Churt Road, Churt, GU35 8SS
A family farm producing raw milk and cream and their own-label ice cream.
Main event: Milk and cream a world away from the homogenized product.
Is it worth the calories?: Well, is it true that raw cream doesn’t make you fat?!
Tips: You can only buy raw milk direct from the farmer.
Celia and Pete are one of the rare breed of farmers still producing raw milk and cream – chilled but otherwise straight from the cow. There’s still a huge debate about the safety and nutritional value of raw milk. However they have been drinking their milk since they started production and, while they understandably don’t want me to publish their ages, they are well over retirement age, and are fit (and lean) – a shining advert for their product.
They’ve been selling raw milk from their small herd of pedigree Jersey’s since 1967. Currently they have about 60 cows plus another 70 or so calves on their 250 acres. They graze outdoors all summer and winter indoors on home-produced maize and grass silage and hay, supplemented by commercial cow feed. The cream is separated in the dairy and the skimmed milk fed to their five pigs – who then feed the family.
Celia says: ‘Raw milk is absolutely wonderful. It can be digested in its natural form so you benefit from all the nutrients in milk. The live bacteria (friendly ones and unfriendly) stimulate the immune system.’ She says her kids went straight from breast to cow and they’ve all flourished. Pasteurisation, she says, destroys the natural enzymes and the body can’t deal with the milk. Homogenisation is worse: the fat globules are processed until they’re so small the body doesn’t recognize them as food and so stores it – making you fat. Lots of people with children with excema, asthma, Crohnes disease and other ailments are so much better when they substitute raw milk for pasteurized, she says.
While she’s keen on naturally occurring bacteria and enzymes in the milk, Celia says producing raw milk requires exacting standards of cleanliness in the yard and rigorous herd management – all in the expert hands of son Mark. Daughter Julie, a trained chef, develops the ice-cream business.
So, it’s for you to weigh up the health benefits or otherwise – what does it taste like? Celia’s milk is a deep golden yellow. It’s creamy with a soft texture, quite unlike the fatty feeling of pasteurized milk. The cream whips to a gorgeously luxurious texture. It’s illegal to sell ice-cream made from raw milk, but their unflavoured ice-cream, tasting deliciously of cream itself, is a testament to the quality of their product. And they have eighteen other flavours, including the fashionable salted caramel and some dairy-free sorbets.
Celia sells at the farm gate (several regulars popped in while I was there) and at the Milford, Petersfield and Winchester Farmers’ Markets. Her family are keen to keep the business going, with faith in their product despite strict regulation, low milk prices and twelve-hour days. In this case eating is believing!
Tel 01428 712155