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Earn big profits by adding value to milk

Dairy consumption in Kenya has been on the rise, but product trends are moving away from liquid milk towards processed dairy products. Consumers are interested in local and specialty products.

Farmers and investors have seized the opportunity to market milk and its products, such as cheese, ghee, long-life milk, yoghurt, ice cream and butter.

The volume of milk marketed went from 682.3 million liters in 2020 to 801.9 million liters in 2021, according to the 2022 Economic Study. Milk production in 2021 registered a significant growth of 10.8% compared to negative growth 6.7% in 2020. The growth was mainly due to the increase in the production of processed milk.

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Production of processed milk and cream increased to 510.5 million liters from 457.9 million liters during the same period. Similarly, the amounts of processed butter and ghee and cheese increased by 7.1% and 11.6% to 1,025.8 tons and 176.4 tons, respectively, in 2021.

According to Jane Chebet, there are many reasons to start a value-added milk business.

“First of all, it’s great for the financial sustainability of your dairy, and if you’re passionate about dairy, it provides a business opportunity for future generations,” says Chebet, who is a dairy farmer.

Chebet makes mursik, cheese, butter, and ghee. He sells his produce to order and at the farmers market. She says that there is a wide range of milk and dairy products that can be explored, it all depends on one’s ability and interest.

She adds that milk, cheese, and yogurt are naturally packed with important nutrients like calcium and protein. The unique package of vitamins and minerals that they provide means that these dairy products contain some pretty significant health benefits. Here are the main value-added products of milk.

Cheese

To make cheese, you need milk as the main ingredient.

“To make cheese, use good quality fresh whole milk with low bacteria content. Do not use milk from diseased cows or colostrum. Use clean equipment.”

Reduce the fat content by letting the milk sit for about an hour, then remove the top layer.

Heat the milk to about 85 degrees Celsius to destroy any bacteria present and increase yield by precipitating whey protein (a by-product of the cheese-making process). Dilute the lemon juice with an equal amount of clean water so that the lemon is evenly distributed. Add about 30 ml of lemon juice per liter of milk. Stir the milk while carefully adding the lemon juice. The curd precipitates almost immediately. Continue stirring for about three minutes after adding the lemon juice.

Allow the curds to sit for 15 minutes. Separate the curds from the whey by draining through a strainer or cloth (use a cotton cloth folded twice). While draining the whey, stir the curds to prevent caking (coagulation). Add salt to the curd at the rate of about four grams (approximately one level teaspoon) per 100 ml of curd and mix well.

“The amount of salt can vary to meet the different tastes and preferences of consumers. Transfer the curds to a mold lined with cheesecloth. The mold can be cylindrical or square and can be made of metal, plastic or wood”, explains Chebet.

Cover the curd by folding the cheese cloth. Place a clean wooden board, cut perfectly inside the mold, to be able to press the curd.

Press the curds overnight using metal weights placed on top of the wooden form. Press twice the weight of the cheese (for every kg of cheese use two kg of press). Press for an hour or two and then remove the cheese from the mold. Store the cheese as is or cut it into suitable sizes for sale. Cover the cheese with a thin film of butter to improve the appearance. Mature the cheese on clean wooden shelves for at least four weeks at a temperature of 12 to 16°C. During ripening, take the cheese off the shelves every three days, put vinegar on a cloth and wipe the cheese clean.

“This process prevents fungal growth. The more mature the cheese, the stronger the flavor,” says Chebet.

100 grams of cheese costs Sh270 and 250 grams costs Sh550.

ghee

Ghee is 100 percent butterfat and is derived from butter. It is golden yellow in color and has a nutty aroma. It is made by completely separating the fat from the water, milk solids, and sugars found in butter.

“What remains are fat-soluble components such as amino acids, proteins and fat-soluble vitamins. It is more concentrated than butter since the milk solids have been removed,” he says.

While you can find ghee in the supermarket, it can also be made at home by slowly cooking the butter over very low heat until it melts. The water begins to separate from the fat and milk solids as it cooks (the butter). Once the water is completely gone, the milk solids will settle to the bottom. You can stop once the milk solids have settled or continue cooking the butter until the milk chunks turn a light reddish brown, which will give your ghee a rich caramel flavor. After the dairy components have separated, allow the mixture to cool slightly. Once this is done, strain the melted ghee through cheesecloth and store it in clean, dry jars. Ghee is particularly ideal for people who avoid lactose, which is removed during the preparation process. 500 grams of ghee costs around Sh400.

mursik

This is a traditional milk delicacy that is an integral part of the Kalenjin culture and heritage. It is made from fermented milk preserved in gourds lined with specially ground fine charcoal from selected trees. This gives it a unique smoky flavor. For a twist, animal blood is sometimes added.

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