Shenandoah Valley Family Farms
What could be more satisfying than a cold glass of creamy, fresh milk or a slice of delicious locally crafted cheese? At 4P Foods, we partner with small and sustainable dairy farmers to ensure your weekly Dairy Bag is overflowing with wholesome goodness.
We're thrilled to support Shenandoah Valley Family Farms, a group of Certified Organic small dairy farms "using old ways in a changing world." Shenandoah Valley Family Farms are dedicated to responsible stewardship of the planet, the living things and land in their care. Among the group of farms is Mountain Branch Creamery, located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Mountain Branch Creamery is a family farm, owned and operated by Wayne and Annie Beery and several part-time employees including extended family and church community.
The cows are rotated twice a day on healthy pasture containing different varieties of grasses (grass, forbs, and legumes) to bring diversity to the land and the cows' diet. Since their herds graze and are never fed grains, the wild grasses and other plants in the cows' diets impart subtle flavor notes in the milk which change with the seasons.
With a commitment to high-quality ingredients and artisanal product creation Mountain Branch Creamery prides themselves on bringing you milk in its “whole goodness”. The creamery produces "cow to carton" milk and cheese that is processed right on the farm and is high in CLAs, omega 3 fatty acids, and proteins. Their whole and chocolate milk have been vat pasteurized and contain natural fat, while still being over 95% fat free.
STEP INTO THE FarmSTEAD Creamery
Around 8:30 am fresh milk is pumped from the holding tank in the milking barn to the creamery, where it continues its journey to your table as cheese or whole and chocolate milk. It takes the creamery 5-7 hours to turn the milk into a wheel of cheese, but before it reaches your mouths, it's air-dried, waxed, and aged for a minimum of 60 days in a cooler containing about 17,000 pounds of cheese! Adding to the delicious flavor, Mountain Branch Creamery uses Celtic Sea Salt in their products which is an extra minerally, unrefined, and healthier salt compared to whole salt.
The journey for milk is a much faster process. In the creamery, milk is pasteurized to a minimum of 145 degrees and then cooled to below 45 degrees and bottled immediately. Fun Fact: Did you know it’s illegal to hand cap milk containers? Wayne has a great setup and walked the 4P Team through the process of how his machinery helps with the capping process.
Be on the lookout for Shenandoah Valley Family Farms Grade A, non-homogenized (cream on top) whole milk in your 4P Dairy bag, available in Organic, A2, and Vat Pasteurized options. Non-homogenized milk is minimally processed to deliver healthy milk in its natural form. It's real, local, 100% grass-fed milk without GMOs or growth hormones.
We hope to offer more options like chocolate milk and 2% milk from Shenandoah Valley Family Farms in the future.
MORE ON MILK
Non-homogenized or "creamline" milk is that which has natural fat molecules, or cream, that have not been removed through the homogenization process. You can skim the cream off with a spoon, and it's delicious in coffee, Thai iced tea, or over fresh fruit. But you can also simply shake the bottle to blend it before use. Separation into milk and cream will reoccur as the milk settles.
By law, all milk sold in the state of VA must be pasteurized. This process heats the milk so that potentially harmful bacteria are destroyed but the product's quality and nutritional content are preserved. Specific methods include high temperature short time (HTST) and low temperature long time (LTLT) or vat/batch pasteurization.
A2 milk contains a different type of beta-casein protein than typical cow's milk, which contains the A1 beta-casein protein. A2 protein makes A2 cow's milk structurally similar to goat, sheep, and buffalo milk. Some sources suggest that A2 milk is easier to digest and absorb than A1 milk and may have additional health benefits.
Photos Courtesy of SVFF. Pictured Patsy and Scarlet at Mountain Branch Creamery.