June is National Dairy Month. Dairy products are those made of mammal’s milk.
While cow’s milk is most popular in the U.S., we also consume goat’s, sheep’s and water buffalo’s milk, both as a drink and made into cheese, yogurt and other products.
In some countries, still other animals are milked for drinking, cooking, butter- and cheese-making:
Camel’s milk (Middle East and Horn of Africa)
Mare’s milk (Mongolia and Central Asia)
Yak’s milk (Nepal and Tibet)
Reindeer’s milk (Lapland and Norway)
Then there’s the unusual and one-off production of sow’s milk cheese, made by a pig farmer in The Netherlands.
He auctioned it for charity. The hammer price was 1,500 euros per kilo, making it by far the most expensive cheese ever sold worldwide.
Given the ordeal to make it, we are unlikely to see too much more of it.
Here’s more about it, and the other unusual [to us] milks.
WORLDWIDE, GOAT’S MILK IS #1
Goat’s milk is the number-one consumed milk in the world. More than 65% of the world’s population drinks it instead of cow’s milk. That’s because it’s easy to keep a goat.
One goat can produce an average of a gallon and a half of milk a day, more than enough for a single family.
Whether one goat or a herd, goats take up less space and need less feed than a dairy cow.
Goat milk is less likely to cause lactose intolerance (it contains fewer lactose molecules), and is thys easier to digest than cow’s milk.
Because it contains less fat, it’s naturally homogenized and doesn’t separate like cow’s milk will.
And, they’re much more affordable to purchase [source].
By the way, if you’re a fan of goat cheese, try goat milk and goat butter. It’s the same flavor in a different format.
USES FOR DAIRY
Liquid milk, a popular beverage, is also used to make butter, cheese and cream (which in turn becomes custard, dulce de leche, ice cream, and so forth).
Liquid milk is preserved into evaporated milk, condensed milk, powdered milk and whey protein.
Liquid milk is fermented into cultured buttermilk, kefir, sour cream and yogurt.
THE MOST CONSUMED DAIRY PRODUCTS IN THE U.S.*
While we called these the most “popular” dairy products in the headline, it’s more precise to call them the most consumed dairy products.
Few will be surprised by this ranking, which is shown in pounds per capita.
Fluid milk and cream, the largest category, includes milk of all fat percentages, plus buttermilk, cream, eggnog, frozen yogurt, ice cream, milk sherbet, sour cream.
Here is consumption per capita:
Fluid milk and cream 203.65 pounds/capita
Cheese 33.21 pounds/capita
Frozen dairy products 21.17 pounds/capita
Evaporated and condensed milk 7.03 pounds/capita
Butter 4.87 pounds/capita
Dried dairy products (not whey) 3.72 pounds/capita
Cottage cheese 2.33 pounds/capita
Dried whey 1.29 pounds/capita
COW’S MILK PRODUCING COUNTRIES
In its natural (raw) state, cow’s milk is more than 87% water. The remainder consists of butterfat, whey and casein proteins, lactose (milk carbohydrates/sugars), and ash (vitamins and minerals).
The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of cow’s milk. The countries producing the largest amount of cow’s milk, in metric tonnes:
- 1 United States 91.3 metric tonnes†
- 2 India 60.6 metric tonnes
- 3 China 35.7 metric tonnes
- 4 Brazil 34.3 metric tonnes
- 5 Germany 31.1 metric tonnes
- 6 Russia 30.3 metric tonnes
- 7 France 23.7 metric tonnes
- 8 New Zealand 18.9 metric tonnes
- 9 Turkey 16.7
- 10 United Kingdom 13.9
*Data are for the year 2010 and are taken from the USDA ERS Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System and the Agricultural Research Service National Agricultural Library.
†Ton and tonne are not the same measurement. A ton is a measurement used in the U.S. (i.e., an imperial measurement, along inch, foot and mile) (still widely used in the USA); a tonne is a metric measurement (along with centimeter, kilo and kilometer).
> A ton is 2,000 pounds.
> A tonne, also called a megagram, is one million grams or 1,000 kilograms.
Here’s more about them.
 Thanks for the milk! The black-and-white Holstein is the iconic dairy cow (photo © Jean Carlo Emer | Unsplash).
 Thanks for the milk! East Friesian sheep, originally bred in the East Frisia region of northern Germany, are one of the best for sheep dairying (photo © Bellwether Farms).
 Thanks for the milk! The La Mancha goat is a “good milker” (photo © Mirciov Dan | Unsplash).
 Thanks for the milk! In the U.S., it’s most often found in bufala mozzarella cheese (photo © Alex Azabache | Unsplash).
 A refreshing glass of full-fat cow’s milk (photo © Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board).