At the end of October we joined a dairy co-op. That means we pay a fee to own a “share” of a dairy cow. In exchange, each share gets a gallon of real milk a week. We have one share.

Now, this costs about twice what milk does in stores. Still, it’s worth it right now for us. I know where the milk is coming from. I know we have a steady supply.

My husband says we’re doing this for the kids. The kids are learning milk doesn’t grow on refrigerator shelves or in the store. The woman who actually has the cows even said they could come help sometimes with the milking.

We can do lots of different things with this milk. Since it has the cream, we can make whipped cream, sour cream, butter (and real buttermilk). I now have a pint jar of real cream. I haven’t tried adding any to recipes yet. However, when skimming the cream today, I made hot chocolate and each mug got a bit. Yumm.

Recently I’ve become uneasy with homogenization. That’s the process where basically milk is ruptured until it is all the same consistency and no longer separates. Cream floats to the top in natural milk. I wish you could get milk that has been pasteurized but not homogenized. However, with huge dairies, that isn’t very practical. Some customers would get more skim and others more cream unless it was kept stirred. This dairy co-op seems a good alternative.

The milk comes in gallon jugs (she’s switching to gallon glass jars, but hasn’t given us one yet). Last night when my husband picked it up, it was still slightly warm from the cow even. I put it carefully in our refrigerator. This afternoon, I took it out and skimmed off about an inch of cream from the milk.

Last week was the first milk I’ve ever skimmed. I didn’t quite know what I was doing. We have a flat serving spoon and I gently scooped some from the top of the jar until it wasn’t as thick coming up. This week, I let it sit longer before skimming and had a definite line I could skim down to the milk. Practice makes perfect. My cream jar is now full, so I’ll use this mixed cream. Now that I have a better idea what I’m doing it will be easier to get just cream off.

Even after skimming off the top cream, the milk is pretty rich. We like it. Recipes that call for milk and butter will use less butter. We just need to gently shake the milk to mix it a bit before using each time.

After searching the internet, I’ve found a good demonstration for making butter. I’d like to make sour cream too. One quick way is to combine buttermilk (one recipe said lemon juice, another vinegar) with cream to make sour cream or you can just leave the covered raw cream out to sour overnight. We’ll try the butter tomorrow. Should be interesting to see if it turns out and how much we end up with.

Yogurt idea: 1-3 tbs yogurt + 1 qt raw milk, leave in oven with light on overnight in glass dish

Book idea: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon


8 Responses

  1. I have a friend who does this, and I have considered it myself. I also have questions about homogenization as well as pasteurization, AND the amount of hormones and antibiotics grocery store milk contains, however I have done nothing yet. Your example motivates me.

  2. Michelle,
    I’m not sure about hormones in the co-op milk. There may be some but I can at least ask what, when they’re given, and why. Plus, we can read the vet records for each cow if we want. In general, the less industrial processing in foods, the better. And I *know*it’s fresh.

  3. The milk we drank when I was growing up was delivered by the milkman and always had cream on top, if you were the first to open the bottle you got a special treat on your cereal!

    I have great success with yogurt by putting it into a thermos to thicken, it works well and uses no energy. Simply heat your milk to 180, add the few tablespoons of yogurt, once well mixed, pour the mixture into a gallon size drinking thermos – it works everytime – by morning you will have yogurt. I am sure that a small cooler would work too.

  4. Martine,
    That sounds good. I may have to try that yogurt trick. Today’s butter didn’t work at all. I think I had too much milk in the cream from when I separated it last week. Oh well, should make yummy mashed potatoes.

  5. When the kids were younger I used to have them make butter on Thanksgiving, it gave them something to do while waiting for turkey, and they usually had to enlist the help of Dad. I would purchase a carton of heavy whipping cream, let it sit out until it was room temperature, then pour the cream into a quart canning jar, screw on the lid and the children would commence to shaking, with the help of Dad adding some muscle, the butter would form in about 10 to 15 minutes, then simply rinse it off, salt it if you wish, and form into whatever shape you wish. The fresh butter along with homemade dinner rolls, I would aways have the kids shape the rolls, so we usually had turkey shaped rolls, pilgrim shaped rolls etc., made for a fun and entertaining treat with dinner.

  6. Oh, with mashed potatoes, I always use buttermilk, it makes the potatoes so delicious!!

  7. Martine,
    It’s hard to have buttermilk if your cream won’t butter. Perhaps next time the cream jar is full we can try again.

  8. Buttermilk is the milk after the butter. It’s a cultured product; you can buy the starter. It’s not just soured milk. I used to make all the yogurt I could eat. It’s so much better for you than store yogurt, since it is all milk. Try kneading your butter a bit more. You may not have worked all the liquid out.

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