (see my book list for more details).  The highlights for me were the opportunities to try kefir and buy some grains, as I had heard so much about it and would never have tried it otherwise.  I also got the chance to discuss raw milk yoghurt, which Elisabeth admitted she also had no luck with and preferred to just pasteurise the milk to ensure a good result.  This made me feel better about it!  She also explained that by adding the good bacteria in the yoghurt culture to pasteurised milk you're still making something very healthy, and raw milk isn't really necessary.  I did feel sorry for the other 20 or so people on the course who did not own a cow, as they would be looking at paying $5 a litre for raw "bath" milk, that's VERY expensive cheese!

So now I just need to find a balance between what is safe and healthy and what is tasty and easy to prepare!  Any thoughts, any good books on the subject, any experiences (good or bad) with raw milk???

GYou might also be interested in my series on getting started with homestead dairy


  1. Sigh, I wish we could have a cow! But with no backyard and living in the midst of a bustling city, I see that as maybe a future possibility. It is also illegal here in Canada to sell raw milk, so I have had zero experience with it. Thankfully growth hormones and antibiotics are illegal to use in Canadian dairy, so that is one less thing I need to worry about. I would LOVE to take a cheese making course, that would be so interesting! Hope you have a great day!


  2. Hey, you might find this interesting... on Polyface farms they move their chickens onto the paddocks where the cows have been three days later. By then all the maggots in the cow poo are fattening up, and the chickens scratch the poo up to get to the maggots, which they love. This spreads the poo around to fertilise the paddocks, feeds the chickens and helps prevent the spread of disease. Win/Win! I read about it in "The Omnivore's dilemma" by Michael Pollan - which I wrote a review of here: Since you've got steers and chickens in portable cages, I thought this could work for you too!

  3. BTW, it's so awesome that you've got your own cow now. All that lovely raw milk to experiment with. I still haven't got around to signing up for raw milk. So slack! I was waiting until after pregnancy because my hubby was nervous about me drinking it while preggers, but now there is no excuse.

  4. thanks for the comments Emma, actually when we let the chickens free-range they tend to scratch through the cow poo, so I suppose that's what they're looking for, I thought they were just picking out the grain, clever chickens! I think you're right to avoid raw milk when pregnant, its got some great things in it, but can be dangerous too if its contaminated, no excuses now though! Can you get it easily in NZ? (maybe you can pick up a load of poo with your milk :))

  5. YES you are lucky to have a milking Cow, Thanks for the heads up with Cream Cheese, I might just try that one real soon! Happy Milking! :)

  6. Hey Liz, there is an organic dairy farmer based about an hour out of Wellington who lets you buy herd shares so that can legally get milk from them. Every week they deliver milk to a few people around Wellington and all the people signed up for milk goes to collect it from them. I've got the form to fill out to buy my herd share, but just haven't got around to it yet.

  7. We never pasteurise, apart from destroying the beneficial enzymes it takes more time. As we don't milk our own cows but buy the raw milk from a local dairy farmer we just keep an eye on the Somatic Cell Count and Total Platlete Count which is posted in the dairy.


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