Camel milk joins the herd of new ingredients in milkshakes, cheese and ice cream. Laurie tells you where you can find camel milk products.
Exotic camel milk is climbing to the top the menu in coffeehouse classics like cappuccino, latte, and the improbably named Americano (can someone tell me what’s so “stateside” about java with whole milk?). For centuries, milk from the one-humped Arabian camel has been a Bedouin staple, but this is the first time it’s being produced on a large commercial dairy scale, and marketed for secondary use in baked goods and fine chocolates.
Dubai coffee shop Cafe2Go was the first to introduce the cow-alternative, inviting customers to sip specialty camel-milk coffee drinks such as their custom Camel-ccino.
The milk is produced by Emirates Industry for Camel Milk and Products on their desert ranch located just outside Dubai. Thousands of camels call the place home, and their neighborhood is expanding as the company adds livestock to keep up with growing demand for the unusual milk.
Each camel produces about six liters per day. Ranch manager Peter Nagy told CNN that it’s important to keep the animals happy to ensure optimal production. “That’s the whole idea, that’s the whole concept,” he said. “To keep animals quiet, happy. And then, they will produce milk for us.”
Images of well-cared for, smiling (oh yeah, I see a few grins) camels munching carrots after a milkings are so adorable; I’m tempted to belly up to the barista for a Grande Hump Latte. These wholesome-food producing animals are a startling contrast to their corporate mascot cousin: the Americano chain-smoker Joe Camel.
(Also read 6 Reasons Why Camel Milk is Good for You)
The ranch also produces an assortment of camel-milk cheeses and a flavored milk drink called “Camelicious” in flavors such as date and chocolate. The individual grab-n-go beverages are sold through Emirati supermarkets and geared particularly to kids as a healthy alternative to carbonated drinks.
Meanwhile, Al-Nassma chocolatiers are the first in the United Arab Emirates to use camel cream in their line of fine chocolates, citing medicinal benefits and positioning their products as the ultimate choice for Middle Eastern souvenirs. Their website calls their candy the “refined ambassador of Arabia”. More tasteful than the Arabic-dressed-couple-salt-and-pepper-shakers on offer at Dubai airport duty-free.
Both milk producer and candy maker are partly funded by Dubai’s ruling sheikhs, who view the ventures as a means to promote healthy products and Emirati pride. Why not milk the venture and make a profit along the way? The producers and their financial backers aim to grow sales beyond the United Arab Emirates, and are seeking licensure to import their goods to the European Union.
Ice cream made from camel’s milk is already sold in the United Kingdom. The ice cream is positioned as a super food. Compared to cow’s milk, camel milk is lower in fat and has higher levels of iron and B and C vitamins.
It also seems to be passing customer taste tests. The products may have come at the right time, as they combine an emerging awareness of healthy modern eating with a direct connection to a rich cultural past.
“We’re using the camel milk, and our grandfathers used the camel milk, for many years,” said Mutasher Al Badry, of Emirates Industry for Camel Milk and Products. “It’s not new to us, and it was in our culture” he added. “We are converting the culture to commercial.”
Image of nursing camel from Shutterstock