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GREAT Milk?


nick
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It's clearly a "grass is greener" sort of thing, but in my travels around the region and around the country as a coffee-guy, everyone out there from the Carolinas to Pennsylvania to (especially) northern California seems to have access to much better milk than we do here in the DC area.

We've been using Shenandoah Pride milk since pretty much day one. Sourcing from a fairly large milk producer has some advantages, esp. when it comes to consistency. Some of the smaller producers, though the quality of their milk is better, experience seasonality-issues (i.e., when the cows switch to different feed... something that's apparently an issue in certain regions but not others).

All said, as we're constantly re-examining everything we do, we want better milk. After all, especially when it comes to our milky-drinks (latte, cappuccino, etc.), you're talking about a significant percentage of milk.

Some other notes:

Organic isn't necessarily better-quality milk.

I looked into sourcing Jersey milk, which is milk from the Jersey breed of milking cow, which are brown-and-white instead of black-and-white, which are Holsteins. Holsteins dominate US milk production, but because of productio volume, not because of quality. Jersey herds do exist in the US here and there, but are rare. There ARE Jersey herds fairly locally. The bad news is that that the Jersey milk that IS produced is processed into the Holstein production, to help boost fat and protein content (Jersey milk is superior for these). The closest Jersey processors are in South Carolina and New Hampshire... too far to deliver.

"Better milk" is creamier and more flavorful. Sweeter.

So... any leads? Ideas? Thoughts? Comments?

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... (especially) northern California seems to have access to much better milk...

Someone has to say it... Happy Cows. :blink:

But seriously, I agree. I grew up in northern California no other milk has ever compared to Clover brand. (Although Clover has grown a lot since way back when, so not sure if that still holds true. ) However, getting milk from the west coast is probably not a realistic option due to shipping costs, not to mention time and temperature issues.

Locally, I am a fan of Garelick heavy cream as I posted about here, but I've never tried their milk.

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I"ve been buying grass-fed milk from a dairy at the Falls Church Farmers Market on Saturdays. The skim tastes like real milk and not water with a bit of milk. I can't remember the dairy name, but I won't drink store milk any more. They also have yogurt, full-fat cream and some cheeses.

Tobey

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I buy my milk from my organic market. I'll admit, I don't remember the dairy. I love it, but think the significant issue is the SHST pasteurization (I think I have the acronym wrong--it's short time high temperature). [sorry, typing with one hand] The milk is sweet and flavorful (and I buy skim for drinking). Problem is, it goes bad very fast and really needs to be kept refrigerated...

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This blog entry from Cornucopia Institute was just forwarded to me, so I am passing it on to those of you who buy organic milk.

I personally stopped shelling out the extra money for most organic dairy products eons ago, but having picked up Horizon 's heavy cream at Whole Foods yesterday because it was less expensive than the other brands, I found the information illuminating.

A quick google-search indicates that Cornucopia has been after Horizon--more specifically, Dean Foods--for several years, questioning just how apt "organic" is in labeling the products of a large (Pollan fans, heed) agribusiness.

Waitman, ready for another boycott?

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This blog entry from Cornucopia Institute was just forwarded to me, so I am passing it on to those of you who buy organic milk.

I personally stopped shelling out the extra money for most organic dairy products eons ago, but having picked up Horizon 's heavy cream at Whole Foods yesterday because it was less expensive than the other brands, I found the information illuminating.

A quick google-search indicates that Cornucopia has been after Horizon--more specifically, Dean Foods--for several years, questioning just how apt "organic" is in labeling the products of a large (Pollan fans, heed) agribusiness.

Waitman, ready for another boycott?

Horizon Milk is about as organic as a Saddlebacked 17 year old is a virgin!
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This blog entry from Cornucopia Institute was just forwarded to me, so I am passing it on to those of you who buy organic milk.

I personally stopped shelling out the extra money for most organic dairy products eons ago, but having picked up Horizon 's heavy cream at Whole Foods yesterday because it was less expensive than the other brands, I found the information illuminating.

A quick google-search indicates that Cornucopia has been after Horizon--more specifically, Dean Foods--for several years, questioning just how apt "organic" is in labeling the products of a large (Pollan fans, heed) agribusiness.

Waitman, ready for another boycott?

I only sometimes buy organic dairy products. It depends on where I'm shopping, what lines they carry, and pricing, plus things like the expiration date on the cartons. (We don't use much milk, so date is a major factor in what kind I buy oftentimes.) I mostly stopped buying Horizon a few years ago when I read about some of those things, including their relationship with Wal*Mart. Organic Valley refused to comply with Wal*Mart's terms, and I switched to buying their products for that reason. The primary product from OV I buy is their cottage cheese, which has wonderful mouthfeel. Whole Foods was out of it a couple of trips ago and I reluctantly bought Horizon because I really wanted cottage cheese. Organic Valley is simply better, IMO. I love it and I'll pay extra for it.

Almost every line of heavy/whipping cream I can find is UHP, which doesn't whip as well as regular cream. The only two kinds I can find that aren't are Natural by Nature (carried by Whole Foods), which is fabulous cream, and the wonderful Lewes dairy cream sold at Bowers in Eastern Market. The Lewes cream comes in 6 oz. containers, though, and both kinds are expensive. I don't use a lot of heavy cream, so I'll shell out for it when I really need it for something.

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This blog entry from Cornucopia Institute was just forwarded to me, so I am passing it on to those of you who buy organic milk.

I personally stopped shelling out the extra money for most organic dairy products eons ago, but having picked up Horizon 's heavy cream at Whole Foods yesterday because it was less expensive than the other brands, I found the information illuminating.

A quick google-search indicates that Cornucopia has been after Horizon--more specifically, Dean Foods--for several years, questioning just how apt "organic" is in labeling the products of a large (Pollan fans, heed) agribusiness.

Waitman, ready for another boycott?

I am pretty sure that the NOP regs do not exlcude large agribusiness from producing organic products. I'm not defending Horizon, but I have also been to a small, local, organic dairy farm that sells their milk to Horizon. My understanding from speaking to the farmer was that was the only way to have a profitable business. He was also incapable of producing a sufficient volume of milk to have the economies of scale necessary to process the milk himself and sell it directly to consumers at a price consumers were willing to pay.

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I am pretty sure that the NOP regs do not exlcude large agribusiness from producing organic products. I'm not defending Horizon, but I have also been to a small, local, organic dairy farm that sells their milk to Horizon. My understanding from speaking to the farmer was that was the only way to have a profitable business. He was also incapable of producing a sufficient volume of milk to have the economies of scale necessary to process the milk himself and sell it directly to consumers at a price consumers were willing to pay.
The regs absolutely do not prevent Dean Foods, the owner of Horizon from producing organic foods. Nor do they prevent Earthbound farms from producing bagged salads by the ton which, when contaminated by e coli can sicked thousands and tens of thousands.

That is because they have paid lobyists and political clout which worked to include such practices as allowing recovered sludge containing dangerous levels of heavy metals (defeater by a write and call in campaign sponsored by Whole Foods Market) to be called organic and they put in incredibly weak standards of animal husbandry (that are still in the regs although slightly modified). In the original bill, if grain prices are above a certain point compared to conventional, an organic animal can be fed conventional grain and still be called organic. Cage Free does not mean that animals are not in cages, just that the cages are of a certain size. They do not have actually go outside, but just have an open door that none use.

Thru these measures, Horizon and their ilk are able to have organic in name only products that are industraily produced that damage the environment almost as greatly as conventional industrail outfits. They also get the economic advantages from not being responsible stewards of the environment that give them a price advantage over the producers who follow not the law, but the spirit of organics to include sustainability as their watchword. So of course some of the do gooders sell to Horizon. It's that or go bust. But I bet they do it with clenched teeth.

Just as you can make a wine under US labeling law that says "Napa Valley" and "Cabernet" on the label and none of the wine is actually Napa Valley grown cabernet, you can lable a product organic that makes true believers in the movement shudder. Just because something is legal does not make it right.

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Thru these measures, Horizon and their ilk are able to have organic in name only products that are industraily produced that damage the environment almost as greatly as conventional industrail outfits. They also get the economic advantages from not being responsible stewards of the environment that give them a price advantage over the producers who follow not the law, but the spirit of organics to include sustainability as their watchword. So of course some of the do gooders sell to Horizon. It's that or go bust. But I bet they do it with clenched teeth.
I haven't read up much recently on Organic Valley (other than the link above), but I was sorting through old grocery receipts this morning and noticed that the 1 lb. Horizon 2% cottage cheese cost $3.99 and the Organic Valley (same size, milkfat) purchased a couple of weeks later at the same store cost $4.49.
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Just as you can make a wine under US labeling law that says "Napa Valley" and "Cabernet" on the label and none of the wine is actually Napa Valley grown cabernet, you can lable a product organic that makes true believers in the movement shudder. Just because something is legal does not make it right.
And we all know what wine-producers in Champagne say about American sparkling wines...

What prompted my post a few days ago was not outrage about the use of "organic" to classify dairy products at Horizon, but the pressure the company has been putting on its competitors recently by pricing items too low. Can't imagine what that means about the way Dean Foods pays its suppliers.

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I buy my milk from my organic market. I'll admit, I don't remember the dairy. I love it, but think the significant issue is the SHST pasteurization (I think I have the acronym wrong--it's short time high temperature). [sorry, typing with one hand] The milk is sweet and flavorful (and I buy skim for drinking). Problem is, it goes bad very fast and really needs to be kept refrigerated...
Trickling Springs produces and packages our MOM's brand milk. They deliver 3 times per week. I hear what you're saying about the milk going "bad" fast, and that could be due to the low pasteurization temps/times. However, it seems to happen inconsistently and we have brought it up to Trickling Springs. They have told us that the milk is not actually "bad", but rather some of the farmers who supply their milk to TS have just a few roaming cows and they sometimes get into certain types of grasses that change the flavor of the milk- gives it a bit of an off-taste. I use the milk all the time and have noticed that about 1 in 10 batches, the milk tastes a bit weird- but I don't think it's spoilage because sometimes the milk is very fresh (produced 4-5 days ago) and it doesn't curdle when I use it each morning in my lattes.
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I just started a few weeks ago with South Mountain Creamery, and although they don't claim to be organic their dairy herd is raised hormone free and with only minimal antibiotic use (I assume that to mean only if an animal is sick and not prophylactic use of abs). Also the cows can graze on pasture land or eat in the barn (I guess no take out for them :rolleyes: ). I'm loving the quality of the milk for both its freshness and taste, and the chocolate milk is awesome. Dealing with glass returnable bottles is a small hassle, and having a cooler and coolants sufficient to hold the delivery if I'm not going to be home requires planning and forethought, but all-in-all this is retro kind of fun and I feel good about supporting a local family-owned farm. (They also sell white/brown eggs from their own chickens and a whole range of other products not produced by them -- the yougurt is produced by them and damn good.)

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Trickling Springs. They have told us that the milk is not actually "bad", but rather some of the farmers who supply their milk to TS have just a few roaming cows and they sometimes get into certain types of grasses that change the flavor of the milk- gives it a bit of an off-taste.

I appreciate your response, but I'm pretty sure I know what bad milk tastes like. What I'm describing isn't off from a cow who wandered into a patch of ditchweed--it's gone sour.

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I appreciate your response, but I'm pretty sure I know what bad milk tastes like. What I'm describing isn't off from a cow who wandered into a patch of ditchweed--it's gone sour.
I don't doubt that the milk you had was spoiled. The milk comes in with 15 days until expiration. We have a policy in our stores that it gets pulled 5 days before expiration because we have found that it goes bad before the stamped date. Knowing this, we would rather run out of it than over-stock it, so the dates on our shelves usually have 10-15 days until expiration. The milk is pasteurized at minimum temps, which is what we think leads to its early expiration.
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I know this doesn't help much, but when I was in Ireland last month, I had unpasteurized milk, straight from the farm, for the first time (the milk they commercially sell is lightly pasteurized, but I got to try what the family drinks). Nothing I've ever had compares to this - you can actually taste the grass on which the cows graze.

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I know this doesn't help much, but when I was in Ireland last month, I had unpasteurized milk, straight from the farm, for the first time (the milk they commercially sell is lightly pasteurized, but I got to try what the family drinks). Nothing I've ever had compares to this - you can actually taste the grass on which the cows graze.

I'm envious, of course. Even the commercial dairy products (milk, cream, butter) they serve in Irish airports are, hands down, the most delicious I've ever encountered.

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As of three days ago, my mind started fixating on home milk delivery service. I am not sure why, but I don't really question my brain anymore. Maybe it has to do with little man and making sure he gets good, wholesome calcium that is delicious too. Plus, I am looking for no hormone, no antibiotic (except in emergencies) dairy farms.

The problem is, it's really only dominated by two creameries: South Mountain and Trickling Springs. While I don't really have any beef with them, I am not as much of a fan of their products compared to Clear Springs Creamery. Sadly, Mark and Clare don't deliver (I can't imagine why, it would take a lot of startup costs, I would think), and I can't always get to the farmers' market.

So, here is a list of store-available dairies that I have come across in Northern Virginia. I was wondering if you all could give me an opinion on your favorite.

  1. Homestead Creamery (WF carries them. In glass bottles. $2 deposit)
  2. Horizon (Not really a fan)
  3. South Mountain Creamery (Glass. Home delivery and Local Market - Falls Church)
  4. Organic Valley
  5. Promised Land Dairy (High-end product of Borden Dairy. Bought at HT, but don't know much about them, other than they fit my criteria of no hormones, no antibiotics.)
  6. Trader Joe's Organic (This is what I currently buy.)
  7. Trickling Springs (Glass. Home delivery through Washington Green Grocer & Arganica and at Northside Social or Local Market - Falls Church

Thanks for your help.

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  1. Homestead Creamery (WF carries them. In glass bottles. $2 deposit)
  2. Horizon (Not really a fan)
  3. South Mountain Creamery (Glass. Home delivery and Local Market - Falls Church)
  4. Organic Valley
  5. Promised Land Dairy (High-end product of Borden Dairy. Bought at HT, but don't know much about them, other than they fit my criteria of no hormones, no antibiotics.)
  6. Trader Joe's Organic (This is what I currently buy.)
  7. Trickling Springs (Glass. Home delivery through Washington Green Grocer & Arganica and at Northside Social or Local Market - Falls Church

Organic Valley has a decent flavor, is consistent, and the product stays fresh-tasting for a decent amount of time, but is otherwise unremarkable. I think Homestead is a notch above that. I agree with you about Horizon. Of those you listed Trickling Springs is my favorite; I haven't had any consistency issues with it, but I don't buy it too often. I tried South Mountain about a month ago, and with the first sip I thought it had some pasture funk - and not in a good way. I thought it would make an interesting cheese but didn't like it so much for drinking. That was a single sample though. And agreed, Clear Spring is the best. If they did home delivery I'd sign up faster than you could say "milk that cow".

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I like Trickling Springs the best. I've done home delivery with South Mountain Creamery (both 2% and whole) and had no problem with the flavor. I think I like Trickling Springs more, though.

I try to avoid Horizon based on business practices and opt for Organic Valley instead when those are my main options. I don't have strong feelings about specific OV products based on taste, except for their cottage cheese, which I adore :wub: .

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a. I just noticed that SMC was out of order, alphabetically - sorry; b. Upon rereading, I wanted to clarify that I meant that I would like to hear your favorite that is on or not on my list; and c. I omitted listing Maple Avenue Market out in Vienna as a vendor for TS products as well. Thanks again! :-D

**I wonder if some of us go together to pitch the idea to Mark & Clare maybe we can start our own Clear Springs delivery service. :-)

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Tricking Springs now has a new brand name: Farm Friends, on their all natural milk, plastic bottle milk that we use. I don't know what is being called Tricking Springs any more.

As for Horizon, I would just byy conventional before buying Horizon. It is factory farmed so why pay more for "organic in name only" Organic Valley is more true to the organic spirit, but they over expanded and then cut contracts to farms, causing a lot of pain among farms that got certified to meet their expansion plans.

TJ's and Whole Foods private label milks are bought on the spot market, probably from Horizon or OV and may not have a lot of consistency. THere is certainly no transparency in their sourcing. Again, I do not see the point of paying the premuim.

Chrome isn't organic but is excellent. Natural by Nature is organic {I think} and also good. TSC is my favorite.

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I buy Snowville (not organic but grass fed and after talking to them I think they are as good as organic but without the certification) at WF. I buy the Whole Milk, non-homogonized.

If that isn't available I go with Natural by Nature Whole Milk (organic and grass fed but homoginized) which I can find at WF or My Organic Market.

We've gotten the grass fed Common Market milk before and that is pretty good as well. Roots and My Organic Market milk isn't a big hit at our house.

I haven't much liked the taste of South Mountain.

The glass bottles from Homestead, Trickling, etc., don't work at our house and I don't know if they are grass fed or not.

In an ideal world, I would buy my milk from Clear Spring Creamery. But at $12 a gallon, I'd be spending $24 a week on milk. I just can't afford that.

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Most of the time I buy Dairy Maid from the co-op near my house; it comes from a Frederick-area cooperative (farms in Maryland and Virginia). It doesn't have a remarkable taste, but it's good and it's local. (Doesn't help with the delivery thing but I thought it worth a mention.)

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I've had a great experience with SMC. We ve been getting home delivery for about a year. Never an off taste from whatnI can detect. Skim for cereal tastes like 2%, and whole cream top for cooking is unreal. The cream is fantastic too.

That said, I haven't yet had clear spring. I'd be eager to try their milk. They're at the FC market and DuPont, correct?

While I'm at it, I'd be curious to put up SMCs cream against Lewis dairy. Worth the special trip to Balduccis if I'm making stracciatella or something else where cream is prominent?

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That said, I haven't yet had clear spring. I'd be eager to try their milk. They're at the FC market and DuPont, correct?

They are back at Dupont after a winter hiatus. The come to Arlington Courthouse on Saturdays (not sure if they are back there for the season yet) and I think they are at Takoma Park on Sunday, when that market gets going again. Why not check their website to find out?
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A small update: Further research shows that SMC's cousin started Holy Cow delivery service and that DE residents have complained since Lewes Dairy is being bought out/merging with another company that has made their milk quality gone down.

Clear Springs is not back yet at FC since it is still winter market until April, but hopefully that means next weekend, since Saturday is the last day of March.

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A small update: Further research shows that SMC's cousin started Holy Cow delivery service and that DE residents have complained since Lewes Dairy is being bought out/merging with another company that has made their milk quality gone down.

Clear Springs is not back yet at FC since it is still winter market until April, but hopefully that means next weekend, since Saturday is the last day of March.

http://www.wboc.com/story/15677023/lewes-dairy

I have not used their heavy cream since the date of this story so I do not have a personal opinion. Everything that I could find on the internet talks about the "fear" of their quality going down along with their no longer making egg nog. I could not find any current comments, after the merger, of their quality.

Has anyone used Lewes Dairy heavy cream lately to have an opinion on their quality?

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http://www.wboc.com/...023/lewes-dairy

I have not used their heavy cream since the date of this story so I do not have a personal opinion. Everything that I could find on the internet talks about the "fear" of their quality going down along with their no longer making egg nog. I could not find any current comments, after the merger, of their quality.

Has anyone used Lewes Dairy heavy cream lately to have an opinion on their quality?

I haven't used it recently but I sometimes run into the owner of the stand in Eastern Market that carries their cream, and I can ask him if he knows anything. I know that he personally drives out to Lewes to pick up the cream, so I can't imagine he'd continue to do that if the quality has declined a lot.

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I had Clear Spring* heavy cream and whole milk on hand, and yesterday was able to find Lewes Dairy heavy cream (but not milk), and Trickling Springs* whole milk (but not cream). So last night I whipped up the two creams. Both took about two and a half minutes to whip by hand to the soft peak stage (yes, I timed it, I'm a geek). The Lewes Dairy cream was milk white while Clear Spring was distinctly yellow. Lewes Dairy had a pure sweet milk flavor while Clear Spring was just a tad...not quite savory, but not as sweet, and distinctly buttery. Mr. P came to the same conclusion. This was actually a blind test: I closed my eyes and didn't know which one I was tasting. Clear Sping whipped cream was a little foamier.

Later I tasted the milks side by side. Trickling Springs, like Lewes Dairy, was milk white, sweet, and mild, while Clear Spring was distinctly yellow, and again with a little tang, and also felt distinctly fattier (and I shook both up before pouring).

This morning I put TS in my coffee, and I prefer it to CS, which is fatty enough that little droplets of fat come to the surface of the drink. But that is the only application for which I think one is better than the other.

For both cream and milk my conclusion is that I would be damn happy to use any of these products. The differences are just too slight to be of importance. But just to be sure, tomorrow night I will make some ice cream with each and do another comparison.

*sorry to be pedantic, but it makes me crazy when people get names wrong: Clear Spring (singular), Trickling Springs (plural).

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Porcupine, I am sitting on my deck, typing on my laptop and sipping on a glass of wine as I read your post. There should be more research like your's!!!! Really, really enjoyed it.

It's actually because of ice cream that I rave about Lewe's Dairy. I've tried a lot over the years finally settling on Lewes. Would love to hear how your's turned out.

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So I made two batches of meyer lemon ice cream last night, controlling variables as much as reasonably possible. The Clear Spring ice cream was a little fattier, and not in a good way. It had the kind of buttery chew that I used to find in Moorenko's ice crea, which I don't like but others seem to adore for the high fat content. It was also a tiny bit lumpy, almost as if the churning had caused a little butter to form, but I have no real explanation for that. The Lewes Dairy ice cream was awesome. But really, the differences were tiny, and probably only noticeable because I was trying hard to determine them.

Overall conclusion, considering both milk and cream: Lewes Dairy and Trickling Springs are a little milder than Clear Spring, which has a bit more character, which may or may not be desireable, but ultimately I would not go out of my way to find any one these if one of the other were at hand. But all three clearly superior to Organic Valley, Horizon, and Dairy Maid.

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Sometimes I miss working in a lab.

Anyway, I also picked up some Clear Spring Creamery butter. Just from trying to cut through it I suspect a super-high fat content. Made some excellent cookies with it. Now I feel another pastry bender coming on; can't wait to make pâte brisée and croissants with it. Maybe I need to start a butter thread.

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Sometimes I miss working in a lab.

Anyway, I also picked up some Clear Spring Creamery butter. Just from trying to cut through it I suspect a super-high fat content. Made some excellent cookies with it. Now I feel another pastry bender coming on; can't wait to make pâte brisée and croissants with it. Maybe I need to start a butter thread.

How was the salt level in the Clear Spring butter? When Claire first started making it, I bought some and thought it was way too salty. I did mention that to them, but haven't bought any since.
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Reviving this thread with a pretty intense first world problem. I have been purchasing Trickling Springs whole milk in glass bottles and very recently have noticed that their whole milk doesn't hold a foam. Knowing milk foams are a function of isoelectric point and protein content my first thought was perhaps my Nespresso Aeroccino was not perfectly clean. But then I cleaned it and nothing changed. Then I bought Homestead Creamery whole milk in a glass bottle and it foams beautifully. Thus, there is a milk issue with Trickling Springs. I dug out my undergrad food science text books and my running hypotheses are that either  (if I am inclined to be charitable) this is seasonal variation in fat to protein ratio or (my less charitable interpretations) there is a processing issue at the creamery where they are actually adding more fat than is labeled or the milk is mis-handled and there is sunlight degrading proteins through the glass.

Has anyone else had issues with Trickling Springs?

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