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Fun With Dairy

Since moving to my new location, I have gained access to something I’ve wanted for a long time: fresh milk.  It is such a privilege to drink this milk.  Once a week I go and pick up it up directly from the farm, an entire milking at a time.  A cow can produce up to 9 liters a milking (i.e. twice a day), and that’s usually what we get.  The milk still contains the full cream, which floats to the top once it’s been let sit for a little while.  You can either stir the milk up, or skim off the cream for other uses.  I have mostly been stirring the cream back into the milk and drinking rich, whole milk.  It makes great yogurt and the cream separates to the top making a nice layer of solid cream…mmmm!

So far all I’ve been doing with this milk is drinking it and turning it into yogurt.  But this week I tried two new options: butter & cheese.

First, the cheese isn’t really cheese, it’s yogurt cheese – essentially pressed yogurt.  I came across how to make it while doing some research on yogurt in general.  Very simply, you take your yogurt and put it in cheese cloth, then wrap it up and hang it for a number of hours.  The whey drips out (which the dogs were more than happy to consume) and what is left is a fresh, tart curd similar to a fresh cheese.

I ate some tonight  with buckwheat honey drizzled overtop, and it was quite yummy.   I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with the rest, however.  Apparently you can mix in various herbs and treat it like cream cheese.  One litre of yogurt only yielded a little more than a cup of this cheese, so it’s probably not something I’ll make often.  But what a lovely treat.

Last night I tried making butter for the first time.  It was extremely simple (read this for more detail).  I should have taken photos but I forgot.  Go to this site for some great photos.  I used my food processor instead of a jar but I actually used to make butter from the little creamers at coffee shops when I was a kid, just by shaking them.  So I imagine the jar method works just fine.  You can indeed actually feel the butter separate when you do it by hand, so it might be worth the effort the first time, just to acquaint yourself with the process (sadly the little creamers no longer turn into butter, what that means about what’s in them I can only guess…)

I put the freshly skimmed cream in my Cuisinart with the plastic blade in place, and pressed ‘on.’  Two minutes later I had butter!

Ok, so there’s a bit more labour involved than just that as you then have to rinse the butter.  It’s important to get all the milk out or the butter will go rancid very quickly. To do this you pour off the initial buttermilk (which I have set aside for baking) and then pour cold water back into the Cuisinart and spin for 20 or so seconds.  Drain, repeat.  Once the water starts running pretty clear (about 3-4 rinses in the machine) you scoop out the butter and put it in a bowl.  Add more water and press to the side of the bowl with a spatula, to squeeze out any last buttermilk.

There will apparently always be some milk left in the butter so it needs to be refrigerated or frozen until used, to keep fresh.  You can mix in some vegetable oil in order to keep it smooth for spreading.  We didn’t this time as I want to see if this fresh butter agrees better with my stomach than store-bought butter.  I have noticed that my digestive system is liking this milk a lot better, so I am going to see if I can use it to replace all my dairy requirements.  A whole milking’s worth of cream didn’t yield a lot of butter, however, so I expect I’ll still need to buy some – mostly for baking – at least until I have my own cow (not happening anytime soon!).

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2 Responses

  1. This post inspires me to find my own local milk!!

  2. Yes, local milk is awesome! Very hard to find, but well worth searching out. Good luck!

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