What is ‘non-standardised’ milk?

‘Non-standardised’ basically means that no Cream has been skimmed off the top of the Milk. Or, to put it another way, all the natural goodness that the Cows produce has been left in.

Why would cream be removed from Milk? Well, Cream is valuable; it is always more expensive than Milk. This is because Cream makes up only a small percentage of Milk.

The ‘Standard’ percentage of Cream that must be present for Milk to legally be called ‘Whole Milk’ in the UK is 3.6%. Ayrshire Cows produce Milk that contains between 4.5% and 4.9% Cream. This varies with the season: more in Summer when the cows are in the Pasture and less in Winter when the Cows are in the Byre eating Silage. Removing this seasonal variation was actualy given as an argument for standardisation. In actuality though, it was purely for the convenience of the industry rather than the consumer. For one thing, labels detailing fat percentage need not be changed if the fat percentage remains constant. We think that removing this seasonality is a bad thing in principle, further disconnecting the consumer and producer.

By standardising Milk, Big Dairy get to sell you the same thing twice, even skimming off the top of blue-top ‘whole’ milk. Standardisation is also why red-top ‘skimmed’ milk exists in the first place – they get to remove all but 0.5% of the Cream! No-one asked for Milk to be less healthy, less tasty and more like chalky water, but under the myth of ‘fat is bad’ the concept was pushed on an unsuspecting public. All fats are not the same. It turns out that the healthiest type of Milk is Whole Milk. This is in part because their are some Vitamins that are non-water-soluble and can only be absorbed by the body when dissolved in fat. Vitamins A, C, E and K all fall under this heading.

Non-standardised Milk, like our Gold Standard Milk and our Whole Milk, contains all the Cream that our Cows produce, just as nature intended.

What does ‘Batch Pasteurised’ mean?

Pasteurisation is the process of heating Milk to destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present before bottling / packaging takes place. In Scotland, it is illegal to sell Milk to the general public that has not been pasteurised. The only way that a Farm can sell raw milk in Scotland is if they are selling it to a commercial operation that is in possession of the relevant HACCP certification that will pasteurise the Milk themselves as part of their production processes. Ice-cream makers, for example, pastuerise Milk as part of their production process, as do yoghurt-makers. Batch-pasteurised Milk means that the Milk has been heated at lower temperature (68°) for a longer time (5 mins) to retain the most Organic flavour and so as not to destroy any proteins. Batch pasteurisation is so-called because the Milk is processed in batches. At Mossgiel this means 900L at a time being heated by one of our two pasteurisers which work in tandem, shuttling heat back and forth between them throughout the day in a very heat efficient manner.

The conventional method of pasteurisation – ‘continuous-flow pasteurisation’ – heats the Milk to a much higher temperature for a shorter period of time. This destroys a protein called lactoferrin. It also affects the taste of the Milk. Pasteurisation is not a process that adds anything to the Milk, rather it is a process that takes things away. If it is done correctly then all it takes away is any bad bacteria that may be there. If it is done incorrectly, it can also take away some of the goodness of the milk and also some of its lovely taste. Continuous flow pasteurisation is one of these things that has happened due to the production of food becoming ever more industrialised. A change that was introduced in the name of ease for the producers rather than benefit for the consumers.

Changing back to smaller scale production has health and taste benefits in this instance. It is one of these cases where the old-fashioned way of doing things is better than what has been used more recently.

What is the difference between ‘Pasture Fed’ and ‘Grass Fed’?

What is the difference between ‘Pasture Fed’ and ‘Grass Fed’?

Mossgiel Organic Farm - Flowers In The Pasture
Pasture Fed – The Grass, The Whole Grass and nothing but The Grass!

‘Grass Fed’ means at some point the animal has eaten some grass, whereas ‘Pasture Fed’ means that all the animal has eaten is grass. No cereals or other non-grass feed.

‘Pasture Fed’ is therefore better than ‘Grass Fed’.

The marvellous Cows at Mossgiel Organic Farm are Pasture Fed 🙂 Of course they are! Just as nature intended. This diet makes for tastier Milk from the Cows (and also tastier Rosé Veal from the year-old bullocks).

Pasture-fed also means GM-free. Cows that only eat grass do not therefore eat any other type of animal feed. There are more than one million tonnes of GM animal feed imported into the UK each year; genetically modified soya beans and the like. Despite it being illegal for GM crops to be grown in the UK, there is no requirement for farmers who use GM animal feed to declare this on the packaging further down the supply chain. The only way for you to be absolutely sure that now GM food has passed your lips is to buy Organic. The Organic regulations specifically prohibit the use of GM animal feed as well as the production of GM crops.

Another consequence of feeding Cows the diet that nature intended for them is that they are much calmer and more chilled out. One of the things that doesn’t happen at Mossgiel Farm is the practice of de-horning the Cows. This is actually something that we are actively campaigning to stop. Some Farmers have remarked to not take the horns of the Cattle is irresponsible and dangerous, putting our workers in harms way. It turns out though that Cattle are much less worked up if they are not full of cereals! Think of giving a toddler a Mars bar – same idea. This means that it is quite possible to manage a herd of Cows with horns safely and humanely.

Is your milk pasteurised?

Yes, it is. It is illegal to sell raw milk in Scotland. Mossgiel Organic Farm only sells pasteurised milk.

The milk at Mossgiel Organic Farm is pasteurised in a different way to most milk on the shelves. Milk produced by “Big Dairy” uses a system called “Continuous Flow Pasteurisation”. This quickly heats the milk to a very high temperature before cooling it again. The problem with this method is that it destroys the protein lactoferrin, and alters the taste of the milk.

We heat our milk to a lower temperature – around 68 degrees – but we hold it at this temperature for 5 minutes. This takes more time than the continuous flow method, but it results in no destruction of lactoferrin and tastes better too.

What is non-homogenised?

Non-Homogenised Milk

Mossgiel Organic Milk is ALWAYS ‘non-homogenised’, that’s a fancy way of saying – ‘not highly processed’ or ‘as nature intended’.

During the journey from cow to your fridge, BIG DAIRY wants to make sure the milk always looks nice and white – from the first drop out of your plastic bottle to the very last.  This looks lovely on a supermarket shelf and is designed to make you buy more, but it really does ruin the lovely, natural flavour of nature’s original superfood.

During the process from cow to bottle, milk is forced through a ‘homogeniser’ unit at MASSIVE pressure – just like if you were trying to squeeze milk through your car windscreen washer jets.  This breaks up all the tasty cream into microscopic particles, so the cream doesn’t float to the top and cause family disagreements as to who is getting the ‘best bit’ at porridge time.

At Mossgiel Organic Farm, we prefer our milk the way nature intended: cream intact and not broken. Baristas prefer our milk in large part for this reason. Because our cream is in its natural form, it is able to take on the flavour of their coffee better. Baristas tend to take an awful lot of trouble sourcing their coffee beans. Why would you want to pair an excellent bean with a sub-standard milk? It makes much more sense to pair a premium bean with a premium milk that can cope with all that flavour.

What is cream?

Cream is the layer that rises to the top in non-homogenised milk. It is made up of a mixture of milk and butterfat. As it is slightly less dense than milk, it floats to the top if it is given enough time to settle. The fat in cream forms quite large globules that can be seen easily with the naked eye. In years gone by this was considered unsightly and was one of the reasons that milk began to be more highly processed and have the cream all mixed in with the milk itself.

What is skimmed milk?

Skimmed Milk is when almost all of the Cream is removed. In the UK, Skimmed Milk is usually about 0.5% Cream.

Contrast this with the natural fat percentages of Milk from Ayrshire Cows, which are in the range of 4.5% – 4.9% depending on the season.

The health benefits of removing the Cream from Milk have been much disputed in recent years. So much so that only reasonable justification for drinking Skimmed Milk would be on taste. As it is the Cream in Milk that carries most of the taste, this is why Mossgiel Organic Farm does not produce Skimmed Milk.

What is whole milk?

We would say that it depends who you speak to! If you’re speaking to us then whole milk means exactly what you would expect – all of the milk that our awesome herd of Ayrshire Cows produce (pasteurised, of course). Ayrshire Cows produce between 4.5% & 4.9% cream, depending on what time of the year it is. At the height of summer they produce more cream than in the depths of winter because in the winter months they are in the barn eating the silage that has been cut in the summer. Milk is a seasonal product! In these days of highly industrialised Milk flooding the shelves, this is an idea that seems to have been forgotten.

Speaking about highly processed milk, what passes for whole milk in the supermarkets  usually only means about 3.6% cream. This is the minimum level that the current regulations require to be called ‘whole milk’, so that is the level that industrialised milk is standardised to.

Why is whole milk standardised?

Because cream is worth more than milk. It is more expensive. If ‘big dairy’ can get away with quite literally ‘creaming off the top’ with even ‘whole milk’ then it means that they can sell the cream as well. So, the reason is pretty simple – money. Whoever asked for semi-skimmed or, even worse, skimmed milk anyway? No-one that we know! We would argue that the cream in Milk is really healthy and the idea that ‘all fats are bad’ is complete nutritional nonsense.

This standardisation has led to the belief that Milk is somehow exactly the same all year round, which is also clearly nonsense. It leads people away from having a connection with their food and where it comes from. It is good to note though that an increasing number of people are becoming wise to this and beginning to ask far more searching questions about the provenance of what they put in their bodies: where it comes from, how it is produced, the environmental impact.