Fresh Milk – Leche Fresca

Cows = milk - Vacas = leche

A friend I made in Paraguay recently spent some time in India. Looking at her photos I was struck by how similar to Paraguay it looked. Why? Because there were cows everywhere! Rarely does a day go by in Paraguay without a cow sighting. What with their road crossing and hanging laundry eating you may consider cows more of a nuisance than novelty, but consider this: cows = milk!

Una amiga que conocí en Paraguay recientemente pasó un tiempo en la India. Al mirar sus fotos me asombré de cuanto se parecía al Paraguay. ¿Por qué? ¡Porque habían vacas por todas partes! Es raro que pase un día en el Paraguay sin que veas una vaca. Con su mala costumbre de cruzar la ruta y también de comer ropa que se está secando al sol quizás consideres que las vacas son más peste que novedad, pero considera lo siguiente: vacas = ¡leche!


Straight from the cow to the soda bottle - directo de la vaca a la botella de gaseosa

The word for milk in Guaraní is “cambu,” pronounced “cam” (camaraderie) “boo” (bamboo) with an emphasis on the last syllable. Like so many other liquids in Paraguay, fresh milk is generally sold out of two liter soda bottles (often still complete with the plastic Niko label). Milk costs between Gs. 3,000 and 5,000 per liter. Buying fresh cow’s milk is relatively simple – you just have to find a milkman. The best way to do this is to inquire with your neighbors or the local “almacén” owner. Note: street vendors shouting “LECHE, LECHE, LECHE!” near soccer stadiums are not to be confused with milkmen; those guys are actually selling beer!

Once you obtain your fresh milk you can bring it to a full boil in order to pasteurize it or just take your chances and drink it as is. Refrigerated, fresh milk should last 1-2 days. If you leave it out the milk will separate in to cream (on top) and buttermilk (on bottom). Both of these are great for cooking (think whipped cream on top of buttermilk pancakes). If you have some children (yours or your neighbors’) to boss around you can put the cream in a bottle and ask them to shake it. The cream will eventually separates in to butter and buttermilk. It´s a great science experiment for kids! Another easy thing to make with fresh milk is yogurt. I’ll cover that process in a future post for those of you that want thick yogurt, as opposed to thinner, “bebible” yogurt. If you have any tips for using fresh milk share them here or on the Discovering Paraguay Facebook page!

En Guaraní a la leche se le llama “cambu,” el cual se pronuncia “cam” (camarote) “bu” (bambú) con el acento en la última sílaba. Como tantos otros líquidos en Paraguay la leche fresca normalmente se vende en botellas de plástico de dos litros (algunas veces aún con la etiqueta de Niko). La leche cuesta entre Gs. 3,000 y Gs. 5,000 el litro. Comprar leche de vaca fresca es relativamente simple – sólo hay que hubicar a un lechero. La mejor manera de hacer esto es preguntándole a tus vecinos o al almacenero de la esquina. Nota: los vendedores en frente de estadios de fútbol gritando “¡LECHE, LECHE, LECHE!” no son lecheros – ¡ellos venden cerveza, no leche!

Una vez que obtienes tu leche fresca puedes hervirlo para pasteurizarlo o tomarlo no más. En la nevera la leche se conservará 1-2 días. Si lo dejas a temperatura de ambiente la leche se cuajará, convertiéndose en cream (arriba) y suero (abajo). Ambos son buenos ingredientes para la cocina (imaginate crema batida encima de panqueques hechos con el suero). Si tienes niños a tu disposición puedes meter la crema dentro de una botellita y pedir que lo agiten. La crema eventualmente se convertirá en manteca y suero. ¡Es un buen experimento de ciencia para los niños! Hacer yogurt es otra opción bastante fácil. Escribiré sobre el proceso en el futuro para aquellos lectores que quieren probar yogurt más espeso que el yogurt bebible. ¡Si tienes más sugerencias para usar la leche fresca compartlias aquí o en la página de Facebook de Descubriendo Paraguay.


Posted in Food - Comida, Guaraní - Guaraní Tagged with: , , ,
5 comments on “Fresh Milk – Leche Fresca
  1. Christina says:

    What a coincidence that you should mention “buttermilk”. I just recently moved to Asuncion and for the past two weeks I have been looking to buy buttermilk but can’t find it. I guess I will be trying to make it myself 😉

  2. Jean says:

    I am pleased that you are regularly posting again.

    I have seen the trucks around with milk churns and the fresh milk being sold door to door. I love the choice of how and where to buy things in Paraguay.

    I am looking forward to the post for thick yogurt as the last time i tried it was a bit of a disaster.

  3. David says:

    And how often is the milk mixed with water so that they can sell more of it? I got much more whey than I should have out of my cheese making experiment the other day.

  4. paraguay says:

    David, that is a good question. I’m not sure to be honest!

  5. Alex says:

    David, fresh milk has a little more milkfat than commercial whole milk (sometimes much more, depending on the breed of cow and what it’s been eating). So try a sip before you make cheese next time – if its not creamier than whole milk its time to get a new milkman!

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