Review: Kalona Super Natural Organic Whole Milk is Best
Ah, delicious cow’s milk. There’s nothing better than a glass of milk with breakfast or with warm and gooey chocolate chip cookies! I grew up with the stuff, and it has remained my constant favorite drink all of these years. But as my waistline grew with age, I scaled back from 2%, to 1%, to skim, which I drank for years while still finding it a wonderful gift from the bovine gods. But about a year ago, a good friend pointed out that there is only a 20 calorie difference between skim and 1%. I have blissfully “free-ranged about” with 1% fat ever since.
But very recently, something amazing entered my life which has forever changed how I see milk. It was sudden and completely unexpected. It was the magic of Kalona Super Natural Organic Non-Homogenized Milk.
I found this magic nectar while I was meandering about at Whole Foods Market, taking pictures for an upcoming blog review and grabbing a couple of items for a special dinner in with my wife. I had no intentions of buying milk or breaking out of my 1% norm. But as I was taking pictures of the milk section, mocking the ridiculousness of $8 per gallon milk, something struck me that I could not ignore, “Why is this milk $8 a gallon?” I mean, seriously. What in the crap could make this stuff worth paying 4 times as much as my beloved 1% milk at standard grocery stores? I just stood there, mesmerized by all of the white liquid gold before me, reading the labels and marketing hype of each brand. 1%, 2%, whole, it was all the same. But then I started reading some new labels; “non-homogenized whole milk,” and another saying “cream on top.” What the hell? I knew this was something I had to try. So I dutifully compared each brand and label to choose the best. Kalona Super Natural looked and sounded the best, so I tossed a half gallon in my cart and left the store.
There was close to 2-inches of yellowish cream on top of the milk, so when I got home, I shook the hell out of the bottle, twisted off the lid, and poured some into a glass. It was so creamy! It was thicker than I was used to, and had a deeper color than typical milk. I raised the glass and inhaled the bouquet. It smelled of grass, cows, and milk. It definitely had a stronger aroma than standard milk. I started salivating and feeling anxious, so I tipped the glass into my mouth.
My first reaction was that it tasted just like powdered milk! I hate powdered milk. But that taste was promptly replaced by an extremely full-bodied milk. I could literally taste grass, as well as a dairy farm. Yes, a dairy farm with poop in the air smell. I know that sounds disgusting, but it was AMAZING! It wasn’t actually the taste/smell of poop, but rather the distinct essence of dairy. When I drank this milk, I could literally taste the dairy farm. I don’t mean one of those filthy feed lots where the cows are standing in shit 24×7, but rather a green-pasture dairy ranch. Picture the farms surrounding Tillamook, Oregon. There’s green grass, the scent of wild flowers, a dampness from a light rain, birds singing, the excitement of going to the cheese factory, and the underlying aroma of cows. Cow crap stinks, but combined with all the other country joys, it kind of melds into something not that bad. That’s what drinking this milk makes me think of. But the actual flavor was very rich and strong tasting milk that had a bit of gaminess; a distinct bovine essence. It’s similar to the taste found in a strong farmhouse bleu cheese. That flavor that isn’t really earthy, not quite nutty, not really gamey, but definitely bovine. Does that make sense? Do you know what I’m referring to? It’s hard to describe, but this milk was riddled with it. It was kind of like milk and cheese got together and had a baby. As I swirled this decadence around in my mouth, I was instantly taken back to the farm where I milked a cow myself, squiring milk straight from the teats and into a metal bucket. This was real milk, the real deal, and it was AWESOME! I couldn’t believe what I was tasting. I savored each mouthful, emptied my glass, and then poured another. This was the best milk from a store that I had ever tasted. Suddenly $8 per gallon seemed like a bargain, and I knew I could never go back to enjoying my cheap 1% milk again.
But whole milk over 1% milk? Isn’t that bad for you? Well, as you can clearly see from the picture above, there is only a 40 calorie difference per cup between the two. There is actually less sodium and carbs in Kalona’s whole milk, but of course, is 3 times as much fat and cholesterol. But here’s something very interesting that I found; with my cheap 1% milk, I always poured a full 2-cup glass, and often poured another half-glass more. I needed this much to feel satisfied. But with Kalona’s Super Natural, I found that I only needed a single cup to feel satisfied. A half-glass versus a full-glass or more. That’s a big difference. So with Kalona, I’m drinking only 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 30mg of cholesterol, and 11g of carbs. But with cheap 1%, I was drinking 330 calories, 7.5 grams of fat, 30mg of cholesterol, and 39g of carbs. Wow! Better health, better quality, in a significantly better more natural product with a vastly better taste? Kalona is the milk for me!
Kalona is able to provide this exquisite experience due to a couple of factors. First, they source their organic milk from small Amish and Mennonite farms in Iowa. The folks at Kalona personally know these farmers and their families. They visit their pasture-farms, and say hi to them when in town. It’s a small community, providing farm to table products, just like it used to be 100-years ago. These small family farms have small herds of pasture grass-fed cows. That’s where the grass flavor and aroma comes from in the milk.
Second, the raw milk is delivered to Kalona 6 days a week and is then gently processed. This gentle processing is what really makes Kalona different. It is non-homogenized, meaning that the cream and milk are left separated. Natural milk doesn’t have the cream blended throughout the milk. This industrialized blending process didn’t come about until the early 20th century, and was introduced only as a way to mix hundreds of gallons of milk at a time and produce a single consistent product. By taking a percentage of the cream out first, milk retailers were able to sell 2%, 1%, and fat free milk. It was a marketing ploy that just so happened to help destroy the flavor of milk. Homogenization shoots milk (and cream) through tiny little nozzles at high pressure. This process actually changes the molecular process of the milk and binds the cream to the milk, thus creating a homogenized state. It also destroys some of the natural sweetness of milk that the “free” cream provides, as well as the silky smooth texture the cream adds. Another thing, it actually removes some of the natural vitamins found in the “free” cream, which is why homogenized milk is vitamin fortified. But consumers originally didn’t want to buy it because the sign of a high quality milk was a thick layer of cream on top. But after World War II, milk was sold in opaque milk cartons in super markets, and people stopped caring or were “tricked” into buying this new homogenized milk. The cream was reserved for cream-based products, and then sold to consumers at a premium. What a scam.
Third, Kalona uses old-school low temperature pasteurization. Pasteurization is a legal requirement for retail milk distribution. Most of today’s mass pasteurization is done at very high temperatures (280° for 2 seconds). The milk is forced between metal plates or hot pipes to achieve these temperatures. This kills off harmful bacteria and pathogens, and gives the milk a refrigerated shelf life of up to 3 months. Yesterday’s standard pasteurization held the milk at 161º for 15 seconds. But Kalona uses the original batch, or vat, pasteurization process. This is how all milk was originally pasteurized, and is what a home farmer would use for his family’s safety. With batch pasteurization, the milk is heated slowly to 145ºF, and is held there for 30 minutes. It is then cooled in the same vat it was heated in, and then pumped out of the vat for bottling. This low temperature batch pasteurization destroys any dangerous pathogens in the milk, but not the helpful bacteria our bodies need for digestion aid and such. It also preserves the fabulous fresh flavor of milk, which is where Kalona gets that dairy farm smell flavor from.
I do not know of any other milk on the market that can compete with Kalona on taste and quality. And believe me, I’ve tasted every other available product in my area to find out.
Kalona Super Natural Milk Compared to Other Organic Milks
I just had to know how Kalona compared to all the other expensive milks. So I sourced a couple of the local Idaho organic milks to see if they were as good. As a matter of comparison, I also purchased several “cheap” milks in 2% and whole. The cheap milk’s really weren’t much better than my 1% baseline standard. They just left more fat on the tongue, but really didn’t add any more flavor. In my comparisons, I did not purchase the other organic milks at Whole Foods because none of them were non-homogenized. I couldn’t see the point in buying $6-8 gallons if they were homogenized.
Boise Milk Whole Non-Homogenized Organic Milk Review
Boise Milk was my #2 choice after Kalona. It is only available via home delivery service, which is a big advantage over Kalona because I don’t have to drive to Whole Foods to get it. It is also sourced from local Idaho small farms. This is kind of the same concept as Kalona, and it has much of the same characteristics. It is missing the clean grass flavor Kalona brings, but has the dairy farm poop smell flavor that is so very exquisite in real milk, though not as strong as Kalona. There is a great feel on the tongue from Boise milk. It is silky, smooth, rich, and very satisfying. And at just under $6 per gallon (plus a $1.75 per week delivery charge), it is a good value. And just like Kalona, the cows are never fed hormones or antibiotics. Boise Milk has an advantage over Kalona, in that the milk is delivered with a few hours of coming out of the cow. It is an exceptional milk, and is a very close 2nd to Kalona.
Cloverleaf Creamery Whole Non-Homogenized Organic Milk Review
Another local Idaho brand that is very high quality is Cloverleaf Creamery. All of their milk comes from their small herd of cows in Buhl, Idaho, and is vat pasteurized and bottled onsite. Cloverleaf is distributed to specialty stores in Boise, like Whole Foods, Rosauers, Boise Co-Op, and M&M Market. That makes it convenient to source as you’re out and about. The glass bottles are cool, but you need to return them to get your deposit back. As for taste, you can tell that you’re drinking a higher quality and better for you milk than regular store-bought milk. However, I was disappointed by the distinct lack of dairy poop smell flavor and green grass flavor found in Kalona. Cloverleaf is good, but not as good as Kalona or Boise Milk. I would definitely purchase it over regular supermarket milk, but given the choice, I would always choose Boise Milk or Kalona over it. They are just so much better. But I love the small local dairy concept and find myself wanting to support them. Here’s a great article about them: Cloverleaf Creamery Commodity.
Kalona Super Natural Organic Whole Milk is the Best Milk on the Market
So there you have it. Kalona is the #1 winner in the world of high-quality and high-priced milk. It changed my life forever. I’m grateful for that, but then again, it is a bit of curse because whenever I have a glass of supermarket 1% milk, I turn my nose at it and curse the filthy lack of flavor cheap 1% milk brings. I think that curse just might me worth it though.
The Bald Gourmet discovers Kalona Natural Organic Whole Milk and is forever changed by it.
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