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Fresh at the markets: Spring milk

Eat | Drink | Explore

Locally produced milk is at its best right now, and the taste can be enjoyed in simple dishes such as this home-made custard recipe.

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Spring milk is well known for being rich and creamy due to the lush pastures the cows feed on at this time of year. It is also the season when many cows are calving and produce an abundance of milk.

As a result, spring milk is high in protein and butterfat, and the plentiful supply pushes dairy farmers and cheese makers to keep up with production.

Alexandrina Cheese Company is a family dairy on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The McCaul family run a herd of around 50 Jersey cows to produce milk and cheese at their Mt Jagged farm, near Mount Compass. During spring, the milk is pumped straight into the cheese vat. The McCaul family split the calving season, with half the herd calving in autumn and the other half calving in spring to ensure good-quality milk enters the factory all year round.

Farm manager Dan McCaul says the reason their unhomogenised Jersey milk is so good is that it contains large globules of fat which improve its feel in the mouth and also aid digestion. Homogenisation breaks down the fat globules.

Alexandrina Cheese Company’s Full Cream Pure Jersey Milk and Skim Jersey Milk recently won gold medals at the 2016 SA Dairy Awards.

Fleurieu Milk Company also sells Jersey Premium Unhomogenised Milk, and it has just won a gold medal in the dairy category at the 2016 Delicious Produce Awards. The Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market was voted Australia’s most outstanding famers’ market at the same awards.

You can find fresh, locally-produced milk at the Adelaide Showground and Willunga Farmers’ Markets at the Alexandrina Cheese, B.-d Farm Paris Creek and Fleurieu Milk stalls.

The Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market is open on Sundays from 9am to 1pm at the Adelaide Showground, Leader Street, Wayville. Willunga Farmers’ Market open on Saturdays from 8am to 12.30pm. Also open on Saturday mornings is the Gawler Farmers’ Market from 8am to noon at the Gawler Visitor Information Centre, 2 Lyndoch Road, Gawler.

Lyndall Vandenberg, marketing and communications coordinator for the Willunga Farmers’ Market, has shared her great-grandmother Alice’s recipe for custard, which she says is all the more delicious when made with fresh spring milk.

“This is one of those cherished recipes that has been passed from generation to generation, adapted here and there, depending on the cook and the era,” she says. “As children, this was my brother’s and my favourite treat and still is today. My great-grandmother served it simply with stewed apples.

“Nanna, who is now 90 years young, still produces it each Christmas, loaded with brandy, to serve with steamed pudding. Mum added banana to it, and now I like to use a vanilla bean and unfiltered honey to sweeten.”

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Alice’s custard. Photo: supplied

Alice’s Custard

Ingredients

1 litre full-cream milk
3 eggs
2/3 – 3/4 cup runny honey, depending on variety and preference
3 tablespoons flour
75g butter
1 vanilla bean, scraped

Method

In a large heavy-based saucepan gently melt the butter. Add the flour, then whisk for a minute over low heat.

In a bowl, whisk eggs with the honey then add the vanilla pod and vanilla beans and set aside.

Turn up the heat to medium/high then gradually add the milk in stages, whisking continuously and adding more milk as the custard thickens.

When half of the milk has been used, add a ladle full of the custard mixture into the eggs and stir. This will gently warm the eggs and prevent them from curdling.

Pour the egg mixture into the custard, continue to whisk, then add the remaining milk gradually.

When cooked, the custard should coat the back of a spoon and the body should have a thickish consistency. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

Remove the vanilla pod before serving.

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