How to eat colostrum

Colostrum is es­sen­tial for new­born calves, very ben­e­fi­cial to hu­mans, and – as Sh­eryn has dis­cov­ered – simple to cook and de­li­cious to eat.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - WORDS SH­ERYN CLOTH­IER

Once the calves have had their share, I have pre­vi­ously fed any left­over golden colostrum milk to the pigs. They en­joy it.

I’ve al­ways been aware of colostrum’s im­por­tance to the new­born calf, and vaguely con­scious that some en­tre­pre­neur was mar­ket­ing it as a health sup­ple­ment. But when my hus­band and father-in-law would line up for their an­nual elixir, I would wrin­kle my nose. It’s thick and creamy and slightly strong in taste, but my re­fusal to drink it was more psy­cho­log­i­cal than any­thing else.

Then an In­dian friend came to stay dur­ing calv­ing. He was hor­ri­fied when I ‘wasted’ the re­main­ing 10 litres of colostrum my lit­tle Jer­sey calf couldn’t drink. He rhap­sodised nos­tal­gi­cally about ‘first day lol­lies’ and told sto­ries of lin­ing up and trea­sur­ing the once-a-year treat.

I had never even thought about cook­ing with it. Re­search un­earthed a few recipes from the Mid­dle Ages and In­dia and so many health ben­e­fits I could call it a medicine.

The golden touch

Ac­cord­ing to the mar­ket­ing, con­sum­ing colostrum (bovine colostrum be­ing ap­par­ently iden­ti­cal to hu­man colostrum) will re­set my hor­monal sys­tem back to lev­els as­so­ci­ated with youth, boost my im­mune sys­tem to its top fight­ing form, re­store my di­ges­tive sys­tem to op­ti­mal func­tion, and pro­vide my body with ev­ery ba­sic es­sen­tial nu­tri­ent known. Oh, and it will help me win an Olympic medal in swim­ming.

It does this with pre­bi­otics, pro­bi­otics, im­munoglob­u­lins, IGFS (in­sulin-like growth fac­tors) and oligosac­cha­rides (which re­verse wrin­kles). There are a host of other un­pro­nounce­able con­tents but the gist is it’s good for you.

I couldn’t find any in­for­ma­tion that said I had to be less that six hours old to get the full ben­e­fits (as does a calf) or whether all these good­ies sur­vive the cook­ing process, but cer­tainly the orig­i­nal, raw, fresh colostrum is un­doubt­edly ben­e­fi­cial.

Colostrum cook­ing ex­per­i­ments

When I started cook­ing with it last year, I found it in­cred­i­bly easy, re­sult­ing in a beau­ti­ful tex­ture and flavour. Of all its com­po­nents, it is the high pro­tein con­tent of colostrum that in­flu­ences the cook­ing.

Ba­si­cally, colostrum cooks like a milk and egg mix. Bake it slow as a crème brulee, baked cus­tard or bread and but­ter pud­ding. Its taste is a lit­tle more del­i­cate than an egg and milk mix, and the tex­ture is some­what smoother.

By it­self it is bland, but with a sweet­ener and flavour­ings it is an ex­quis­ite sweet dessert. I used honey or sugar, vanilla and nut­meg as those are the flavours I like, but In­dian junnu or possu calls for sugar, pep­per and car­damom or saf­fron. The Scan­di­na­vian dessert kalv­dans is just the ad­di­tion of sugar and salt. All these recipes are slow baked or steamed un­til set.

The only trick is to get the con­sis­tency right and as ev­ery cow and milk­ing is dif­fer­ent, this can only be done by trial and er­ror. One ref­er­ence said to bake a small amount in a dish to see how it set first, but I just made mine up and hoped for the best and they all set beau­ti­fully.

First day milk is too strong and the rec­om­men­da­tion is to di­lute this with nor­mal milk, one cup of colostrum to any­thing be­tween two and six cups of milk. Since I didn’t have any nor­mal milk, I sim­ply used sec­ond day milk which was perfect.

Colostrum is a thick, yel­low first milk from a cow that has just calved.

A cot­tage-style cheese made from colostrum.

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