As the third largest national producer, New York is home to an amazing array of great dairy products. New York leads the country in the making of cottage cheese and Greek style yogurt, and is the third largest producer of cheese. At the top of all agricultural industry, dairy in New York employs 1.4 million dairy cattle on more than 6,000 dairy farms to produce 12 billion pounds of milk a year that is worth nearly $2 billion. In 2012 New York dairy farmers produced one billion pounds of milk.
When milk is pasteurized it is heated to a high temperature (145 – 163 degrees) for approximately half an hour to kill harmful bacteria. Most milk is pasteurized at the lowest temperature possible to minimize any negative effects that the heat process might impart on the taste of the milk. When you see unrefrigerated boxed milk on the shelf in a grocery store, it has most likely been subjected to ultra high pasteurization which involves sterilizing milk for 1 to 2 seconds at a temperature of 285 degrees.
Homogenization of milk is the process of breaking up fat molecules to achieve an extremely small particle size. This is done so that the tiny fat molecules will stay suspended evenly throughout the milk.
Raw milk is milk that has not been pastuerized and in many cases has not been homogenized. Raw milk can only be sold from the farm where it is produced and it must bear a label that warns consumers about potential health risks that are associated with nonpasteurized milk products.
Two popular milk brands in the Hudson Valley are Ronnybrook Farm Dairy and Hudson Valley Fresh. Hudson Valley Fresh is a cooperative of dairy farmers in Columbia and Dutchess counties that offers pasteurized and homogenized whole, 2%, and skim milk, half and half and chocolate milk – available in plastic half gallon containers. Ronnybrook offers a line of glass bottled milks that are pastuerized but not homogenized.
The products of Ronnybrook and Hudson Valley Fresh are available at Hudson Valley Hannaford locations, Adams Fair Acre Farms, Fleishers Grassfed and Organic Meats (Kingston and Brooklyn locations), and GiGi Market at Greig Farm in Red Hook.
In Ghent, 45 minutes south of Albany off the Taconic Parkway, Hawthorne Valley Farm is selling their line of organic, biodynamic raw milk products at their farm market store.
Coach Farm, maker of Coach Farms Goat Cheese, offers homogenized whole goat’s milk in half gallon containers and is available at Adams Fair Acre Farms stores in Poughkeepsie and Kingston.