Friday, December 21, 2012


How about drinking a cup of Donkey's milk? Whether one likes it or not, its availability is a big question mark since there is no organized production of this obscure milk any where in the world. It appears that the only Donkey farm reported to be functioning in Serbia has become a captive one for serving in an exclusive restaurant chain owned by a reputed tennis player. What makes donkey milk so unique is a mystery and the cheese made from this milk commands a ridiculously high price making it beyond the reach of many customers. The only advantage donkey milk enjoys seems to be its similarity to human milk in terms of composition though it is claimed that it has 60 times the concentration of vitamin C compared to other milk varieties. Here is a take on this new product now being promoted in Serbia.

"If you were considering shelling out $500 for a pound of donkey cheese, we're sorry. The world's supply has dried up and Novak Djokovic is to blame. Djokovic, the number-one ranked singles tennis player in the world, has purchased the entire global supply of Pule, a rare cheese produced from donkey milk that can cost over $500 per pound, ABC News reports. Djokovic reportedly bought the annual output of Pule from the world's sole producer, a donkey farm 50 miles west of the Serbian capital Belgrade. Djokovic plans to use the white, crumbly cheese, which recently set the record for the world's most expensive cheese, in a chain of restaurants he's opening. The Serbian farm also produces donkey soap and bottled donkey milk, which is said to contain 60 times more vitamin C than cow's milk, according to the Daily Mail. Cleopatra was rumored to have maintained her beauty by bathing in donkey's milk, the British newspaper notes. To make Pule, farmers must milk donkeys by hand up to three times a day".

Whether donkey milk has any distinct taste or flavor is not clear but since cheese is made after precipitating the protein fraction, most flavor might have been lost in the whey fraction. Also not known is whether one can make specialty cheeses like blue vein cheese and others from this milk. One of the USPs of donkey milk is that composition wise it resembles human milk and there are reports that this was used for infant feeding in some communities during early years. Interestingly this milk has very low fat content, about 0.3 to 1.8% compared to 3.3-3.9 in cow's milk. High content of lactose makes it a more energy yielding milk and those allergic to cow milk proteins can tolerate donkey milk much better. Probably low protein content in donkey milk is the reason for the high cost as cheese yield will be significantly lower. Besides milk yield from an average donkey is no more than 0.2-0.3 liter a day to be milked three times a day adding to the cost of production. If there is a distinct advantage for donkey milk over other varieties of milk, more scientific efforts are needed to improve the quality of the animal stock through breeding.  


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