Sheep’s milk is both nutritious and delicious. The milk has a rich, bland, slightly sweet taste. It is much higher in total solids than either cow or goat milk and contains up to twice as many of the minerals like calcium, phosphorus and zinc and the all important B group Vitamins.
Sheep’s milk is sold both fresh and frozen in pint or 500 ml. packs and keeps well for at least 4 months in a deep freeze.
Allergic to cow’s or goat’s milk? Unless you are lactose intolerant sheep milk is the ideal alternative. Such allergies cause a wide range of often undiagnosed problems. Being told to come off ‘Dairy Products’ usually only means cow milk products, and not sheep or goats. Calcium deficiency can occur if all milk products are eliminated from the diet.
Can’t eat cheese? Try genuine sheep milk cheese. Many people are able to enjoy the delights of eating cheese after years of privation.
Can’t sleep? A cup of hot sheep milk before retiring aids a peaceful nights rest. This has been shown to be particularly beneficial for children and elderly people with a bed-wetting problem.
Asthma, eczema and skin problem sufferers: books written for the Asthma Research Council and the National Eczema Society recommend a change to sheep and goat products to aid the treatment of these and other related problems. Sheep milk is especially good as it is high in both calcium and zinc.For more information about dairy product allergies see the Sheep Dairy News article ‘Alleviating the Allergies’ (From Sheep Dairy News, Vol. 18, No. 3).
Your pets: valuable pedigree puppies have been successfully reared on sheep milk, it being the nearest alternative to that of the bitch herself. Cats love it!
Sheep milk appears naturally homogenised with a high protein content and easily digested fat. It makes an ideal substitute for light cream in recipes, particularly sauces, baked or caramel custards and other puddings. It is important never to boil the milk unless fortified or it will become like “egg custard”. A good tip is to heat the milk in a microwave oven. Delicious over cornflakes, porridge or in coffee, it is the perfect alternative milk for people who are not allowed “dairy products” usually only meaning no cow milk products.
The yogurt is naturally thick and can vary between being very bland to quite acid according to the recipe and starter culture used. British Sheep Yogurts contain no additives nor stabilisers and unless stated clearly on the label are guaranteed to be unadulterated by other milks. Yogurt can be used extensively in cooking either as a low fat substitute for cream or sour cream or quark or as a base for many famous Continental recipes. When used in cooking it always needs fortifying with a little flour or similar. Added to sauces it makes them very tasty and interesting and ideal with add grated sheep cheese.
Sheep cheeses come in a wide variety as the milk by itself is bland and can be adapted to many recipes. The harder cheeses also grate well as they get older. The soft cheeses are delicious spread on crusty bread, sweet Digestive biscuits or Water biscuits. There are also Blue cheeses not unlike the famous Roquefort, mould ripened cheeses like Brie, but even more delicious and Fromage Frais ideal with fresh fruit or in a wide range of cooking. After cheese making Ricotta is often made from the whey proteins, this delightful light textured, low fat, pure protein food is highly prized all over the Mediterranean in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Sheep milk products are the perfect alternative for people who are allergic to cow or goat milk. They are very healthy with high, easily absorbed calcium and zinc with a Calcium/Phosphorus ratio that is ideal for human health and well being.
The calcium and minerals like zinc. These are high in sheep milk compared with other milks (see table) and remember that Lacto-calcium is much more easily absorbed than Calcium carbonate which is, after all, marble. Together with lactose and Vitamin D, (almost twice as much as cows milk) the calcium in sheep milk is vital in the fight against Osteoporosis, the scourge in both the UK and USA. Bone density is laid down in adolescence and it is vitally important for children going on into their teens to drink milk. Most soft drinks, so popular among the young, actually destroy bone density. Calcium is also needed after any debilitating illness. Zinc is essential for the maintenance of healthy skin and is much recommended for many more things besides a good sex life including anorexia. Also for those who understand these things the calcium : phosphorus ratio is as nearly perfect as possible, i.e. the one cannot be digested without the other.
The vitamins. Mainly the B complex as well as A, D and E are all essential to good health and are most often recommended to be taken as a supplement. Why bother, when they are all in sheep milk. The milk is particularly well endowed with both Folic acid and B12 both sold as expensive supplements in every chemist and Health food shop.
The Fats. People are often put off by the high fat level quoted for sheep milk. There are a number of things to understand before condemning the milk to be skimmed to be acceptable. Remember that within the so called “fats” are three fat soluble vitamins, i.e. incorporated within the fat, without which you could be very ill if not dead. These are A, D and E. Sheep milk contains considerable more of these three vitamins than cow or goat milk. The vitamin D load is 0.18 g/100g against summer cow milk at 0.04 g/100g (British Nutritional Foundation). Sheep milk also contains a higher proportion of medium/short chain saturated fatty acids and it is believed that this leads to a higher lactose absorption of benefit to the mildly lactose intolerant. The other point is that sheep milk is not as high in saturated fatty acids as other milks, 45% of the fatty acids are either Mono or Polyunsaturated.Another thing is if you or any of your friends ever go on another binge, like the one most of us went on over the New Year, called “the longest party season in history” then drink a glass of high fat sheep milk three hours before you go out and it will line your stomach. Even such notorious drinkers as Keith Floyd recommend drinking “lassi” before going out on the town and that is just yoghurt and water mixed and tastes much better than the much vaunted olive oil remedy. The thing is to prevent the hangover rather than having to cure it.
The whey proteins, are the really easily digested form of protein found in milk which does not get incorporated in cheese, but slips out in the whey. Sheep milk is three times higher in this form of protein than cow or goat milk making the whole milk easier to digest.
The proteins. These come last because little work has really been done on them in sheep. Lamb is often the most recommended meat for people with intolerance to meat and without a sheep cheese, made of the main protein, casein, is acceptable to almost all who cannot tolerate cow or goat milk products.
The lactose. Even if people are severely lactose intolerant, the lactose will have been converted into lactic acid if they take their sheep milk in the form of yoghurt and much of the lactose goes out with the whey in hard cheese making. There is also evidence that the lactose in sheep milk is more redily tolerated than from other milk and certainly worth a try.
Remember that any illness or any cause for the use of antibiotics reduces your immune system, however wonderful antibiotics may be, they usually kill the good bugs along with the bad. Yoghurt, especially Acidolphus yoghurt, helps to redress this and restore the gut flora back to its original load, all working to prevent you getting ill again.
If nothing else can be said for sheep milk it is an excellent food. Before 1990 the Government decreed that it should be regulated as food not as milk, and they were right. Now it has lost its edge being legislated for as just milk. However it is now hoped that some doctors and researchers will start to look at the milk more seriously as the body of evidence in its ability to help a lot of people lead more normal lives is very compelling.