The Farm to Cafeteria Network and the Madison Jefferson County Extension office collaborated to host a food-friendly educational event at the Whitehall Community Library for its children. Of all the exciting local food topics and ingredients at our disposal to explore, we decided to let the Montana Harvest of the Month Program narrow our field of vision down to its July food item: Dairy!
Our afternoon began auspiciously with blue skies and sunshine, the perfect weather for spending quality time with Pearl, the goat, and Cupcake, the Jersey cow. The fifty kids who attended the event learned about animal etiquette, the process of making cheese from goat’s milk, and the uniquely rich and creamy qualities of Jersey cow milk, which contains higher levels of butterfat than the most commonly known Holstein dairy cow breed. Did you know that in 2015, Montana was home to approximately 13,000 dairy cows on nearly 65 dairy farms? A farm in Montana usually has about 210 cows in their herd.
These fun facts were taken with us indoors, where we settled down from the excitement of farm animals with the help of a spell-binding video featuring farm to fridge, which transported us through the stages of milking, pasteurization, quality testing, and packaging – all to the soothing classical tune of “The Thieving Magpie.”
Of course no food-focused extravaganza would be complete without a taste test. And not only did we taste Montana-raised butter, we made it ourselves by shaking rich Montana cream in mason jars. The shaking allows the particles of fat in the cream to bump into and stick to each other. About five minutes in, the consistency of the jar’s contents resembled that of whipped cream. About seven minutes in, the butter had separated completely from the cloudy buttermilk into a hard and delectable yellow ball. As for taste? As one of our young dairy-lovers put it: “it tastes like real butter because it is real butter!”