Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One Gallon of Raw Milk...

          Last week marked the beginning of our own personal dairy revolution. Heidi and I have always had something of a love-affair with dairy products. Cheese, butter, ice-cream and yogurt are all way up there on our list of favorite foods. This is not going to be a post debating the virtues and risks of raw milk consumption. There is plenty of info on the web concerning raw milk that is written by people with far better credentials then I. Realmilk.com is one great resource for info on this subject. All I will say is that knowing the farmer, the farm and the actual cows that our milk comes from has increased our appreciation of dairy products in ways we never thought possible. The product is natural, it's healthy, an actual person is accountable for its quality and above all, it is unbelievably delicious. I can also say that some amount of lactose intolerance may not be an issue with raw milk. Our raw milk farmer is a living testament to this.
        What I want to focus on today is the amazing possibilities contained within a single gallon of raw milk. What really precipitated our experimentation was actually one of the disadvantages of raw milk. Since raw milk has not been pasteurized it has a shorter shelf-life than store bought milk. Seven to ten days is generally a good range to count on provided you keep the milk as cold as possible from the moment of milking. Our milk provider distributes milk by the gallon. Since neither of us drink copious amounts of plain milk, we needed to find other methods to consume or preserve our precious resource before the week was up. We have been making yogurt regularly for over a year now and we have no problem devouring a quart of the stuff each week. The only difference in making raw milk yogurt is that you do not heat the milk above the ideal culture temp (110 degrees) in order to preserve the beneficial properties of the milk. You may heat it to the point of pasteurization if you wish to extend the life and/or reculture the next batch, you will simply lose some of the benefits (and risks) of raw milk. Lisa Lynn of the Self Sufficient HomeAcre blog recently made a great post about Making Raw Yogurt.
A ball of mozzarella ready for the freezer or pizza!
          So one quart went to making a delicious raw yogurt. We use about a quart of plain milk for our daily use in breakfast cereal, coffee, cooking etc. What to do with the other half-gallon? How about cheese? We looked for the most straight forward recipe and found an easy one for mozzarella. Although traditionally mozzarella was made from cultured water buffalo milk, most mozzarella today is made from cows milk. You can make a great quick mozzarella without using a culture. We used this recipe from the New England Cheese Making Supply Company. For me, cheese making is like going back to high school chemistry class except that the results are edible and there's no lab grade to stress out about. There are some amazing things that happen in a pot of milk when you add heat and something acidic. Seeing the curds separate from the whey and then making those curds into a crazy stretchy substance that is ultimately a delectable, melty pizza topping is a truly awesome experience. The only problem with making cheese is that you only get a baseball sized hunk out of a half-gallon and what remains is a greenish liquid by-product called whey. It feels like a complete waste of precious milk. But don't worry, a little searching turns up all kinds of things you can do with whey. For one thing, you can make more cheese! Ricotta is made from leftover whey. By heating the whey to a higher temperature and adding a bit more acid (citric acid or vinegar) the whey releases a fine flaky curd that can be strained to make ricotta.
Ricotta draining in a soft cheese basket

        At this point we had a quart of milk, yogurt, mozzarella, ricotta and whey, but we weren't finished yet. We just so happen to be experimenting in fermenting our own sour kraut. It turns out that whey makes an excellent starter by encouraging the growth of good lactobacillious bacteria which is key to successful fermentation. You can learn all about fermented products and procedures at the Wild Fermentation website. Whey also makes a great substitute for the liquid in bread recipes since it boosts the protein content and helps it form a nice brown crust. We also used left over whey to soak and cook beans, which makes them more digestible and adds great flavor. We saved the bean cooking liquid in the freezer to make soup stock later on. There are even more uses for whey listed on the Prairie Homestead website

Whey, the bi-product of cheese making.

Using whey as a fermentation starter for sour kraut.


           So just to recap here. With a single gallon of milk in one week we made: 1 quart of yogurt, 1/3lb of Mozzarella cheese, 1 cup of ricotta cheese, started a batch of sour kraut, made three loaves of bread, used a quart of whey to cook beans and make soup stock and we still had a quart of milk leftover for daily use! Pretty cool, right?

Just a few uses of raw milk from left to right: whey, ricotta, mozzarella, yogurt, bread and sour kraut.

This Post Shared on:

Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays
Wildcrafting Wednesday 
The HomeAcre Hop


Lisa Lynn said...

Awesome post! Thanks for linking to my yogurt post. :)

I'm so glad that you found a source for raw milk and that you are putting it to such good use. Whey to go! ;-)

I would love to have you share this on Wildcrafting Wednesday today...

And you know where to find me for The HomeAcre Hop tonight or tomorrow!

julesinvt said...

C&H - Having been raised on a dairy farm for much of my childhood, raw milk is near and dear to my heart. Staight up, freezing cold out of the bulk tank on a hot summer's day...there was nothing better!

I really believe that being exposed to all of those "healthy" bacteria has protected me from so many "stomach bugs" over the years.

I love all of the ideas in your post. Only wish I could be there to sample all of them. Love you, Mom

Wild Blue said...

Thanks for the comment Mom! I think the best part is the taste. It's so creamy and amazing, it brings me back to the time I spent on the Lapierre's farm as a kid. I am glad there are lots of health benefits too, because it sure is tasty!

Lisa Lynn said...

Love it! Thanks so much for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you next time at:

Danielle @ Poor and Gluten Free said...

Great post! I don't have access to raw milk, but I do get some mileage out of a jug of organic milk - salted paneer, yogurt and thick drained yogurt are my go-to ways to use up a jug.

Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday and hope to see you back this week :)

Homestead Dad said...

Great post, as a family with four kids, one of whom would drink nothing but "hot cocoa"(warmed raw milk with a little cocoa powder)if we let him, we go through three to four gallons a week. Now, with all of your ideas, if we have any left over I know what to do with it. How long is the process to make Mozza? Thanks for the ideas.

Colin D said...

Mozzarella is really easy! Many of the recipes are actually called 30min Mozzarella although the first time will likely take a bit longer. All you need is citric acid and rennet. We were able to find both at our local health food store.