In the last few years dairy has been getting a bad rap. Celebs and health food gurus proclaim dairy is not good for you and wear their plant-based credentials as a badge of honour.
The research on dairy is constantly going back and forth, with theories in favour of dairy or against it. I respect anyone's decision to stop drinking and eating dairy for whatever reason (health or ethical), but I am against virtue signalling and psychological manipulation that comes from certain quarters of the so called clean eaters.
The plant-based business is exploding with choices, and kudos to everyone who makes it happen.
Yet the dairy farming has been part of agriculture for more than 7,000 years, and won't disappear any time soon. If anything, the selection of dairy products is expanding.
I'm particularly impressed with the latest additions from around the world, and wanted to show some of the best new dairy products on the market.
Danone Lassi (inspired by India) (£1.50 in Ocado) is a sweet and refreshing drink. It's not as sour as kefir. Quite high in sugar - 19.8g per pot. Made with skimmed milk, water, sugar (5%), cream, natural flavouring and live cultures, it tastes lovely, but I do wish there was less sugar.
In fact my favourite lassi is a salty variety.
Danone Ayran (inspired by Turkey) (£1.50 in Ocado) is a savoury fermented milk drink. Perfect for hot weather, it is refreshing, with a clean taste. It is like a mix of yogurt and buttermilk, with a mild level of acidity.
It is made with milk, water, cream, salt, live cultures, and that's it. There is a subtle hint of salt, which gives it a unique flavour. Add a sprig of mint, or a slice of lemon, for a tasty aperitif on a hot summer day. You can enjoy it with any meal.
88kcal and 7.3g of sugar per 250ml pot.
And my top favourite from The Danone of the world range is Straggisto (inspired by Greece) (£1 in Ocado). It is a wonderfully creamy thick yogurt. It's a mix of milk, cream and live cultures. 130kcal per 140g pot.
Very moreish, it is great on its own, or with a drizzle of dark Greek honey.
It is perfect for breakfast, or as an afternoon treat. A little gem.
I believe there are other products in the Danone of the World range, but I haven't tried them.
Granarolo Formaggio Croccante Cotto al Forno (96p in Waitrose) or Oven Baked Cheese Snack - are crispy bites of mature hard cheese for snacking and eating in salads, and soups.
Made with 100% Italian aged cheese, this snack has a high protein content - 11g per 24g bag.
Nutritional values: 572kcal per 100g or 137kcal per bag
These snacks are gluten free, lactose free, vegetarian.
Granarolo Oven Baked Cheese Snack Pizza (96p in Waitrose) is made with 100% Italian aged cheese. It's gluten free, lactose free and vegetarian, great for snacking, in salads and soups.
These crunchy cheese snacks are so good, it's hard to stop at one or two pieces.
A small 24g bag comes at 140.6kcal. High protein content - 11g per bag.
I opened a small bag just to sample it, and haven't even noticed that I ate the cheese bites all on my own, oups.
Another Italian brand which produces quality dairy products is Galbani. Its mozzarella, ricotta, mascarpone and other cheeses are a big part of the Italian diet. I often buy Galbani products, and was pleased to see the latest addition to its range - Galbani Freschetto Classico with olive oil (found in Waitrose recently for £1.50).
This medium fat soft cheese with olive oil is delicious. It's great on crackers or fresh crusty bread, and will be lovely added to any cheese pasta sauce. This soft cheese is actually produced in France, which was a surprise, as I thought all Galbani products were Italian.
Nutritional values: 280kcal per 100g
Nestle La Laitiѐre le Petit Pot de Crѐme Saveur Pistache (4 pots x 100g at £2.80 in Waitrose) is a baked milk dessert with eggs and pistachio flavour. Made in France.
Nutritional info: 184kcal per portion.
Very delicate, and not too sweet, lovely flavour.
Jazz it up with roasted and crushed pistachios and serve as a dessert for a posh dinner.
Nestle La Laitière Crème aux Ouefs Saveur Vanille - Baked milk dessert with egg and vanilla flavour (£2.80 in Waitrose)- is made from whole milk, cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla.
Nutritional information: 174kcal and 17g of sugar per 100g pot.
Creamy, rich and delicate in texture, it tastes like creme brûlèe without the sugar crust.
Kefir is very popular in Russia and many other Eastern European countries, and has been enjoyed around the world for over two thousand years. but until recently it was hardly known here, in the UK. In the last couple of years though it is gaining the recognition it deserves.
The Collective Great Dairy offers three flavours of kefir. Mango'n'turmeric Kefir (£2.50 in Sainsbury's) is a cultured milk drink, with 13 different strains of live cultures. It is quite similar to a mango lassi - sweet and refreshing, with a mild note of turmeric which also adds a beautiful colour.
Nutritional info: 129kcl and 15.2g of sugar per serve (250ml)
It is a source of protein, calcium, vitamins B2 and B12.
One more kefir which deserves a special mention is Bio-tiful Dairy Kefir/Honey & Mint.
I have already written about this brand in the past - see my posts Cultured milk drinks from Bio-tiful dairy and New Food discoveries (July 2017).
Bio-tiful Dairy Ltd uses authentic natural recipes to create an excellent range of organic cultured milk drinks.
I often buy the produce of Bio-tiful Dairy Ltd, and can say that it is excellent. The quality of ingredients and sustainable production process speak for themselves.
Bio-tiful Kefir Honey & Mint (£1.60 in Sainsbury's) is a pure delight. Mildly sweet, with a crisp note of mint, it is very tasty and refreshing. I have tried most flavours of Bio-tiful kefir and smoothies, and I think I found my new favourite.
Nutritional values: 159kcal and 14.8g of sugar per 250ml bottle. It's a good source of vitamins B2 and B12, calcium, phosphorus and zinc.
I would also love to try a mint kefir with salt, as a base for summer soups.
And that's it, my top ten dairy discoveries of the summer.
Is there a dairy product you have come across recently that you love and would recommend?