Discover how three generations of dairy farming and a fateful Tinder encounter led to Dorset’s award winning small-batch, strained yoghurt – Britain’s answer to the Greek stuff. Alex Rawe, co-founder of The Dorset Dairy Company reveals all.
What’s the story behind the Dorset Dairy Co?
It all started 60 years ago when Dan’s Grandad moved to Crib House Farm in Stalbridge and started producing milk with just 20 cows. Dan was 18 years old when he became the third generation of the family to work on the farm. Given that we had access to vast amounts of milk, we started looking into ways we could process it. We had a great time experimenting making cheddar, ricotta and kefir on the AGA, but the yoghurt, strained through muslin, was an immediate success. The more we looked into it, the more we realised there was a gap in the market for a healthy artisanal product.
Tell us a little about how you and Dan met.
My grandparents retired in Dorset and I would try to visit them once a month. One fateful Christmas my sister and I thought we’d check out Tinder…Next thing I know, a handsome farmer asks me out for dinner! Nine months later I quit my job and moved down to Dorset. It was quite the lifestyle change but I couldn’t be happier and we’re getting married next year.
What kind of yoghurts do you make?
We make two types of yoghurt, Whole Milk Dorset Strained Yoghurt and Fat Free Dorset Strained Yoghurt. The whole milk yoghurt is smooth and creamy, while the fat free yoghurt has a more tangy flavour. They both make a filling breakfast or snack, not to mention a handy cooking ingredient.
How do you make them?
Dan fills up the milk trolley with fresh morning milk, wheels it across the yard into the yoghurt room and pumps it into a vat. We don’t homogenise our milk or add thickeners, nor do we process the yoghurt to make it smoother – meaning each batch is unique. All we do is pasteurise it and add the live bio cultures required to make yoghurt. We then pour the mixture into cloth bags and hang them up to strain out the water and lactose, the old fashioned way. The result is a luxuriously creamy textured proper Dorset-style yoghurt, which is packed with protein and essential minerals and is also low in sugar.
We are very much an artisan producer: our product doesn’t have a complex food chain as the milk comes straight from the parlour to the yoghurt room, and our straining process isn’t mechanised. We use over 3 litres of milk to make 1 kilo of yoghurt. We’re yet to come across any other company in the UK who makes yoghurt this way.
What’s inspired you recently?
Dan’s reading The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferris and he’s constantly quoting from it. Personally, I was very impressed by one of our bulls eating a giant beetroot in one go.