I went shopping at Whole Foods yesterday. I went to pick up a couple of things for a recipe I’m going to try and, of course, ended up finding other goodies. What I’m most excited about it the grass-fed butter I found that is produced in the USA, which means less transport time than Kerrygold butter and a fresher product. When exploring their website, I found that not only were they a grass-fed dairy, but they didn’t homogenize their products!! This is great news for you. So what does it mean to homogenize and why should you care? (This information comes from <a href=”http://www.kalonasupernatural.com/our-process/”>Kalona SuperNatural™</a>)
First of all, homogenization further processes the product, pulling it further away from what came directly from the cow – and we are interested in consuming products that are processed as little as possible, and consumed in the most natural state possible. Homogenization, which is not necessary for any food safety reason, destroys the sweet, creamy taste of fresh milk and alters its molecular structure.
Perhaps the best way to explain why we do not homogenize milk is to explain what <a href=”http://www.onlinebodylab.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/homogenize.gif”><img alt=”homogenize milk process” src=”http://www.onlinebodylab.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/homogenize-300×222.gif” width=”300″ height=”222″ /></a>homogenization is. Homogenization is a mechanical process that transforms the two, separate components of whole fresh milk– cream and low-fat milk–into one smooth beverage. To accomplish this, fresh milk is heated and pumped through tiny nozzles at high pressure. The pressure tears the fat globules of the cream into tiny particles, which then disperse evenly throughout the low-fat milk. These tiny fat particles are extremely susceptible to rancidity, but pasteurization prevents homogenized milk from spoiling.
When homogenized milk was introduced in the early 20<sup>th</sup> century, consumers did not buy it because it was missing the chief sign of high quality milk: a thick layer of cream on top. One historian notes that it was not until after World War II, when opaque milk cartons were introduced to the market (and home delivery of glass bottles dwindled) that homogenized milk became the dominant form of milk consumed in the U.S.
Thus, neither consumer demand nor health concerns prompted the shift to homogenized milk. Instead, economic reasons played the key role. Prior to homogenization, the cream content in whole milk was random, and varied from 3% to 8% or more. But homogenization introduced a definition of whole milk that established the minimum cream content (which soon became the standard cream content) at 3.25%. This allowed milk processors to use the “extra” cream in other products, such as butter.
Because most of us have been raised on homogenized milk, we may not know what to expect when we buy our first bottle of non-homogenized milk. After it sits for 12-24 hours, fresh non-homogenized milk separates into a layer of light, high-fat cream (sometimes called the “cream top”) and a much larger, more dense layer of low-fat milk. Over time, the cream becomes thicker, and after a few days it may nearly solidify into a cream “plug.” This is a natural occurrence in non-homogenized milk. When you shake the bottle the plug will loosen and break up into the milk, although many folks like to spoon it out for their coffee or to eat it on their cereal as a special treat.
Non- homogenized milk also has a naturally sweeter flavor than homogenized milk because whole cream has a silky texture that is lost when the fat globules are broken apart. It also has a richer flavor, even the 2% and fat free, because our skimming process never removes 100% of the cream.
Professional and amateur chefs recommend non-homogenized dairy products as ingredients to make the best cheese, yogurt, ice cream, whipped cream, or other dairy-based foods at home or in elegant restaurants.