Julia Child once said to me, “Give me steak, butter and cheese and I’m happy!” God bless her, she lived into her 90’s, but she also ate salad, vegetables and fish along with drinking red wine!
Thinking about that glass of milk you just drank. Well it came from a farm and the farmer may have had many different cows’ milk in it. Probably in that glass was the milk of Holsteins, the black-and-white ones, from Guernsey's, the brown and white ones, from Jerseys, the brown ones with the cute eyes and from brown Swiss, the slightly tan colored ones. Why is this important to us? Well, it all comes down to the quantity of milk produced, butterfat content of the milk and how much money the farmer will get for his milk. The Holsteins produce the most milk and have the lowest butterfat and contribute to the weight of the milk that is sold. They were introduced into the USA in the mid 1650’s by the Dutch when they settled in the Hudson Valley of New York. They produce around 28,000 lbs. with 2.5-3.6% butterfat and total protein of 3.2%. Brown Swiss produces the second largest quantity of milk per year, producing 20,000 lbs. with 4.0% butterfat and total protein of 3.5%, making their milk excellent for production of cheese. Guernsey cows produce a richer milk and a higher butterfat content and the Holsteins, although three-fifths the size, they produce 14,700 lbs. with 4.5% butterfat and a total protein of 3.5 Jerseys like the Guernsey, are small, but produce relatively large amounts of milk on average, 16,000 lbs with a high butterfat content of 4.9%, and total protein 3.7%. I almost forgot to mention they are beautiful cows with loving eyes! That's important because the farmer gets paid by the hundred weight of his milk, 100 pounds or cwt. The amount a farmer is paid per cwt varies depending on which part of the USA they are in and how milk is used in that region. If it was just the first selling the milk he wouldn't bother with the other three cows. He adds the other cows because of their butterfat content in the milk, making the farmers milk more valuable bases on it’s class, chat class of milk it is determines the price. There are four classes; Class I is fluid/drinking milk, Class II is soft products like yogurt/ice cream, Class III is hard cheese and Class IV is butter and milk powder. Each class has a different dollar value which changes monthly based on a variety of factors such as supply, demand, export market, and the amount of each product in storage waiting to be sold. To learn more about pricing go to http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aib761/aib761.pdf So why is this even something that would interest a cook? Well, it might not, but it's still important to know the process. What is important, is knowing the butterfat content--- Milk skim milk contains less than 0.5% fat, typically 0.1% low fat milk contains between 0.5–2% fat; 1% and 2% varieties are widely marketed whole milk contains at least 3.25% fat goat’s milk 3.5 % coconut milk 21% Cheeses dry curd and nonfat cottage cheese contain less than 0.5% fat cottage cheese contains at least 4% fat low fat cottage cheese contains 0.5–2% fat Cheddar cheese contains at least 50% fat Swiss cheese contains at least 43% fat French Explorateur cheese is a whopping 75% Buffalo Mozzarella 8% Frozen Dairy ice cream contains at least 10% fat ice milk and low fat ice cream, contains 2.6% fat Creams half and half contains 10.5–18% fat light cream and sour cream contain 18–30% fat whipping cream contains 30–36% fat heavy cream contains a minimum of 36% fat Butter Butter contains at least 75% fat Clarified butter or Ghee is 100% fat