Having your own dairy goats or your own milk cow is truly a blessing. It is also a lot of work. We no longer have our goats, but we still have two grass fed jersey milk cows. One of them just has calves nursing off of her. The other one we milk once a day. When my son was the milker it was very easy on my husband and I. He could milk her out in about four mintues. He is a super milker. We always wanted to enter him in a milking contest. He has very strong hands and forearms. It takes my husband anywhere from twenty minutes to forty-five minutes to milk her out. As I blogged about on a Count Your Blessing Monday, we now have a milk machine that we are using. It still takes time to set it up and then tear it down and clean it. We have to be here every evening to do this. We miss out on some things because of this, but it was a path we chose and we don't complain or at least try not to. It also becomes a task of creativity to keep up with the milk. Now remember, we are only milking once a day. If we were milking twice a day, we would probably have to deal with five to six gallons of milk a day.
When the cow first freshens we give plenty of milk to the calf, plus we usually buy another one or two day old calves to feed the milk to. We did that this year. Our two cows each had a calf and we bought two others. Then when you start to wean the calves we usually get pigs and they get their fair share in the beginning and then that plus any extra by the end of their time. Not too long after we send the pigs to the butcher, we dry our cows off to calve the next year. Now mind you all of this is an "ideal year". =) Then there are years like this year. We have not gotten the cows bred yet (should have been done around July). We have not gotten our pigs yet and so we have a surplus of milk. This week I was busy canning tomatoes. So making cheese or butter were hard activities to squeeze in. In fact I made a two gallon batch of ricotta and that is all. Do you understand what that means? This morning when I went to the milk fridge, there were seventeen gallons of milk. There were three more gallons out in my egg fridge. Plus, we have a half of a gallon in the house fridge. Yup.... you got it....Twenty and a half gallons of milk and no room to put tonights milk. So, today was home dairy day. =)
Here is a gallon of milk that I took out of the fridge. Can you see the cream on top? If you click on any of these pictures, they should show you a larger version. This is a gallon of Buttercup's milk. I call her "Cuppy". One of my favorite things is "Cuppy Cream". Her cream is very thick and tastes like ice cream. After I am all done skimming the cream off, I get to lick the ladle. That is my treat. I guess all the magazine shots they clean up their mess. My drips are there for all to see. =)
Here is a picture looking inside the jar. It is hard to tell just how thick and creamy it is.
If you look at these next two pictures, you can see how it mounds up and above the ladle. It is almost solid and will really pile up high. I have found the easiest thing for me to use to skim the cream off is a gravy ladle. It gets up under the shoulders of the jar and I can get most of the cream off.
I put all of the cream I skimmed off into the bowl of my DLX mixer. If you click on this picture, you can actually see places where the cream is up in a mound above the surface.
I then put the bowl on my DLX and put on the mixer piece and the scraper and turn it on between low and medium. I can then walk away. We have done butter in many ways. I do have a butter churn that you can turn the handle and wooden paddles go around. This takes quite a while and the handle you turn is a very small revolution and you feel like your arm is going to fall off. =) I have also put it in canning jars and shaken it into butter. The DLX is a tool I choose to use on the homestead to help me get things done. A hand maiden so to speak. It is a good thing to have a large family if you are going to do things the old fashioned way. Many hands make light the work. I keep my ear tuned to the DLX sounds. At first it is just an easy motor sound that is smooth. As if you were mixing cake batter. I do check on it occasionally. It usually doubles in size as it works its way to the whipped cream stage which is one step before butter. Then all of a sudden you will hear a splashing sound.
This is what you will see when you got to look. I love it that the butter works its way up the mixer paddle. It helps it work out more buttermilk. I take the whole bowl off the DLX with the paddle and scraper still inside. I then drain off the buttermilk. It is not like the cultured buttermilk you buy in the store. It is sweet and good.
I then put a canning ring in the bottom of my butter bowl. This is a very shallow bowl and it works well for when I work the rest of the buttermilk out of the butter. You have to tip the bowl slightly so that as you fold the butter over, the buttermilk runs down and away from the butter. The canning jar ring is to keep the little strainer I use above the surface of the bowl so that the buttermilk drains away from the butter.
Here is the little strainer I use to drain the butter.
I ended up using five gallons of the skimmed milk to make ricotta which you see draining below.
This is not true ricotta, but it works just as well. True ricotta is made from the whey of mozarella cheese. Ricotta is very easy to make at home and can be made with store bought milk. I usually make it with 2 gallons. Heat the milk to between 140 and 145 degrees. Then start with about 1/4 cup of raw apple cider vinegar (pasteurized will work). You need some sort of acid to separate the curds and whey. You can use vinegar or rennet. If you want a bit different taste, you can use lemon juice. Add the vinegar and start stirring it in. You are looking for the curds to totally separate from the whey. The whey will be a very distinct clear yellowish liquid. You will start to see curds right away. At this stage they don't really look like what you would call curds. They are a stretchy sort of gooey consistency. If there is not total separation add another dollop of vinegar and stir. Stir really well, because you want to use the least amount possible of the vinegar to keep it from being too vinegary tasting. Keep adding dollops and then stirring until you see that the curds have sunk and you see the clear yellowish whey. Then you can play the pun game. Someone asks what it is, and you say whey. They say No Whey. =) There are lots of whey puns...believe me, I think I have heard them all being married to a punny man. Then drain off the whey. It really is nutritious and you can use it to lacto ferment veggies or you can feed it to your animals. Let the curds drain well. I turn them often. After they seem well drained, I put them in a bowl and add salt. I really don't know how much, but I will say around a teaspoon. I work that in with my hands. At this point, you can use it, or you can freeze it for later. It is very versatile though. Many times besides the salt I will add, garlic, pepper and Italians herbs. I mix it all through with my hand. It makes an excellent spread to eat on crackers or to put on celery. You can use it seasoned like this or plain in lasagna or baked spaghetti or I have even added it to spaghetti that I have in the crock pot. Or instead of making it Italiain, you can also add honey or a natural type sugar and make a cheese filling for danish or spread it on toast or over cinnamon rolls. I am sure there are other uses, but these are some that we have used. It can also be fed to dogs or cats. If you feed them too much milk they tend to get really loose in their bowels. They do not get that way with this cheese.
I also have a gallon of skimmed milk setting to make keifer. I hope you enjoyed your tour of our home dairy. If you have questions feel free to ask and if you have suggestions feel free to make those as well.