Tag Archives: Irish Milk

The Buzz

I imagine if you needed to wake the dead, you could just pasteurize milk in their vicinity. Think high pitched buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
If you’re a visitor to our home and not accustomed to this buzzing (we’ve become so familiar with it that we no longer hear it), you might jump from your chair. But really, the pasteuriser is a behind the scenes sort of affair like the rollers in the farmer’s wife’s hair of a Saturday evening, so you’d have to know and love us to ever hear that buzz.
The farmer carries the steel bucket to the milking parlour daily. While he’s milking, he’ll fill it up with creamy milk and run over at some point to bring it to the kitchen table. It’s laborious but like anything worthwhile, worth it. From here, I place the steel bucket into the pasteuriser and fill up around the bucket and plug it in. It takes about ten minutes to come to boiling and then comes the earth shattering buzz. Instinctively, at the hint of a tiny warning buzz, I get to the machine and switch it off. Then comes the glugging. A water hose is attached and milk it cooled. Glug, glug, glug, glug, glug. You might use the water coming out to wash the dishes or when it’s cool, water a couple of plants. Glug, glug, glug. It goes on for a while.
When it has cooled, I lift the stainless steel bucket out and start filling the jugs. I use a funnel to pour the milk into the thinner necked bottles and fill a few small jugs for the dinner table or fancy jug for a visitor. It’s messy.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a lucky thing I married a Dairy Farmer with my tendancy to produce sons, for my God, when I say I pasteurise milk daily, I pasteurise milk daily. One gallon a day. In their defense, I also use the milk to make bread, bechamels, yoghurts and any dish that I can liberally apply milk or indeed cream. It is gorgeous. It’s the only word to describe it. Gorgeous. When you pour the milk into the jugs you see the creamy content and it’s true, the cream does rise to the top. It’s an accustomed taste, because it tastes strongly of farm if you catch my drift. When the cows are on grass, really lovely June grass, it’s best, you can taste the lazy rumination of a Summer’s day. By November, when the cows are in, you can almost taste the strength of silage. And I love to open the fridge and see jugs of creamy fresh milk on the top shelf waiting for their culinary adventure or pour into a little boy’s glass.

It is the best part of the job. Watching the cows outside the window grazing on green grass, I am thankful for their milk and the abundance it brings to our dining table. We are very lucky indeed and I love our cows for that.


Chocolate Icecream

I caught you. Just had to mention homemade chocolate icecream. Works every time. Although, this is not a foodie blog, the writer loves food and I should hope the reader does too. By the by, why do I write it? I write it because a). I’ve always loved writing and b). I love talking. And you keep listening. A one way conversation. That said, you’re always welcome to talk back (ah go on).

So our lovely Adelaide is making her way back to France next week and there will be tears. A lot. There may be tantrums, pleading and wailing in Cork airport. She will be missed, not only for her kindness and love but also for her crêpes. So to thank her for putting up with us for the eight heaven sent weeks in which she gently accompanied us through the first two months of Anthony’s life, we’re having a party, funnily enough a crêpe party. Honestly, she keeps putting the crêpe pan down but somehow it manages to hop back into her hand. Magic.

As it’s her leaving do, we, the Hearthill crew, are going to help out. All heart, literally. Our contribution; Hearthill chocolate icecream. The cows are grazing outside the window (see image attached) this morning and we are using their delicious milk and cream. Thank you girls. The mix is ready and about to go into the freezer and later in celebration of the lovely French girl who got the farmer’s wife back on her feet, it will melt onto authentic Briton crêpes alongside strawberries. Adelaide will forever have a place at our table and in our chocolate and crêpe loving hearts. Toujours.

Dairy Wars

Ah now France. You have the wine, ah French wine. You have the boulangeries filled with croissants, pains aux raisins, baguettes. France, we bow to your pains aux chocolat. France (look away my Italian friends), I’ll give you the oil. En plus, vous avez des crêpes. But France, France, France, listen now, we’ve got the milk.

We have a French dairy farmer’s daughter staying with us for the summer so as you can imagine the subject of milk often arises. Milk might come up when say, subtle hints in the vein of ‘oh-wouldn’t-it-be-lovely-to-have-an-authentic-Breton-crêpe-now’ are dropped. As I say, subtle. And when you have a lovely Breton girl standing eagarly by with a crêpe pan and a litre of Irish milk, some eggs and flour, who are we to refuse!

And this, my friends, is where I begin to betray my city origins. I’m boastful about our milk.  No right thinking and modest North Kerry dairy farmer would be so confident about his dairy product. It could always have more protein and fat content. But you’re not pulling the wool over my eyes North Kerry; as a result of this year’s wonderful summer, the year’s milk yield is delicious. Silky, thick and creamy.

In the face of such betrayal of milky modesty, Adelaide and her family insist we come to Brittany to try their milk. We spoke to our lovely French compatriots via Skype last week and got on like a house on fire.  Although I must have been absent the day they taught us the French for slurry pit and fertilizer spreader at college. At length, we spoke about our respective farming methods and of course we discussed the farming challenges that face our farmers (plus ça change…) but the question of who has the better milk has yet to be settled. Alas, needs must, a trip to Brittany for the blind milk test it must then be.

Until then, in the interest of Franco-Hiberno relations, it’s probably best not to mention the bainne*.  As it turns out, it’s a bit of a sour subject (!).


*bainne – Irish word for milk