Tag Archives: homogenisation

A pint of personality

It’s morning. You’re pouring milk over your cereal and a thick glob lands on your cornflakes as you tip the carton. What do you do? These days most people don’t expect to find cream in their milk, so many think this yellow blob mean it’s gone off. Homogenised milk is the norm today, and the cream line is an endangered beast.

Homogenisation is a mechanical process which breaks up the cream’s fat globules so they don’t float to the top, and distributes them throughout the liquid. There are several reasons behind this; it increases the whiteness of milk and stops ‘unsightly’ cream streaking, it reduces its fatty sensation, which large-scale processors believe consumers don’t want, and creates a uniform consistency, crucial when processing milk in huge volumes.

We don’t homogenise at the Riverford Dairy as we feel it’s unnecessary, adding to the carbon footprint of the product, purely for cosmetic reasons. Our philosophy of keeping things simple applies here and anecdotal evidence suggests it’s a big factor in our milk’s popularity; it means it’s got personality.

Mass-produced milk travels from many farms and is standardised at enormous processing plants before bottling, so there’s no difference month to month. Riverford milk only comes from our herd (though occasionally we have to top it up a bit), so its flavour and colour reflect what’s going on in the farming year – and the milking parlour is 200 yards from the dairy. Come springtime when the cows go out their milk is lighter at first, then becomes richer and more yellow as new grasses and clovers come through. In the winter they eat mainly silage and hay, so the milk changes again. Our cows also get what doesn’t fill your veg boxes (nicked spuds, dented apples) which we think adds to their milk’s deep flavour.

Some people believe that unhomogenised milk is better for you too, linking it to a lower risk of heart attacks – however not all scientists agree on this. It’s probably best to stick to the old adage that nature knows best. We don’t mess with your milk, we just pasteurise and pack it, so enjoy your pint of personality. Though technically it’s 568ml – it just doesn’t sound as romantic.

Rachel Lovell from Riverford’s ‘bucking bovines’ video

Homogenisation – what do you think?

Homogenisation is a mechanical process which breaks up the fat globules of cream in whole and semi-skimmed milk, and distributes them throughout the liquid so that they do not float to the top. Basically it gets rid of the cream layer. There are a number of reasons why this is done; it is said to reduce the ‘fatty sensation’ of whole milk, which producers believe consumers do not want; it increases the whiteness of the milk, making it more appealing to customers (when sold in transparent bottles), but most of all it creates a liquid of uniform consistency, avoiding the development of a cream plug which can cause problems when processing milk on huge scales.

We have an interesting situation here at Riverford because at our Devon dairy we don’t homogenise. We like to give people the option of giving the carton a shake if they want the cream mixed through the milk, or to have a nice glob of cream on their cereal if they so fancy. Meanwhile a survey sent out by Acorn Dairy, our organic milk producer in North-East England came back saying the majority of their customers wanted homogenised milk as they think it tastes better in tea. Which do you prefer?