Yes, really, it exists! I was reading through a copy of that august magazine, Dairy Industries International Jan 2013 and found an article about camel cheese culture from Hansens. Apparently, Hansens (the starter culture and rennet people) and a Kenyan company have started a project aiming to improve the living conditions of small scale camel owners. I did not know that there were camels in Kenya but was interested to read on about making cheese from camel’s milk.
Hansens have been collaborating with rural camel farmers in Kenya and Somalia to help them develop camel cheese recipes, to be given away pro bono to the camel community in Africa and the Middle East. The aim to is to produce tasty, marketable products and production manuals.
This piqued my interest, so I did a bit of googling and discovered that camel milk tastes slightly more salty than cows’ milk and contains three times the amount of vitamin C and up to 10 times the iron content. I discovered that a camel typically produces around five litres of milk a day and costs about US $1 per litre on African markets.
I also learned, however, that because there is around 10% lower solids in camel milk compared with cow’s milk, it is hard to get a good set and therefore, a lower yield is achieved, making it expensive to produce. The Hansen collaboration says that they have developed a camel chymosin i.e. a camel derived form of rennet that does achieve a good clot or set, therefore increasing the yield.