Southern Swiss Dairy in Waynesboro, Georgia and Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake

Do you know where your milk comes from?  Did you ever wonder why some milk tastes rich and others watery?  Why does some milk have a wonderfully pleasing taste while others have an off taste? Most milk is co-mingled and trucked in from several different states.  The milk comes from different types of cows with different feeding and processing.  We learned this and much more after visiting with Ginny and Jimmy Franks of Southern Swiss Dairy in Waynesboro, Georgia.

We first met the Franks family at the Georgia State Fair last year over a container of their chocolate milk. We went to see their beautiful Swiss Dairy cows and they offered us some of their milk which is bottled at their own processing plant at their farm.  This was unlike any other chocolate milk we had ever tasted. That rich, cold, velvety chocolate taste that lingered in our mouths…It brought back memories of my childhood and having Bassett’s Ice Cream from the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.  That was the richest dairy product I had ever tasted until this milk!

There were lots of cows at the fair

The Brown Swiss Dairy cattle are some of the prettiest cows

The quality of the milk produced by their cows and the higher fat content made this milk something special.  Of course, we knew this was going to be an On the Road adventure at first sip.  We just had to wait until this Spring to get to their farm!

Southern Swiss Dairy is a small family operation in southeast Georgia with 140 milking cows (the majority are Swiss Dairy cows).  They have 950 acres of land and grow supporting crops on much of their property including corn, barley, hay, rye grass and oats.  Ginny’s family has always been involved in dairy farming and after living in North Carolina and South Carolina over the years, managing some larger herds over that time, they moved to this property in 1987.

Whitney and Meredith work with their parents on the farm

There are six main breeds of dairy cattle (Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Brown Swiss, Milking Shorthorn and Ayrshire).  Most of the milk that we get at the grocery store is from a combination of these cattle, so you would never know how a particular cow’s milk would taste.  Swiss Dairy cows are very popular because their milk is highest in protein and fat.  These cows also have a wonderful temperament which impacts the flavor of milk.  Stressed cows are not happy cows and happy cows produce better milk. :)

Most whole milk that you purchase will be 3.25% fat.  The milk fat is 3.5% in the Southern Swiss Dairy whole milk.  If you have ever wondered why 2% milk varies so much in taste, it is because 2% milk can range (by law) between 1.1 – 2.5% fat.  At Southern Swiss Dairy, their 2% milk has exactly 2% fat.  Their milk is not homogenized, so you will find that you need to shake it well before drinking it or using it in cooking to mix the fat into the milk properly.

These girls are training to be shown

 

Their farm has a total of 950 acres

Brown Swiss cattle are known to be the oldest of all dairy breeds. They originated in the northeastern part of Switzerland. They tend to hold up better under heat so they produce more milk in hot climates.  Since they are not adversely affected by the warmer climates, they are able to eat more (therefore producing more milk).

They also do not seem to have the same breeding problems as some of the other breeds (like the Holsteins).  They  have good feet and udders and stay in the milking herd for more lactations than other dairy breeds.  These cows will grow to an average weight of 1600-1800 pounds and will live to be 10 to 11 years old.  They will generally breed or “calve” once a year.

Brown Swiss cows are more tolerant of the heat and therefore, can produce more milk

Some of these calves are literally days old and are separated from the older cows

The Franks are involved in a dairy coop which is the way most small dairy farmers market and sell their milk.  Their cows will produce approximately 900 gallons of milk per day.  That means each cow is producing approximately 6 1/2 gallons per day.  Their cows are milked twice a day.  I’m thinking that’s a whole lotta chocolate milk…  and a lot of work!

Their coop is regulated by Federal and interstate regulations.  The regulations make it very difficult to make a profit from their milk.  The milk is co-mingled with other farmers’ milk and they have to truck their milk to Florida to sell it to the coop.  Jimmy told me that if the coop falls short on the milk that it needs to cover its customers, the shortfall is then divided amongst the coop members to cover the cost of trucking it in from somewhere else.

Ginny with Pecan who is The face of Southern Swiss Dairy

Hello girls!

The Frank family recently decided to bottle and market their own milk and milk products as a way to make a profit on their own branded milk, in addition to working with the coop.   Although they are using their own milk (that has never left their dairy farm and has only traveled several feet to the processing plant) to make and bottle their own dairy products, they still have to sell their milk to the coop first and then buy it back.  Jimmy said that much of the time they are paying more for their own milk than what they can sell it for.

Their milking facility

Selling direct to the customers has created many challenges for this family that already has more than a full-time job just maintaining a dairy farm on a daily basis.  They are now in the business of dealing with the public, selling and delivering their products and spending time marketing their milk.  Their children are involved with the family farm and even the nephews like to come and help out Aunt Ginny on vacations, but the day-to-day operations are incredibly labor intensive.  I wonder how many of us could take on a business with this much capital cost and complexity and make a go of it?

Can I take Pecan home with me?

The Franks now have less time to show their cattle (which is how we met them).   They are very proud of the fact that they breed the cattle that they show and do not buy them.  They have been bred, born and raised by their family and are always pleased with wherever they place.  They are truly beautiful cows and happy too!  I can vouch for that. :)

Beautiful and happy cows!

The Franks sell their dairy products at their farm, but also deliver them to convenience stores and some Farmers’ Markets in Georgia.  Savannah has been a great market for their products and has been very supportive.  Southern Swiss Dairy products are also sold at Buford Highway Farmers’ Market in Atlanta and they deliver there every other week, so if you are in the Atlanta area, I suggest you purchase some of their truly fresh from the farm dairy products.

Thank you so much to the Franks family for sharing your story with us and taking time out of your busy schedule to let us visit your farm.  We came home with chocolate milk (of course we did!), whole milk, skim milk, buttermilk, heavy cream and fresh churned butter.  I put every bit of these wonderful products to good use.

There is nothing quite like fresh dairy products from the farm

I made whole milk ricotta cheese that was soo much better than what you can buy at the store (a recipe that includes the fresh ricotta will be coming at a later date).   I also made a Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Cake (from some of my own frozen Meyer Lemon juice) and used their heavy cream to make homemade whipped cream.  Be sure not to overcook the cake.  It should be golden brown on top, but spring back when lightly touched in the middle.  This is a lovely summer dessert that will literally melt in your mouth made from farm fresh buttermilk and topped with whipped cream and strawberries!

The puddling cake will have a runny layer on the bottom

Topped with fresh whipped cream and berries this is the perfect summertime dessert!

If you have never had fresh milk like this and all from the same farm, you need to.  There is nothing better.  And please remember, support your family farms.  They are producing a truly wonderful product that we don’t want to lose.

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake with Fresh Berries

Yield: 6-8 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (I used my own juice that was frozen and then thawed)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Homemade whipped cream
Fresh berries (I like strawberries or blueberries with this dessert)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Blend buttermilk, 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks, lemon juice, flour, butter, and salt in blender until smooth. Transfer buttermilk mixture to medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Gently fold buttermilk mixture into whites in 3 additions (batter will be runny).

Pour batter into prepared dish. Place dish in roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of dish. Bake until entire top is evenly browned and cake moves very slightly in center but feels slightly springy to touch, about 45 minutes. Remove dish from roasting pan.

Cool cake completely in baking dish on rack. Refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 6 hours. Spoon pudding cake out into shallow bowls. Top with whipped cream and berries.

Adapted slightly from Epicurious.com

13 Responses to “Southern Swiss Dairy in Waynesboro, Georgia and Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake”

  1. 1

    Lori @ RecipeGirl — June 2, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

    What a beautiful post! Love the looks of that cake, too!

    • Gwen replied: — June 2nd, 2011 @ 11:19 pm

      Hi Lori,

      Thank you for your comment. We love visiting these farms and meeting the families that produce our food. The lovely dessert is definitely a benefit from our travels!

      Gwen

  2. 2

    Brian @ A Thought For Food — June 2, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

    Look at those adorable cows! You really go to some amazing places. Just lovely!

    And the cake… I really don’t know what to say. I’m salivating from looking at those pictures.

  3. 3

    Denise@There's a Newf in My Soup! — June 2, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

    The Bunkycooks’ team truly does an outstanding job on these farm visits – the farmers must be so pleased with the informative write ups, stunning photographs, and wonderful recipes featuring their products. That pudding cake looks so moist and decadent. Another great On the Road post!

  4. 4

    The Texas Peach — June 2, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

    What a great family farm! I wish the Frank family all the success in the world. Those Brown Swiss Dairy cows really are the prettiest breed of all the cows, and the calves are just adorable. Your cake looks and sounds so yummy. Definitely perfect for summer!

  5. 5

    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — June 2, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

    Another great on-the-road post about a wonderful local food source. I’d love to try some of their products next time I get to the Buford Highway Farmers Market!

  6. 6

    Nelly Rodriguez — June 2, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

    Yum, that cake reminds me of Tres Leches! Sooo delicious! I was just going on a rant about how I just don’t like fat-free milk!

  7. 7

    Susan in the Boonies — June 2, 2011 @ 7:54 pm

    I bet I never told you that I used to live in Switzerland! The milk over there is phenomenal, and completely different in taste from ours. The double-creme is like BUTTAH. Seriously! Yellow and thick and heavenly!

    I had no idea that the butterfat in 2% milk could vary so widely! It’s true, so many of them do taste so different. And my kids are very particular about the taste of the one they prefer: I think it might be a bit richer, because they absolutely despise the one I prefer: Sweet Acidopholus, which I think is only 1%.

    Great post, Gwen! Thanks!

  8. 8

    The Mom Chef — June 2, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

    What an amazing visit. My uncle-in-law was a dairy farmer for many years and he had his milk trucked off so I know it was mingled in with many other farmers’. This looks like it’s worth a special trip though.

    That pudding cake is also something else. I don’t know that I’d want to cover up any of its flavor with berries and whipped cream. It looks fantastic all on its own.

  9. 9

    Priscilla - She's Cookin' — June 3, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

    The Meyer lemons live on! The cake looks so moist and I can imagine the flavor with dairy-fresh buttermilk and whipped cream! I used to know where the milk I drank came from – we grew up drinking goat’s milk from goats we milked! My daughter would love some of their chocolate milk. Yet another interesting and informative On The Road Adventure :)

  10. 10

    Lori — June 4, 2011 @ 9:50 am

    Beautiful photos! There is just something about a dairy that warms my heart and local milk has been a big topic for me lately. They seem to be on the upswing in KY and milk from the area is becoming much more available which I am loving!

  11. 11

    megan @ whatmegansmaking — June 6, 2011 @ 11:41 am

    This cake sounds incredible!! especially with strawberries and whipped cream. Very informative post, thank you! :)

  12. 12

    Kim — June 9, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

    In the last ten or so years, MANY of the dairy farmers in Southern CA have sold their properties to the home developer throwing the most $$ at them. So here, the cows are disappearing, and in their place – 7,200 sq. ft. tract homes. Sad.

    The cows at Southern Swiss Dairy are beautiful! I’d love to take a pair home and put them in my own backyard.

    It’s amazing how tastes can vary, based on animal breed, location, and diet.

    We’re actually about to get some chickens here, and I’m curious to know if the eggs will have a “hint” of arugula to them because there’s so much volunteer arugula in our yard. Stay tuned… :)

    [K]

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