A2 Milk – What is it? Who cares?

I wonder…

Gallons and gallons of milk flowing out of dairies every day… well, actually they measure it in lbs… so I guess it would be more correct to say… “tons and tons of milk”.. a typical lifespan of a dairy-bound cow is said to be less than 4 years… 6 years is ANCIENT… They are truly milking machines… that is their entire lot in life at the dairy…to have babies they are not allowed to mother, just so they product milk… and milk… and milk… and more milk… and repeat.. and repeat… until they can’t do it any more, break down and are turned into “dinner”…

Quantity.

Breed of choice seems to be the Holstein because of the capacious udder… QUANTITY is important to the bottom line… HUGE cows with HUGE appetites to produce HUGE quantities of milk for the masses…

But what about QUALITY…. who cares? Right??? Cheaper the better… MORE is better…

OR.. maybe there IS something TO care about… and to ponder…

In the last couple years, I have been hearing more and more about “A2A2” cow milk… or A2 milk.. cow milk that even people with “lactose issues” can drink… HUH! Not something I had ever thought of… If you can’t drink cow’s milk, there is soy, almond, rice, goat, and now… camel, yak, etc… a plethora of options today… But, let’s be honest… that SOY latte doesn’t hold up… NOT EVEN CLOSE… to the richness and fulfilling texture of REAL milk in that same coffee… But more than that.. WHY has lactose become so much of a problem… for so many people? Fifty years ago no one would have even considered milk to be some sort of “evil” in the diet… wreaking havoc on digestive systems right and left… so common today that it is truly an epidemic and more people than NOT are struggling with it…

WHY??? What if… Maybe… it’s not lactose that is the problem… What then?

A2 milk first came to my attention a couple year back with our first milk cow, “Eve”. Eve was a Holstein/Jersey cross and a good “trainer” cow for us as a family. But there was something almost “magical” about Eves’s milk… 4 different “lactose intolerant” friends, and my mom included, were able to DRINK Eve’s milk… That made NO sense at all! People that had avoided milk for years, were suddenly delving with relish into this milk! We thought that it was because it was RAW, UNPASTEURIZED… (and there ARE benefits to THAT… but that is a different story…) BUT… Eve was hit by a car and killed and with her passing, went the magical milk… We began milking another of our cows to replace Eve’s milk, but it wasn’t the same… the milk was just as rich and sweet, raw and unpasteurized, but suddenly, all our “lactose intolerant” friends were back to having the symptoms they had always suffered with with cow’s milk, and stopped being able to drink it again…

WHAT WAS GOING ON???

We began asking around if anyone else had ever experienced anything like this.. and a goat friend told us about the “protein” properties of milk… not just the lactose (or sugar properties). She said that goat’s milk, along with other milks that people turn to, has a smaller protein beta casein called A2 naturally. The smaller protein makes it easier to digest and therefore does not cause the issues that the larger proteins can (as in A1 cow’s milk). She went on to tell us that old world cattle were much different than today’s in that they were all A2. A natural mutation in the dairy herds introduced the A1 beta casein proteins. Cow milk that was once all A2 slowly became “tainted” with this mutation.

As cattle began to be bred more and more for quantity of milk, the A2 casein began to be bred out in favor of bigger and bigger cattle and udders. Today’s cattle are almost all A1A1 or A1A2 casein protein. A2 cows have become the minority and hard to find…

The cow that replaced Eve was A1A2. But we didn’t know for sure if Eve was an A2 cow… we had never tested her for that genetic marker… But the thought began to stir in us that maybe we should be looking at our cows in a different light..

We began gathering protein beta cassin data on each of our herd members… NONE of our milking cows were A2… so, we went looking for A2 cows to add to the herd, and A2 bulls to breed with.

It was a MUCH more difficult task than we realized! Even in our mini jerseys, A2 cattle were extremely rare… the majority we found were A1A1 beta casein, and occasionally an A1A2. So we decided to start “turning” our herd towards A2 beta casein genetics as another marker trait we wanted in our cattle. We stopped adding A1 beta casein cows to the herd and started breeding only to A2 bulls… And this spring, we purchased an A2 cow that freshened in the first weeks of March… Our FIRST A2 milking cow since Eve died…

And GUESS WHAT??? Our lactose friends, my mom included, are DRINKING THE MILK WITHOUT ISSUE!! Holy COW!! (as my husband would say… “the angels are singing”!)…

The excitement among our shareholders is growing DAILY. I have had people bringing the milk home to try out on their mom, dad, friend, child… all with the same results… The feedback has been 100% the same so far these last couple weeks… the A2 milk is a dream for them… they can drink it… and their reported issues have diminished or disappeared…

HUH!

I think this will be a story that with be “TO BE CONTINUED”… I am excited to find out more about people’s experiences and will post them as they come in…

All I know for sure is that side-by-side, the cows are the same… the only thing different is that genetic marker for the protein… What did we lose to gain QUANTITY…?

Here are some of the other things I have learned about A2 milk:

– Human milk is A2 and has less than one-thousandth the potential of adverse effects compared to A1 cows’ milk.

– Milks containing mostly A2 proteins are often said to be better for “allergies” (such as gut, skin, rashes, hayfever, cough).

– There is also research to suggest that A1 beta casein my be associated with serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes type 1 and autism.

– Products made with A2 milk have the same positive effects as the milk itself

– Allergic rhinitis (stuffy and runny nose, chronic cough, congestion, hayfever during pollen season) appears to be related to A1 milk, but not A2.

– A1 beta cassein has been proven and confirmed in studies to increase levels of inflammation in the gut and associated immune effects. Not so with A2.

– Behavioral issues have also been linked to A1 beta casein; when switched to A2, there was a marked decrease in the behaviors.

– Read “Devil in the Milk” by Professor Keith Woodford

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Recipe of the Month – March 2015 – Quick Cottage or Ricotta Cheese

This is a SUPER FAST and EASY recipe that has become a weekly make in our home.  I love it because it doesn’t require starters to do..  just Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice!  For a general purpose cheese, use the Apple Cider Vinegar; for a dessert cheese, the Lemon Juice works perfectly!  🙂

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 gallon milk (anything will work but ultra-pasteurized) – whole milk is best for richness

1/2 C apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

1 T salt – 1 tsp at a time (you will want to use less or none for dessert cheese)

Cream or milk

Cheesecloth

Colander

Directions:  Heat your milk to a gentle boil (or about 200 degrees).  Turn off the heat and add the vinegar or lemon juice.  The milk should begin separating right away.  The whey needs to fully separate from the curds (whey should be yellowish clear, not milky… if milky, add in an additional amount of your acid approx 1 T at a time until you achieve the correct whey consistency).  Allow to rest for a couple minutes until complete separation is achieved – the curds will be well-defined from the whey at this point.Image result for cheese whey

Once separated, pour the whey and curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl or pot.  Put the drained curds into a bowl and stir in the salt, breaking up the curds into small pieces.  You can also add herbs or other ingredients at this point for a gourmet flair… (my favorites are Parmesan, Sun-dried tomatoes and Garlic).

Image result for cheese whey

Add cream or milk back in to the curds about 1/2 C at a time until desired creaminess is achieved… this is based on your personal preference, but usually I end up adding back about 1 1/2 C. The curds will re-absorb the liquid so it is OK to add extra. 🙂

Enjoy warm, or cover bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.  When you are ready to use, you may want to add additional cream / milk to adjust the consistency (drier for ricotta, moist for cottage cheese).

NOW WHAT?  What do I do with the whey?

Whey is a WONDERFUL by-product of cheese making… you will end up with about 3/4 gallon of whey from your cheese-making process…  There are tons of uses for it but some of my favorites are:

  • Make a rich stock (use whey as your base instead of water)
  • Bake with it – use it in place of water in recipes
  • Baby formula – use in place of waterImage result for liquid whey
  • Add to your smoothies and shakes – why buy the powdered stuff?  You have the best of the best made right in your kitchen!
  • Give it to your animals – incredibly high in pure protein
  • Spray it on your garden and plants to control mildew and lower the pH of the soil
  • Bathe in it / use it to soften and condition skin
  • Freeze it for later…

Monday Egg Scramble Answer – Feb 9th

Question: True or False: Eggs dropped in water should always float!

Answer: FALSE – A fresh egg dropped into plain water will sink to the bottom of the pan and rest there.

There are two simple ways to test how fresh your eggs are. One requires cracking the egg, and one doesn’t.

The simplest way to test for egg freshness is to submerge it in container of water.

  • A very fresh egg will lie flat on the bottom.
  • An egg that’s about a week old will be slightly buoyant, so it will rise up from the bottom of the water just a little.
  • By three weeks old, an egg will stand straight up in the water.

The reason this test works is that every egg has a thin membrane inside which forms a small air pocket. As the egg ages, the air pocket expands, and as it expands, the egg becomes more buoyant.

If your egg is floating, that is NOT a good sign… and, I would not be in a hurry to add it to your plate! Happy Monday! 😉

Eggs floating in water. - Howard Shooter / Getty Images

 

Recipe of the Month – February 2015 – Crock pot Yogurt

Happy Groundhog Day!

So I hear that Prognosticator of Prognosticators ‘ole Phil the Groundhog SAW his shadow today for another 6 more weeks of winter…. well, Phil… since this winter hasn’t been too awfully bad (at least here in Colorado), I think we can manage… BUT I WAS hoping for that early Spring…. 🙂

This month’s recipe is a mainstay in our household… I LOVE this EASY recipe.. If you and your family are yogurt fans, you will love this one too…

What you will need:

1/2 Gal of Milk (Raw or Pasteurized – but NOT ultra-pasteurized)
1/2 C Plain Greek Yogurt (or other culture of your choice)
1 Crock pot
1 cooking thermometer
1/2 C containers

Instructions:

Pour milk into the crock pot. Cover and heat on LOW until the temperature reaches 180 degrees. Turn the heat off and let cool in the crock pot until the temp is between 105-110 degrees.

TIP: I stir occasionally to minimize the film tat forms on the top (it will NOT re-dissolve). Skim off the film that does occur.

Pull a little of the warm milk out and whisk in 1/2 C of plain yogurt. Pour mixture back into crock pot and whisk to combine. Put the lid back on and wrap crock pot in a towel. Place wrapped pot in the oven and leave the oven light on if possible. Let sit undisturbed for 8 hours. Remove and refrigerate for 3 hours to allow for complete cooling.

Strain through cheese cloth for thicker yogurt.

Portion into 1/2 cup servings and leave plain to use for cooking / eating in place of sour cream OR create your favor flavors using fresh or frozen fruit, fruit preserves and flavorings (almond, vanilla, agave, honey).

Our favorite flavors are Peach, and Honey Vanilla – add 2 T of peach preserves to 1/2 C yogurt for peach; add 1 t vanilla and 1 T honey to 1/2 C yogurt for Honey Vanilla…

ENJOY!

TIP: THIS FREEZES VERY WELL… in the summer, we make a batch and freeze into our own fruit yogurt smoothie bars 🙂