Milk is milk is milk. Or is it? We tend to treat milk as a commodity, thanks to modern methods of milking, storage and distribution able to rely on the product we buy as reasonably fresh and of even quality. But what about the flavour? The satisfying taste of real old-fashioned milk? For that we can count on Jersey milk.
Jersey cows are found around the world; they are the fastest growing breed worldwide, thanks to their gentle disposition, relative good health, milk to size ratio, and adaptability to their environment. But most importantly from the consumer’s point of view, they produce milk which is higher in butterfat than other breeds at around 6 per cent; can be around 20 per cent higher in calcium-content than ordinary milk; and is richer in protein.
On the island of Jersey itself the bloodline for the breed is thought to date back to Viking occupation. The Jersey was recognized as a distinct type at the start of the 18th century, and in 1789 special measures were taken that protected its purity, and allowed selective breeding to improve the stock. In effect the island at that time banned imports of cattle.
While we all like the idea of health-foods – try living without protein - if Jersey milk tasted nasty for all its superior qualities we would not bother with it. But that high butterfat content is satisfying; even the colour, straw yellow, pleases (poetically if perhaps exaggeratedly sometimes called ‘buttercup’ yellow). This is not the milk for tea, but for drinking neat, for making pancakes, and for processing into rich Jersey cream, ice-cream, and butter – Jersey butter, hopefully soon to be granted Protected Designation of Origin status.