Mama Never Served“ized” Milk

I was the “milker” on our chicken farm eight miles outside of Flemington, New Jersey.  Papa bought the farm in 1937 during the Depression.  It was my job to milk the cows every morning and night—we always had at least one milk producer. 

My favorites were Betty, a Jersey-Swiss cross, and Nodgy a purebred Swiss.  Betty’s milk was very creamy and Nodgy gave more milk.  I wondered how Nodgy ever got her name or what it means.

After the milk was strained to remove any straw or flies that fell into the milk pail, it was Mama’s milk.  She worked wonders with every drop of it.

We always drank fresh milk.  What was left over was separated after the cream rose to the top.  Mama skimmed the cream off.  We had it on our cereal and over compote or rice and bread pudding.  The rest was set aside to be churned into butter. 

We boys hated the tedious job of churning.  It was wonderful when finally the golden butter emerged—separated from the buttermilk.  The buttermilk was fed to the chickens in the wet mash.  We spread butter on the bread almost a quarter of an inch thick.

Meanwhile the skimmed milk turned sour and separated into custard-looking curds and pale-green watery whey.  The whey also went into making wet mash for the chickens.  I always wondered why Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet (a low stool) and ate curds and whey.

Mama poured the curds and whey through a cheesecloth funnel and the curds dripped until it became pot cheese.  We had the pot cheese in blintzes, mixed with vegetables, or with buttery noodles.

Mama’s milk was never ‘ized”.  Mama never gave us homogenized or pasteurized milk like the milk that was served to the city kids. 

City kids wanted only milk that came from a bottle.  Every morning during the summer when Mama had roomers and boarders from the city, she took the milk which I brought in, and filled several bottles and placed them in the icebox.  The city kids thought city milk was cold milk from a bottle. 

As long as we milked the cows, they gave milk.  That is, until the unborn calf grew larger and consumed more of the cow’s energy and production. 

When the calf was first born, it took the milk, for the first milk after birth is too rich and we could not use it.  If it was a bull calf, it was shortly sold for veal.  Every few years we raised a heifer to replace one of the “dry” cows.

Mama never served us “ized’ milk.