Unusual Cheese You Won't Find in Your Local Shop - Part 3
By Jeffree Wyn Itrich, Queso Diego Member since 2012
Finishing up on our series covering cheeses made from unusual milks (by U.S. standards but by no means unusual in some other countries), we’ll take a look at cheeses made from camel milk and moose milk.
Camel Milk Cheese
Camel’s milk is relatively low in fat, so the yield is low as well and it’s near impossible to coagulate the milk for cheesemaking. But, cheese can be made with it and, where there’s a will, there’s a whey. Due primarily to today’s technology, camel’s milk can be coagulated using vegetable rennet and camel rennet. (Veal rennet is not effective.)
In the US, it’s very costly to raise camels for milk production because female camels must be at least four years old before they can be bred and then the gestation period is 13 months. They will only produce milk after giving birth to a calf and the suckling process begins. A typical camel produces around two gallons of milk a day in two 90-second long bursts and only while a calf is in the act of nursing (from a different teat). And once you’ve got the milk, you can’t do much with it other than drink it unless you utilize the aforementioned veggie and camel rennet.
While you might think you’d have to go to the mid-east to get some camel milk, there are a few camel dairies in the US, and we are lucky that one is in SD county and the other in Riverside county. As far as we know, none of them are selling cheese, but you can buy milk from them and try making your own with veggie rennet (good luck acquiring camel rennet). Buy much of it and you better cash in on your 401k, the stuff is expensive! Desert Farms in Temecula sells raw or frozen camel’s milk, at $108 per 16 oz, kefir, dried milk powder and a variety of products. http://desertfarms.com A little closer to home in SD County, depending on where in the county you live, is the Oasis Camel Dairy Farm located between Ramona and Santa Ysabel where Hwy 78 and 79 meet. It’s not open daily; you must call ahead to schedule a visit. http://www.cameldairy.com Presently they sell only camel soap and body products but who knows, maybe you can talk them into selling you some milk to make some cheese. Be warned though, camel's milk has a distinct taste that's slightly saltier and more watery than other, more familiar milk varieties.
The current camel population in the U.S. is approximately 5,000 and is predicted to increase because scientists are touting camel's milk as the next superfood. Naturally a few American entrepreneurs and farmers are gearing up to meet the anticipated demand. Not surprisingly, the Amish are ahead of the camel curve and have spearheaded several camel dairy farms. They are major proponents of the healthy healing powers of camel's milk, especially its ability to help improve symptoms in children afflicted with autism and attention deficit disorder.
Much further from home, a company in Dubai Camelicious began selling camel’s milk cheese in January, 2013. They produce three varieties, plus sell powdered camel’s milk which might work for making cheese. http://www.camelicious.ae/products.php At present Camelicious products do not seem to be available in the U.S. however they are hoping to expand to our shores.
Tiviski Dairy in Mauretania www.tiviski.com uses the added-enzyme method to produce Caravane, a $30 per pound camel’s milk cheese now available in selected U.S. east coast markets.
Camel milk is used to make Caravane, a low lactose brand of cheese found in South Africa. It’s a soft cheese with a white crust and is often used in cakes, dips, appetizers, numerous vegetable preparations, and typically paired with red wine.
Moose Milk Cheese
Moose milk is highly touted by some nutritionists – the Ivan Susanin Sanitorium in Russia serves it to their patients – but you don’t have to be committed to enjoy the sublime flavor of moose milk cheese. You do, however, have to be a big spender: we’re talking $$455 per pound. Though moose aren’t rare, milking them is difficult. Milkers must spend up to two hours in complete silence in order to extract an average half gallon per sitting. Despite Bullwinkle’s penchant for non-stop talking, female moose (meese?) prefer quiet while being milked.
Compared to cow’s milk, moose milk is higher in butterfat and solids while boasting elevated levels of aluminum, iron, selenium, and zinc. The Elk House (Älgens Hus) farm in Bjursholm, Sweden, is currently the world’s only volume producer of moose cheese and the amount made is rather small: just about 660 lbs annually. Three domesticated females named Gullan, Haelga, and Juna provide the “moose juice” required to make the cheese. They make three varieties of cheese: a rind-style, a blue and a feta.
Dairy animal facts
- Cattle produce 83 percent of world milk production, followed by buffaloes with 13 percent, goats with 2 percent and sheep with 1 percent; camels provide 0.3 percent. The remaining share is produced by other dairy species such as equines and yaks.
- About one-third of milk production in developing countries comes from buffaloes, goats, camels and sheep. In developed countries, almost all milk is produced by cattle.
- Cattle produce about three-quarters of milk production in sub-Saharan Africa, about half in Asia – with most of the other half coming from buffaloes – and nearly all the milk produced in Latin America.
- Milk from dairy species other than cattle represents 39 percent of milk production in Asia, 24 percent in Africa, 3 percent in Europe and 0.4 percent in the Americas; it is almost non-existent in Oceania.
Source: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations