BY WENDY ELLIOTT
Kings County Advertiser/Register
Port Williams dairy farmer Rick Rand is now selling non-homogenized milk - in a glass bottle.
Interest in the fresh product in the old-fashioned container is keen.
Daughter Melissa, cheese maker at Fox Hill Cheese House, says the family operation bottled its first batch Feb. 9. They thought it might last week, but they sold out quickly at the Seaport Market in Halifax. Three batches were needed to supply consumer interest that first week.
Ramping up for milk sales required an investment in a new building, with bottling equipment, adjacent to the cheese house. The only milk product they plan to sell is whole milk. While Fox Hill milk is not certified organic, she notes, they pride themselves on producing milk as naturally as possible. Dairy regulations also have zero tolerance for antibiotics or growth hormones in milk. To ensure a safe product, the Rands bottle their milk at 4°C under sanitary conditions. The milk is pasteurized, boiling away any pathogens because of the risk of Listeria and E. coli. The Rands use a batch technique, heating the milk to 145 degrees, maintaining the temperature for half an hour, then cooling it down. Homogenization breaks the fat globules in milk into smaller sizes, which makes milk more uniform in consistency and appearance. Each bottle is sealed with a bright red tamper-evident cap and labeled with a best before date, according to federal regulation. Better yet, customers will see the milk’ actual cream rise to the top of every bottle.
The Rands’ dairy herd consists of about 50 cows, Holsteins and Jerseys. While the Jerseys produce less milk, their milk has more fat and protein.
The milk itself sells for $3 per litre; the bottles are $2.25 plus tax: the Rands sell the milk and bottle separately so the bottles can be exchanged.
Fox Hill milk in one-litre bottles is available at the cheese house on Lower Church St. in Port Williams and at the market in Halifax. Co-owner Jeanita Rand says, once the new farmers’ market is open in Wolfville, they will be able to sell milk there.
It was almost six years ago the Rands started making cheese to improve their farm’s bottom line. They began with nine types of cheese; today, they make over 20 varieties, more than a dozen flavours of gelato, vanilla and natural yogurt.