Take a gulp of raw milk for the first time and you probably wouldn’t recognise it as the stuff you drank as a child. It’s richer, creamier, and more distinctive. Each bottle differs in taste – raw milk changes from summer to winter, cow to cow. Where cattle graze has an impact on flavour.
Raw dairy is finally starting to get the mainstream attention it deserves – it’s now not only foodies and rural folk who opt for that silky, buttery hit of unctuous white stuff (well, actually, it’s more yellow in colour).
The crucial difference between the cartons you pick up in the supermarket and the raw stuff is that is that raw milk is unpasteurised. This means the milk (and butter, cheese, yoghurt made from it) hasn’t been heated and likely homogenised to kill harmful bacteria such as E coli.
The science of pasteurisation has been around since the late 1800s. It is an efficient way to ensure milk lasts longer, and all risk – however minute – is eliminated. There are living organisms in dairy and some of them aren’t welcome.
But an increasing number of people believe the process damages the flavour and they're willing to run the (admittedly miniscule) risk of illness in pursuit of the perfect pint. Sup on raw milk for the first time and things change – it’s no longer just a tea top-up or something to make batter with, but a beautiful drink in itself. What’s more, improved and modernised farming techniques, as practised by producers such as Jonathan Crickmore, have rendered the dangers of consuming raw dairy far slighter.