Monday, November 01, 2004

All Milks a Stage

Posted by Hello

The different stages of milk. I did leave the milking bucket out of the photo, but from it the milk is strained into the half-gallon jars you see in the back there and refridgerated. Once it is cold the cream line is obvious. I then take a ladle and take the cream off. For butter (in plastic container on far right) the cream is put in an old Daisy churn (middle). It can handle not quite two quarts of cream which makes not quite a pound of butter. When I get it too full it takes forever for the butter to come. I get enough cream for a batch of butter from about two gallons of milk. It takes about 40 minutes on a good day for the butter to come (the kids do most of the churning). Before churning the cream must warm to between 55 and 60 degrees.

Some cream makes ice cream and our little electric ice cream maker is the contraption on the far left. For that some cream, some milk, a little sugar and a touch of vanilla is combined then cooled then put in there for about 20 minutes.

The large stainless steel container is what I make cheese in, which for now is mainly mozzarella and ricotta. There is a smaller stock pot inside the large one forming a double boiler so the milk can be properly heated to ripen and then the curds cooked. Once the curds are cooked and drained, the whey is heated again, very hot & directly, to make ricotta (which means in Italian re-cooked). I skim about 3/4 of the milk in a batch of cheese, a batch is usually 2 gallons (less the cream) of milk, and that makes about a pound and a half of mozzarella and about a pound of ricotta.

And it isn't hard.

Extra skimmed milk is fed to the pigs, and gives a little extra nutrition to the dogs and cats. Extra whey usually goes to the pigs too although the chickens also love it in their waterer. We drink all the milk we want (and the kids have some daily) and we keep ourselves in buttermilk (which is just cultured milk), yogurt (ditto, different cultures), and sour cream (the best variety of cultures).

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