Tesfa Farms are supplying the milk from their water buffalo dairy farm to Uno Gelato in Vancouver. File photo

B.C. buffalo dairy farm ‘buffs up’ gelato

Treats made with milk from water buffalos are healthier, supplier says

The supplier of water buffalo milk to a Vancouver gelato maker says when they first went into business together, it was mostly about the taste.

Later on, Brad Bennik said, it also became about the health benefits.

Bennik and business partner Matt Van Rookhuyzen, who operate Tesfa Farms in the Fraser Valley, are supplying the milk from their water buffalo dairy farm to Uno Gelato in Vancouver, which has just announced a new “Buffalo Lemon” gelato flavour.

In gelato, buffalo milk makes for a “smooth, creamy, rich consistency” said Uno Gelato’s James Coleridge.

“It creates a wonderful texture for gelato and is a great compliment to our assortment of dairy and non-dairy offerings,” said Coleridge, who was named International Gelato Master of the Year in 2014 by the International Fair of Artisan Gelato (MIG), won the Gelato World Tour North America the same year, and was the double gold winner at the 2012 Florence Italy Gelato Festival.

Water buffalo milk doesn’t contain a protein found in cow’s milk that many people are allergic to, and has lower cholesterol, higher calcium and antioxidant content.

In Italy, it’s used to make buffalo milk mozzarella, as a healthier alternative to cow’s milk, and is similar to goat’s and sheep’s milk.

Right now, the buffalo-based gelato is only available at the Vancouver location.

“It’s pretty small volume,” Bennik said.

Down the road, he thinks it could be sold at farmer’s markets.

Bennik, a Fort Langley resident, believes he is the first farmer in the Lower Mainland to raise a herd of water buffalo for their meat and milk.

He and Van Rookhuyzen own around 60 grass-fed, domesticated Asian water buffalos.

“We sell to restaurants who make their own cheeses and yogurts,” Bennik said.

“It’s been a good ride.”

READ MORE: A home where the buffalo roam

According to the B.C.Water Buffalo Association, benefits of buffalo milk include:

· It is pure white, with a “velvety smoothness and subtle sweetness” and high levels of the natural antioxidant tocopherol.

· It has 58 per cent more calcium than cow’s milk, 40 per cent more protein than cow’s milk, 43 per cent less cholesterol than cow’s milk and is high in CLA or conjugated linoleic acid.

· Both milk and meat products from water buffalo are rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound that has been found to possess many benefits including reducing risks of cancer and diabetes and supporting bone and weight maintenance.

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