Colostrum is the first milk of mammals. Like human colostrum, colostrum from cows is rich in immune factors, antimicrobial fatty acids, vitamins and minerals–all necessary to protect the calf from infection and insure adequate growth during infancy. Colostrum has a long history of use in the practice of medicine, especially in Ayurvedic medicine, and has been successfully used to treat a host of chronic diseases including allergies, autoimmune diseases, respiratory ailments, digestive disorders, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, gout and depression. In fact, colostrum is said to be the perfect anti-aging food and has been used in expensive spas for years.
A friend of mine from Turkey recounts that her mother always obtained colostrum in the spring–often at great trouble and expense–from a farmer in the countryside. She then lined up all the children and gave them a cupful of this tonic to drink. The immediate result, says my friend, was that they all fell asleep. The colostrum was said to help keep them healthy throughout the year.
There are many brands of dried colostrum available. Look for products that come from pasture-fed cows, have not been defatted and have been dried at low temperatures.
Even better, why not consume the real thing? If you have access to farm-fresh milk, ask your supplier to give you some colostrum in the spring, when the cows calve. The product from the first five milkings is considered colostrum.
In the English countryside, colostrum is called “beestings” and is used in a variety of custard and pudding dishes. It can be substituted for eggs because when used, it will cause the puddings to “set.”
The following recipes are taken from an old book called Farmhouse Fare. They may be adapted by using Rapadura when sugar is called for, arrowroot for corn flour, freshly ground and sifted whole grain flour for “flour,” and maple syrup for “syrup.”
As a prelude to the recipes, a Mrs. H. M. Watkins of Wrexham gives the following advice: “We do not use the very first as it is so deep in colour. I always test it by putting a little on a saucer in the oven. If it sets too ‘thick,’ I put a pint of milk to 3 pints of beestings (or in proportion, according to the way it sets), sprinkle a little pudding-spice on top and add a little sugar. Let it simmer in the oven, but not boil, just as if you were making an egg custard.” This presumably means that the beestings were set in custard cups and then in a pan of hot water. Note that the beestings “set” or congeal just like a custard containing eggs.
Have fun with the following recpies!
Take the third milking of the cow and set in a pan. After 6 to 12 hours, skim off about 2 pints of the rich head of the milk. Take a good size pie-dish, grease well. Mix 1 ounce cornflour with a little of the milk in a basin until smooth. Put the remainder of the milk into pie-dish. Add 1 ounce sugar (brown is best), 2 ounces sultanas [raisins] or currants. Then stir in the cornflour and bake in a moderate oven until golden brown and set.
When served, the fruit [raisins or sultanas] will be in a layer on the bottom.
Fill a pudding-dish with milk from the second milking. Stir in 2 tablespoonfuls syrup and mix well. Spread on top the cream from the first milking, put into a moderate oven, and bake until firm to touch and golden brown. This cheese cuts into smooth, creamy slices and is short and free in texture.
2 pints [20 ounces] new milk
1 breakfastcupful [8 ounces] water
1 breakfastcupful [8 ounces] beestings
Heated quickly on a bright fire, makes about 1 1/2 pounds delicious curd. [We assume this means to bring close to the boil over a high flame until the mixture curdles.]
One teacupful beestings is equal to 2 eggs in Yorkshire puddings. And do they rise!
To make 1 dozen small puddings, allow 3 tablespoonfuls batter to each tin. [Use a muffin pan for making large sized muffins or popovers.] Tins should be warm, bottoms just covered with melted fat. I use: 2 breakfastcupfuls flour; 1 breakfastcupful beestings; 2 tablespoonfuls water; 1 level teaspoonful salt; 1/2 pint [10 ounces] milk.
Mix flour and salt; pour in beestings and water. Beat out lumps, thin down with milk to creamy mixture. Bake in hot oven 20 to 30 minutes. As with Yorkshire puddings, do not open the oven door till they should be ready; it only wastes heat and may make the puddings go flop.
In case you should be tempted to use more beestings, don’t; you will get better results with less if it’s the first time you have tried them.
Add 2 parts beestings to 1 part water and stir over a fire of stove till it thickens. Don’t let it boil. To this add 3 eggs [beaten], 1/2 pound sugar, a little nutmeg, currants , a little marmalade instead of peel, add if possible a small quantity of rum.
Line tins or saucers [tart pans] with paste [pie crust dough] and put a good filling of the mixture and you will find this delicious.
Beestings “New Cheese”
I wonder how many country women make that old-fashioned farmhouse dainty “new cheese”?
For this you fill a pudding-dish with milk from the second milking of a newly-calved cow. Heat 2 tablespoonfuls of syrup and add, stirring until thoroughly blended. Remove cream carefully from first milking and use to “top” cheese. Bake in a moderate oven until golden brown and firm to touch. (An oven suitable for a baked custard is just right.) New cheese made thus cuts in smooth, creamy slices, and is short and free in texture. Served with cream, it is a delicious change from the usual milk pudding.
N.B.–A too intense oven ruins the texture of new cheese, making it tough and leathery instead of tender.
Colostrum has a long history of use in the practice of medicine, especially in Ayurvedic medicine, and has been successfully used to treat a host of chronic diseases.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2002.