Sheep milk, the other other milk
By Aaron Agnew
Let’s continue our discussion of milk by looking at the other, other milk… An “udderly” fine alternative to the conventional options that we see in the grocery store. A milk that not only contains higher concentrations of certain vitamins and minerals than its counter parts, but that can produce more of that glorious food item called cheese per volume. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about sheep’s milk.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, sheep milk has higher concentrations of both fat and protein than cow and goat milk. The only milk types that exceed sheep with fat content come from buffalo and yak. The USDA states that while cow milk has a typical fat content of around 7-8 grams per cup, sheep milk will average around 17 grams per cup. Well, over double that of cow milk.
This high fat content means, among other things, that a greater amount of cheese can produced by volume with the milk. AAhhhh… Cheese, that food item which in comparison to all others stands alone on the pinnacle of perfectly palatable provender. The higher fat content also means that sheep milk, like goat milk, has a higher energy value per unit than cow milk.
Let’s talk about the nutritional content of sheep milk. How does it compare to Cow milk? Well, according to figures provided by the USDA, sheep milk out scores cow on multiple fronts. While cow milk provides approximately 276 mg of calcium per cup, sheep milk provides a whopping 473! It also provides more iron, potassium, Vitamin C, and others. Cow milk does, however, provide more Riboflavin, Vitamin B-6, and a few others.
Another aspect of sheep milk is that the milk is naturally homogenized. That is, like goat milk, sheep milk does not separate from the cream. While this does mean that sheep milk cannot be used to make butter, it also means that the milk will remain uniform until it is consumed.
How does it taste? Determining whether one milk type has a better flavor than another is wholly subjective and up to the individual consumer. However, due to the high fat content many people find sheep milk to be rich and creamy.