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Oh the Things You Can Do With Dairy!

A photo of MalisaA friend of mine started milking 1 dairy cow and soon was swimming in milk. She called to see if I wanted to “play with it.” I love to experiment with food so I said sure and to drop off 2 gallons. I used 1 gallon for general use and made a soft cheese with the other. I have seen the cheese I made called many different names. A couple weeks ago it was called farmer’s cheese on the Rachel Ray Show and I have also seen it called Queso Blanco. I just call it vinegar cheese since all you have to do is to heat the milk up to 180 degrees, add a cup of vinegar, turn the heat off, let it rest for 10 mins and strain. It is a very soft flavored cheese I like to use in lasagna. I have also made patties with it, rolled them in bread crumbs and eggs and fried them in a little bacon grease.  I used to make the cheese in my food processing class when I taught high school agriculture.

It all went well so the next week I told her I would try another 2 gallons to experiment with. She dropped off 5 gallons. I decided to
try making a hard cheese a couple different ways. I found some Junket tables at the grocery store and got to work. I used buttermilk for my starter. My first run did not set curd. My second run turned into buttermilk. The pigs ate well that week. I have vowed not to share any recipes until I get a successful run of cheese.

I was not going to be deterred the next week and asked for another 5 gallons. She brought over 15 gallons. I now was swimming in milk. I went on-line and ordered true rennet tables from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. I had the express mailed. I had the next 2 runs form well but tasted awful. I gave up on hard cheese and made yogurt successfully and did another run of vinegar cheese. To make yogurt, you will need 1 qt pasteurized milk, 1/3 cup powdered milk, 2 to 4 tablespoons sweetener (optional; I used honey) and ¼ cup fresh plain yogurt for starter. Mix milk with powdered milk and sweetener and heat to 200 degrees for 10 minutes for soft yogurt and 20 for a firmer yogurt. Maintaining temperature is very critical. I ended up with a run of honey flavored cheese product one time due to allowing the temperature to reach 207 degrees. Yuck!  Rapidly cool heated milk to a temperature of 115-118 degrees. Take out a cup of milk and add yogurt to it. Mix gently. Add yogurt to milk mixture. Put yogurt in clean warm containers (I used pint jars) and incubate at 110 degrees (+ or – 5 degrees). Never exceed 115 degrees. There are incubators designed for yogurt making but I used my 18 qt turkey roaster. I added water under the removable metal tray, replaced the tray and lid and kept the temperature dial low enough to maintain 110 degree temperature. It does need a lot of babysitting though. Incubation time runs from 4 to 7 hours. Mine took about 5 hours to cure. I stored mine in the fridge and used it to make smoothies and ate it with granola. I will have share my granola recipe sometime, it is awesome!! My yogurt recipe came from The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Living by Abigail Gehring. I have many great homesteading books. I will try to post a homesteading book review blog in the future. I find each one has its own merits and often find myself using a little from each one.

I made butter once, but haven’t done it in quantity. I put some cream in a pint jar and shook it until it turned into butter. I once did
the activity with the school summer program, but used baby food jars.  Using pints, my arm about fell off but it worked.

I have also made ice cream. My ice cream recipe calls for 2 cups half & half, 2 cups heavy whipping cream, ½ sugar (more or less to taste), 1 teaspoon vanilla and pinch of salt. I like to use my coffee syrups for flavoring. I use less sugar when I do. My husband’s favorite flavor is toasted marshmallow. I enjoy strawberry with a couple fresh strawberries on top.  I did well making ice cream until broke my ice cream maker. I guess I know what I will be scrounging rummage sales for this summer. I love hunting for a bargain.  

I want to experiment with making milk soap but I’m having a tough time finding lye. I may have to order it on-line. My husband was to try and make it at home first using wood ash. I have found local sources for glycerol soaps but I need lye to make dairy soaps. I have an oatmeal, milk and honey recipe for soap I really want to try. I found it at http://chickensintheroad.com.  

I am also planning on trying hard cheese again. Wish me luck!!