Newsflash: camel’s milk is really, really good for you. While that’s something nomadic people have known for centuries, here in the States it’s something we’re just finding out for ourselves. With three times more vitamin C and ten times more iron than cow’s milk, camel’s milk is slightly salty, highly nutritious, and may be on track to experience a bonafide boom in the near future, thanks to consumers’ growing interest in alternatives to traditional cow’s milk.
One hurdle that camel farmers will have to overcome is convincing consumers that their milk is worth the high price (California-based Desert Farms sells their fresh camel’s milk for $18 a pint!). As this Modern Farmer article explains, camels yield less milk than their cow counterparts, making what is collected a true treasure.
Unlike cows, which can be separated from calves immediately after birth and keep producing milk, camels must be encouraged by their babies to “let down” their milk. When a calf nuzzles its mother’s udder, the release of oxytocin in the mother’s brain triggers muscle contractions, which causes the milk to drop…The milk is available for just 90 seconds at a time. When the Rieglers see one of the mothers is ready to give milk, they’ll offer both mother and baby high-protein grain and hay while they double up, using all four hands to milk the four teats as quickly as possible.
This means that while their milk can be difficult to come by, what you are left with is a nutritional powerhouse, one that’s been said to closely mimic human breast milk.
So if the milk is so scarce, how is it possible to make cheese with it? The Global Cheese Awards have announced a partnership with England’s Godminster Dairy and Dubai-based Camelicious (who will be supplying the milk) to premiere a new camel’s milk cheese at this year’s awards, happening September 12th and 13th. Godminster’s general manager says “It might be completely revolting or it could be completely delicious—we just won’t know until we try it.” Here’s hoping it falls into the “completely delicious” category.