We love milk, at least as much as you do. If we need to express this in terms of distance – we love it from here to the Milky Way (evidently!) and back, which, although we can not cite exact kilometers we consider being quite a lot.
In the following lines we intend to tell you all about our milk, so that you can have a feel of how the whole thing works – from the cow, grazing peacefully in the meadow to the cup back home.
Where does the milk harmonica come from?
It is only natural when you love something to take care of it. This is why from the very beginning we provide our milk solely from two certified organic farms in Troyan’s Balkan. One is located in the village of Belish, the other – in Dobrodan.
The main characters in our cow stories are happy according to all strict cow criteria – in summer they are grazing along the wild semi-mountainous pastures, selecting for themselves the best and healthiest grasses, herbs, even mushrooms, although they use them only for appetizer and rarely. The pastures in the farms are not sprayed with pesticides or fertilized with artificial fertilizer. This means – the food of the cows is absolutely clean and healthy for them, and this affects the milk they produce.
In winter, when the animals are not outside, they are fed with hay and silage, produced by the farms themselves. These mixtures have no soya flours, hormones or imported genetically modified forage, so again milk quality is impeccable.
To summarize – the cows are happy and sated while the milk is tasty.
What makes our cows different?
The cows that produce milk for harmonica are mainly from the Montbeliarde breed but also Brownvieh and American Brown Swiss. They are suitable for breeding in semi-mountainous areas and climates because they possess firm hooves and muscular bodies that protect them from injuries and illnesses.
These breeds give less milk than other conventional ones (such as the Holstein cattle). Cows that enjoy grazing, regular conversations with friends and walks in the fresh air, produce 15-20 liters of clean and nice milk a day. For comparison – industrially breeded cows from certain breeds that are fed mainly with concentrated feed, do not move and live indoors, can produce up to 30-40 liters of milk per day. But this abundance comes at the expense of the quality.
Grazing ensures higher nutritional values of milk – it has more calcium, more omega-3 and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), and this is something that any milk can be proud of (and we along it).
To summarize – grazing cows have no existential and communal problems, they walk and eat whatever they consider tasty, lead an interesting social life, and as a result – we all drink their much cleaner and tastier milk. We consider this to be the better option – both for cows and humans.
Why don’t our cows get ill?
Simply because they are smarter! The nose of cows is very sensitive and when they graze, the animals know how to select those foods and herbs, of which they have the greatest need at any given moment (unlike many people!). In this manner the cows themselves take care of prevention and are rarely in need of treatment. For their fine shape breed, walking and movement are also of importance.
If a cow does get ill and is in need of medication nothing harmful comes of it. The animal simply goes on a sick leave, lies down, drinks soup and reads books. The milk is simply removed – that’s all.
The organic certificate requires from the farmers and producers to wait twice as long after the treatment of the cow before they can start using its milk for production. Different drugs have different quarantine periods, but it usually takes at least 8-10 days after treatment before the milk of the already healthy cow may be used.
Who are the partners of harmonica?
We work with both farmers Ivan and Nikolay since the very beginning and consider them as an integral part of our family. The price we pay for raw milk is on average 30% higher than that of conventional milk – sometimes twice as high as that of conventional milk, sometimes almost identical. We maintain a constant price throughout the year and don’t pay much attention to the constant changes in the price of milk globally. We rather comply with local circumstances, such as the increase in fuel prices, crop failure due to the weather, the need to purchase new equipment and more. We have always tried to provide fair price. The fact that the farms of both Ivan and Nikolay have increased their size several times since the beginning of our work together can only make us happy – this means more activities with care for the land and people.
Our milk supply may not be overwhelming in quantity but in quality and taste it definitely is!
The travels of the milk – chronologically
To ensure that the milk is as fresh as possible we transport it every two days from the farms to our dairy in Malo Buchino. There our chief technologist and magician Toma examines the fat content, proteins and purity after which the milk is processed and converted into various dairy delicacies.
Once the raw milk passes the quality check it is pasteurized by heating up to 95-96 C°. It remains at this temperature for about 30 minutes. Pasteurization is required in order to remove any harmful bacteria from the milk. Afterwards the milk is bottled. Its butter content is not altered during the process. Depending on the season the butter content of the milk can reach up to 4.4 %, while it never drops under 3.6 %.
We never temper with the butter content of our milk – you will get as much butter in your milk as has been produced by the cow. We are absolutely sure that the caw is the best specialist when it comes to milk production and this is why we don’t want to interfere with its work.
Another distinctive feature of our milk is the cream. The milk of harmonica has it, because it is not homogenized. In case you don’t know what homogenization is – it is a mechanical process by which the large fat globules are broken up into several times smaller particles. That makes the milk’s structure smoother and more homogeneous. It appears to be more dense and solid, but the newly formed fat particles are much smaller than in their natural form.
The milk of harmonica is spared from this humiliating process of breaking down the fat globules. We preserve the globules in their natural size. They rise to the surface of the milk, and thus form a cream!
In recent years, various scholars are holding different theories as to weather there is a connection between homogenization of milk and cardiovascular diseases, and weather the changed structure of milk fat achieved by the homogenization process is more difficult or easier to absorb by the human body.
While scholars argue and present new conclusions, we prefer to preserve the natural content and appearance of our milk as much as possible, and this is why we don’t use homogenization. When they finish with their research we are ready to give them a glass of our milk!
How is the yogurt harmonica made?
Following the principal that sometimes the simplest things are the best, our yogurt contains only milk and yeast. We add traditional Bulgarian yeast to the pasteurized milk, containing Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.
One particularity of the milk harmonica is that it has a different taste during different months of the year. The reason for this mystery is that in different seasons grazing cows feed on different plants that they find using their very sensitive noses. They select seasonal grasses and herbs, which change the flavor of the milk and create a very romantic sensation – milk with different bouquet of flavors!
Let’s talk about the shelf life
According to common legend the cap of the yogurt container must inflate in time in order to prove that the yogurt is “real”. Harmonica’s yogurt is real and it does not cause the cap to inflate. Now what?
The phenomenon of “inflated cap” is caused by yeast that has fallen in the milk during production due to poor hygiene. If the milk is clean and there is quality and hygiene control during production it should not contain microorganisms that cause the accumulation of gases and bad taste or odor.
This is why we only use brand new yeasts at the beginning of every production cycle. This ensures that our pasteurized milk contains only the desired Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus without any other undesired microorganisms. At home, however, it is impossible to maintain such a level of high hygiene. This is why home made yogurt turns sour quickly.
Why is harmonica’s milk more expensive than other milks?
Our goal is for the milk to be accessible to as many people as possible, but we are not prepared to compromise quality for the sake of the price. At our current volumes of production and at current prices of raw milk this is the best price we can offer. This is the simple truth.
When cows graze instead of feed on premade, industrially produced feed, they spend more energy to get food. Because of this they give less milk, which in turn is more expensive. We respect the work of our farmers and by milk at its real price. We would not lower the price of milk because we do not want to compromise on quality. We are sure, you too.
Why is our yogurt in a plastic container?
Because, alas, we have not found a better solution yet. We managed to introduce paper caps but the container is much more complicated. We are aware that this is a disadvantage, so we use polypropylene (plastic № 5 PP), where the transmission of elements from the packing into the food is minimal. We hope soon to be able to offer yogurt in cardboard containers. As soon as this happens we will let you know!
Why, after all, should we by harmonica?
Because clean food is a guarantee for harmonious, fulfilled and healthy life – something we all want. Moreover, the process of the production of milk is such that it preserves the purity of the soil and water, and hence the purity of the plants, on which the cows feed (the good old cycle in nature).
At each stage of production we seek to inflict minimal damage to the environment. For example – the dairy uses a boiler for heating the milk that works on waste products such as walnut shells and apricot kernels.
One more thing we will not tire of repeating – there is nothing unnecessary in harmonica’s yogurt – it contains only milk and yeast. It is probiotic, with rich nutritional values and health benefits. Everything yogurt should be.
Well, then – why not try it?