Sunday, 6 July 2014


Three times in the last couple of weeks - including today - I have had to throw away milk that had gone sour.  Granted, I've not thrown away vast quantities, just the last bit in the bottom of the bottle, enough for two or three cups of tea.  It's not something that has happened in our household for many a long month - or even year.  And before you ask, yes, we do keep our milk in the fridge.  There has been something of a hiatus in the victualling department just recently which has led to milk not being used in our usual quantities and that has undoubtedly had its effect.  Take this morning, for instance.  The milk was quite clearly marked "use by 6 July" so, given that today is 6th July, I thought it would be OK.  But it wasn't.

Maybe I'll have to start doing what my mother always did in the summer months.  I'm talking about the time before every family had a fridge.  Indeed, back in the late 1940s and early 50s it was rare for anybody to own a fridge.  In those days, milk was delivered to the doorstep every morning in glass bottles containing either a pint or half a pint.  There were various means employed to keep the milk cool but what my mother - and plenty of other housewives - did was to boil the milk.  Once boiled, the milk was allowed to cool and then used normally, but the boiling stopped it going off.  A by-product of the boiling was the luxury of what we regarded as cream: the skin of the boiled milk.  We loved this and would spread it on top of lemon marmalade (Robertson's Silver Shred) on bread and margarine.  A luxury breakfast!

Talking of cream, I wonder whatever happened to the cream we used to get at the top of the bottle?  OK, so it wasn't really cream, simply milk thicker than the rest caused by the remnants of the cream rising to the top.  That was always the best bit to pour onto the breakfast cereal.  Mind you, it wasn't as good as the milk at my cousin's farm.

It was back in the mid 1980s that my cousin and her husband took over his family's farm.  Things were very run down and there was little money to spend on improving matters.  Consequently, two Jersey cows were bought and milked by hand morning and evening.  The cream was skimmed off the milk and made into butter using a small hand-operated churn.  Even so, that milk was thick and creamy.  None of the pateurising or homogenising done on that farm!

Lily being milked in 1983

Some years later, Julian acquired a milking machine which I helped to install - but not before my children had all learned to milk a cow.

1 comment:

joeh said...

All very cool! I remember milk delivered every day even though we had a fridge. Never knew about the boiling trick.

I do remember getting non homogenized milk and the heavy milk on top (I thought it was cream.)

And real cream on cereal...OMG!!