Human Breast Milk Cheese: Worst Idea Ever? Or a Protein Whose Time Has Come?

Pretty much the minute that New York City chef Daniel Angerer decided that he was going to make cheese from his wife's leftover breast milk, the internets have been going nutsy-cuckoo for the story. There have been wild rumors (like the one about him selling the cheese at his restaurant, Klee Brasserie, which isn't true at all), rampant speculation (mostly about whether or not doing such a thing is a good idea in the first place, some about why chefs haven't thought of this before, a lot about other people's experiences with making things--like pancakes and ice cream--out of breast milk, and even a question of whether breast milk cheese--because it is considered parve, neither dairy or meat for kosher purposes--could be used to make kosher cheeseburgers), calls from the health department (which was chasing the rumor that he was selling human cheese on the menu) informing him that he could not serve mommy brie to the public. And Angerer (along with his wife, Lori Mason, who supplied the raw materials) has all of a sudden found himself in the middle of a food-media firestorm--all because he made a food product out of something biologically made to be food.

Of all the things that humans eat, there are only two or three existing in nature made by nature just to be food. There's breast milk (of all varieties). There's honey. And there are...probably a couple others that I can't think of right now (Twinkies, maybe? Those are excreted by something, right?)

Thus, I don't see the big deal here. This is merely a chef, self-avowedly committed to all things natural and sustainable, making the best use possible out of a resource available to him. As he described it on his blog, "I came about mother's milk when our daughter celebrated her 4th week birthday -- my spouse is feeding our baby with breast milk. We are fortunate to have plenty of pumped mommy's milk on hand and we even freeze a good amount of it - my spouse actually thinks of donating some to an infant milk bank which could help little babies in Haiti and such but for the meantime (the milk bank requires check-ups which takes a little while) our small freezer ran out of space. To throw it out would be like wasting gold."

So Angerer did the reasonable thing. He made cheese out of it. And yes, he offered the recipe (which is why I just love chefs--they're nothing if not thorough). Because it's somewhat complicated (and is basically the same as any other recipe for cheese-making), I'm not going to include it here. But if you're really interested, check out the man's blog. It's certainly worth a gander.

Where it seems he got in trouble, though, was with the very last line of his fromage du femme post, in which he said, "our baby has plenty back-up mother's milk in the freezer so whoever wants to try it is welcome to try it as long as supply lasts." That's what caught the attention of the New York Health Department--who have since banned him not only from selling the cheese (which he wasn't doing), but making it, serving it and even storing it on his restaurant's premises.

This, of course, did not stop one of my favorite food writers from scoring a taste for herself. Gael Greene--legendary former critic for New York magazine, author of two bestselling novels, a sex guide and a memoir: Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess--got ahold of some of the proscribed product and wrote all about the experience.

You can check out her review of the stuff over at the Daily Beast, but in the meantime, how 'bout a couple pictures of the final product?

Photo from

Photo from

I don't know, but it sure looks like food to me. And while I would absolutely prefer a nice, fresh burrata, a wedge of well-aged goat cheese or a bite or two of Bleu du Bocage, I'd still give it a try. If nothing else, it's got to be better than those awful, individually-wrapped slices of orange cheez-product sold to gullible children in lieu of actual cheese.

But I'm more curious about what you folks think. I mean, here we are, smack in the middle of a city obsessed with natural foods, food-miles and sustainability, with an abundant natural resource right under our noses (or at least half of our noses). So what do you say about the chefs and cheesemongers of Seattle starting to milk people? And would you eat human's milk cheese made from a stranger?

comments powered by Disqus