Deer milk is sourced from the South Island of New Zealand, and has recently debuted on the Australian market. The milk is produced by red deer that consume a natural grass diet and are free to roam the farmland.
The farmed deer produce around 1 litre of milk per day during the milking season, which is between November and February. The product is sold in powdered form, and is the result of a partnership between Pamu and the McIntyre family, who are fifth-generation farmers.
Fresh deer milk has a shelf life of just two days, which is why it makes sense to spray-dry the milk and turn it into a powder that has an 18-month lifespan. The milk is also pasteurised during the process, which is a food safety requirement in New Zealand. The powder does not contain any additives and preservatives, and is made from 100 per cent deer milk.
Supplying deer milk in a powder form provides chefs with flexibility when using the product, minimises wastage and ensures supply all year round.
Given the product is naturally rich in fats, it’s recommended chefs refrigerate the powder below four degrees Celsius. Once rehydrated, the product should be stored in the fridge and consumed within two days.
Deer milk has double the amount of fat and protein of cow’s milk, making it rich and creamy. It leaves a velvety smooth texture on the palate that is full of flavour. White in colour, deer milk also offers floral and nutty notes on the nose.
Deer milk is a culinary first, giving chefs an opportunity to experiment with a truly new ingredient. In New Zealand, deer milk initially found its home in the luxury dessert space, but chefs are now using it in main or savoury dishes along with cocktails.
The structure of deer milk is different, with protein and fat working together to give a unique cooking and eating experience. Deer milk is suited to sauces or desserts such as ice cream, panna cotta, yoghurt and crème brûlee.
When making crème brûlee, you would normally have equal quantities of milk and cream. When using deer milk to make crème brulee, no cream is needed to get a velvety texture with a distinct flavour profile.
Founder of Brasserie Bread, Michael Klausen, recently experimented with deer milk and found baking with the product created soft, enriched bread. “Deer milk works really well in bread baking and shows great potential for future use,” he says.
Deer milk can be used as a feature ingredient across all types of cuisines and in a multitude of uses.
Image credit: Pamu
This article originally appeared in Hospitality‘s November issue. Subscribe here.