Fun With Milk—Making Butter and Cheese

I recently purchase a herd share from a local farmer.  Here in Colorado, that’s how raw milk can change hands.  The sale of raw milk is illegal, but if I buy a herd share, then pay my monthly “boarding” fees, I get raw milk from my “share” of the herd.  It must take lawmakers a lot of time to come up with something that convoluted, but hey, I’m getting my milk.  From happy cows.  With names.  I’m going up to their farm to meet them soon.

I’m doing this nutty exercise for one reason—to have milk from cows who have a good life.  I personally can’t with good conscience support factory farming of any kind anymore.  Since we’re vegetarians and my chickens supply the eggs, that leaves the dairy industry.  I’m not a milk drinker, but man oh man I do love my butter and cheese.

Now I’ve got all this milk and cream.  I’ve been reading recipes, doing my research.  Here’s the results.

First, I made butter.  I had no idea how easy it was!

One quart of cream.  Yum. Dump into the food processor.

One quart of cream. Yum. Dump into the food processor.

Whizz it around a while.  Then it looks like this.

Whizz it around a while. Then it looks like this.  The liquid is buttermilk.  I made cornbread with that.

Take the gorgeous, golden solids and mush them around in water until it runs clear.  Add salt.

Take the gorgeous, golden solids and “wash” them in water to remove the last of the buttermilk. Add salt.

And that, my friends, is how butter is made.

And that, my friends, is how butter is made.

Glowing with the confidence that comes with successful butter making, I moved on to making cheese.  Not as easy as butter.  A trip to the thrift stores and a dip into Home Depot and I had all the materials for a cheese press.  I made that first, then got down to work making some cheese!

How can you not love those jars?  Two gallons of beautiful milk!

How can you not love those jars? Two gallons of beautiful milk!

The milk is slowly heated to 90°.  Add starter and rennet.  Then wait.  I stared at this pot for a LONG time.

The milk is slowly heated to 90°. Add starter and rennet. Then wait. I stared at this pot for a LONG time.

This is called a "clean break", when the curds are set.  Now it's ready to be sliced into 1/4" pieces in the pot.

This is called a “clean break”, when the curds are set. Now it’s ready to be sliced into 1/4″ pieces in the pot.

As you can see, I wasn't too good getting the pieces the right size.  But then you pour off the whey and then cook the curd a little longer.

Stir and cook a little more.  The curds want to glob back together.  Now it’s time to pour off the whey and add salt.

The curds are drained, wrapped in butter muslin and into the press they go!   A total of 35 pounds of bricks were added for about 6 hours.

The curds are drained, wrapped in butter muslin and into the press they go! A total of 35 pounds of bricks were added for about 6 hours. (Please excuse my messy counter…)

OMG.  It's working!  This was after about two hours.

OMG. It’s working! This was after about two hours.

And this, at 11pm, was the finished product!

And this, at 11pm, was the finished product!  I love the little dimples 🙂

Anticipation for the first bite!

Anticipation for the first bite!

It's good!

Success!  It’s good!

It took a whole day (including making the press), but it was a lot of fun.  The cheese is tasty, maybe a bit bland.  I’d definitely add some chipotle peppers next time.  And there will be a next time.

There was a ton of whey left over.  At the last minute I used that to make some ricotta.  It only made about a cup but it’s good too! Even after making the ricotta there was still a gallon of whey left.  What to do with all of that?  Nothing goes to waste—Mr. Doink is loving the extra topping on his meals these days 🙂

My go-to guide was the book Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Homemade Cheeses by Ricki Carroll. (Thanks for the book recommendation, Tia!) I built the press from a plan at Fias Co Farm.

**Shared at Simple SaturdaysFabulous Friday(mis)Adventures MondayThank Goodness It’s MondayFrom The Farm and HomeAcre Hop**

Comments

  1. Thank you for this post! I helped make butter once and it was fun. I even got to drink the leftover buttermilk which was delicious. Cheese, however, has been a mystery to me, Not anymore! I like how you made good things with the leftovers. Doink is a lucky pig. 🙂

  2. How fabulous is that?!!!! You are so industrious! Not only venturing to make your own dairy products, but fashioning the press too! So impressive!
    So happy that you have made the decision to support responsible farms, and that you have them close at hand. That’s gotta feel good.
    Enjoy!
    daisy recently posted…Blueberry Cobbler

  3. Wow! I am seriously impressed! Even your pics made my mouth water. I absolutely love both butter and cheese – my undoing in terms of diet (well those combined with fresh Italian pasta oh yes and the occasional pastry with vanilla cream).

    Butter looks very easy and cheese more complicated but you’ve made me think it’s doable – thank you! I’ve been thinking of getting some goats for a while now, but if I could find a farmer to organise the same kind of deal you have, that would be perfect.

    I take my hat off to you, Joan – you are so innovative.
    Cath recently posted…Apr 4, Perfect hard boiled eggs the easy way.

  4. This is such an inspiring post, and I agree with the previous comment that you are very industrious. Makes me think I should start looking around for a farm to get milk from. I do love butter and cheese.
    Kristin recently posted…Three shoots

  5. Very cool, Joan! I love that nothing went to waste. That’s the way it should be!

  6. Use the whey to ferment veggies! Great source of probiotics!

  7. The cheese looks wonderful!
    Thanks for sharing at the HomeAcre Hop!
    Sandra recently posted…The HomeAcre Hop #116

  8. You sure are being industrious!!! I understand getting the good milk… oh, how we miss the raw milk from the amish farmers… too far to go and too expensive around here. Your cheese looks wonderful. 🙂
    Gentle Joy recently posted…Small Garden-Part 6-Paths

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