Low-temp pasteurization preserves flavor and beneficial enzymes in the milk at Mill-King


Much of the milk and cream that Kathleen uses in her frozen custard comes from Mill-King Market & Creamery, which is located just to the west of Waco, Texas. Craig Miller is a third-generation farmer who raises Jersey, Holstein and Brown Swiss cows, blending the milk from all three to create a creamy texture and fresh flavor that Kathleen says tastes just like the milk she enjoyed as a kid on her family ranch when her grandfather would offer her a taste fresh from the milking barn.

When Craig and his wife, Rhianna, realized that her dairy allergy wasn’t triggered by raw milk, they switched to producing raw milk along with low-temp pasteurized, non-homogenized milk and cream. By utilizing a low-temp pasteurization method, they retain the beneficial enzymes present in the milk, while killing harmful bacteria. What’s also retained is flavor.

Also of note is that the Kings used to sell their milk to the local diary co-op, which is true for most dairy farmers. By selling to a co-op, though, farmers don’t have any control over the price they receive for their products. Dairy prices — like those for hogs, cattle, orange juice and soybeans — are set on the commodity market. That means that the price can be high one month and low the next.

Many small dairy farmers, like the Millers, are choosing to pull out of the commodity market and instead create their own labels, selling directly to consumers, stores, chefs and makers like Kathleen. This gives them control over their pricing and allows them to build a brand, requiring the farmers to not only produce an incredible product, but also know how to market that product. Adding a “value-added product” to their offerings by turning milk into cheese, for example, creates further opportunities for dairies to build their businesses and look toward passing the farm on to the next generation.