1 Jun 2022

Choose Real Maine Dairy Products

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What’s your favorite part about Maine dairy? Milk? Ice cream? Cheese? Yogurt? Beautiful farmland and open spaces? Real Maine invites you to celebrate Maine Dairy Month in June. Discover Maine dairy products, and thank Maine farmers and businesses proudly ensuring Maine dairy is available year-round! Follow these tips for ways to find and choose Maine dairy.

When it comes to Maine dairy, it’s never hard to find.

Local milk and dairy products are­­ some of the easiest-to-find foods in Maine. Always in season, you can find it in grocery stores, like Hannaford’s, farm stores, ice cream parlors, cheese shops, and farmers’ markets. Whether Maine milk leaves the farm for processing or is sold at the farm, it may take different forms, and sells under many brands.

Is this milk from Maine?

When it comes to milk, how do you know if you are getting Maine milk, besides buying it direct from the farm? It is easy when you check the plant code on the top of the jug or carton. Even “store brands” are often Maine milk. All milk bottled in Maine has a code that starts with the number 23. The second two numbers identify the bottling plant. In Maine, those processing plants are:

Look for the plant code 23-XX on jugs and cartons to ensure your milk was bottled in Maine.

Maine dairy products are as varied as the farms from which they come.

Maine has many organic dairies, but does not have an organic processor. Most organic milk is bottled under the Organic Valley label or becomes Stonyfield yogurt. Still, other Maine farms bottle their own milk. And while the majority of Maine milk is sold as fluid milk, it is also found in many other delicious products!

Dairy Delights

High-quality milk makes for top-end ice cream and cheeses, and Maine has some of the best. From famous ice cream chains like Gifford’s to independent scoop shops making small batches, ice cream trucks, or frozen custard and ice cream made at Canty Cow Creamery, you could spend your entire summer attempting to taste all the sweet deliciousness made with Maine milk and cream. But what a fun challenge, eh? You can get started on Real Maine’s Ice Cream Trail!

Likewise, the same goes for cheese. Maine has large cheesemakers, like Pineland Farms which sell their products in your local grocery store. Or you can make an adventure of finding cheese shops and farmer’s markets. The Maine Cheese Guild’s Cheese Map is a great resource. Along the way, you’ll discover that the variety and quality of cheeses Maine has to offer are tremendous. Next time you’re at an ice cream shop or buying some local-made cheese, ask where their milk came from. It can be a great conversation starter, and will help you learn more about local foods and businesses.

Doug and Heather Donahue of Balfour Farm with some of their dairy cows. The Donahues make cheese and sell it at their on-farm store, The Little Cheese Shop.

And don’t forget Maine-made butter and yogurt and even kefir! We’ve got it all here in Maine when it comes to dairy, and it’s never hard to find.