This is Sam. He’s the latest in a long line to farm here in the Yorkshire Dales. Not one to rest on his laurels, or ride on the strong reputation of the family farm, Sam set about taking dairy in a different direction with Hesper Farm Skyr.
You might have seen the cow on our pots and wondered a bit about her. Allow us to introduce you to Baby, she’s practically part of the family here at Hesper Farm. Sam bought Baby at auction, when she was just a calf and he was just 14. She looked different to the other calves in the sale because of her distinctive markings. She’s one of life’s individuals; she does her own thing and there’s no persuading her otherwise.
Baby is what we’re all about. We’re proud to be going our own (naturally) sweet way and being the UK’s first and only farm to bring you skyr. We don’t follow the herd.
WHAT IS SKYR? (PRONOUNCED SKEER)
Sam took himself off to Reykjavik, looking for dairy’s Next Big Thing. He found it in the form of delicious Icelandic skyr. It’s a bit like yogurt, only naturally fat-free, containing next to no sugar and naturally full of goodness.
It turns out the future of dairy has in fact been around since the 9th century. First made in Viking times, super-nutritious, virtuously velvety skyr has been a staple across Scandinavia and Iceland ever since.
Skyr is made by incubating skimmed milk with live active cultures. The water contained in the milk – the whey – is then strained away. Per pot, we use about four times as much milk as an equivalent pot of traditional plain yogurt meaning it’s incredibly thick and beautifully creamy. Each pot of our skyr is a powerhouse, packing punch after punch of goodness. Per equivalent pot of typical plain yogurt, there’s about three times as much protein in skyr and three times more calcium.
The good news doesn’t stop there; there’s not a lot of sugar in our skyr (what sweetness there is, it’s all natural). The ingredients are simple and we don’t add anything artificial. The results are remarkably good and remarkably good for you.
Set off the beaten track, in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, Hesper Farm is home to our pedigree Holstein Friesians – The Aireburn Herd. They are part of our proud dairy tradition that goes back generations.
Our award-winning herd has twice won the North of England Premier Herd competition and reached the top six of The National Herd Competition. It is this passion for farming, for cows and for quality that stands Hesper Farm so well. With 180 cows milking at any one time, each known by her own name not a number, it’s no exaggeration to say they are all valued and respected. Our cows enjoy a good life here in the dales, outdoors in tune with the seasons, to make sure they are healthy and happy.
Once pasteurised, our cows’ milk is made into skyr, onsite in our shiny new purpose-built dairy.
(AND A BIG UP FOR YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS!)
Sam comes from a long line of determined farm folk, so few doubted him when he set off for Iceland saying he’d return with a remarkable new dairy product (and maybe a few new Nordic jumpers). And so he left for the land of the Vikings, hoping to return with something legendary. Sam knocked on some doors until he met Thorarinn, a renowned master of skyr. Thorarinn makes skyr that sells like crazy across Iceland. Luckily for Sam, Thorarinn liked his style and set about teaching him the age-old artisan skyr techniques.
To make the very best traditional skyr, as we do here at Hesper Farm, takes us till the cows come home. It’s a very simple, yet labour-intensive, 24-hour process with minimal machinery. It takes about three times as long as yogurt to make and it cannot be rushed. We think our skyr is well worth the wait.
We’re proud to be the only British farm making authentic skyr, and to have had the thumbs up from Thorarinn. We have taken our time to learn from the best and Thorarinn has visited the farm, where we use our own milk and make the skyr onsite, to ensure we’re doing Iceland’s food heritage proud.
He sampled a few Yorkshire puddings while he was over here – we’re happy to say he’s now also an ambassador for England’s great food heritage too!