The Ballymaloe Cookery School Dairy lies just behind the main cookery school building and is easily accessed from the conservatory, walking through The Water Garden to The Memory Arboretum.
Every morning our small herd of Kerry and Jersey cows is milked here and provide us with enough milk for the cookery school, the Farm Shop and to make our own cheese and yoghurt. Many of our students on various courses, particularly the 12 Week Certificate, learn the entire process from bringing the cows in with Eileen O'Donovan in the morning to separating the cream from the milk to making their own cheese. Students on our longer courses have the added satisfaction of watching over their cheese as it matures in our dairy cabinets. At Ballymaloe Cookery School we are active proponents of the use of raw milk, with Darina at the forefront of the Campaign For Raw Milk Ireland. We make a certain quota of our daily supply of fresh unpasteurised milk available for purchase from a refrigerated unit in The Garden Shop, in addition to our homemade yoghurt, butter, buttermilk and cream. Many of our customers who suffer from allergies inform us that they can easily tolerate raw milk.
In 1990, Tom Ferguson of Gubbeen Cheese in Schull, Co. Cork took Darina to see a beautiful herd of Kerry cows grazing on a hillside overlooking Roaring Water Bay in West Cork and it sparked a memory. In 30 Years at Ballymaloe, Darina reminisces about the little black Kerry cow her own family had when she was a child, and how it was a tradition in Ireland to have a special cow to provide milk for the household. She resolved to get a Kerry, known for their delicious and nutritious milk, for her own family.
In 2007 the farm building behind the school was converted into a milking parlour and the smallest milking system in Ireland was installed. In our system the cows are milked once a day (in the morning), and the calf stays with the cow during the day. We separate them at night, so there is plenty of milk in the morning, and we find that this system works very well with ample milk for the calf and for our own needs at the school.
Every year at Ballymaloe Cookery School Dairy we run a half-day course called Homemade Butter, Yoghurt and Several Cheeses. It is one of our most popular short courses, demonstrating that many people are keen to learn these somewhat forgotten skills. The course covers all the essentials of how to make butter, yoghurt and cheese right at home in your own kitchen.