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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Got Milk?

Got milk?

We do and lots of it!

It must be a couple weeks ago now, that 4D15 cow had a late calf. She was one of those cows that we never expected to calve this year and was on the "gotta sell" list. She surprised Dave one day with a small calf at her side. She was tame enough for Dave to look over the heifer calf (Dot is her name) and that got us to thinking...would she be tame enough to milk?

Last year we purchased two Dexter cows, with the intent to milk them for our personal consumption. They're a small breed of cows, perhaps the size of a yearling calf. They are marketed as a tri-breed, for beef, milk and as a work animal (to pull a small plow, etc.). Well they never did appreciate being milked by hand, so after just a couple weeks we gave up on that adventure.

So when 4D15 calved this fall, we thought maybe we'll try it again. Dave was raised on raw milk from the farm so I'm not too worried about any health concerns. (heck, you can buy tainted produce right from the grocery stores!!)

The biggest difference between Dexter milk and this new cow momma is the cream content. The Dexter milk was very rich, with a cream content of nearly 30% it seemed. However, our current milk cow is a hereford/angus cross (best for beef) and the milk is closer to a store-bought whole milk. Very little cream separates from the milk. Which makes it difficult to skim off the cream and make butter or ice cream.

It took me over a week of milking daily, to accumulate a sufficient quantity of cream to make a batch of butter. I collected just under 4 cups of cream from nearly 4 gallons of raw milk (see I told you it had very low cream content!!).

I googled for the how-to using a KitchenAid mixer, the easiest method that I know of. The hardest part of the process is milking the cow, then skimming off the cream, then keeping your kitchen clean while the mixer does all the work.

First you pour the cream into the mixing bowl and turn it on to whip, as though you were making whipped cream. Be prepared to drape towels over the machine, unless you feel like washing walls and floors afterwards ;)

We've been whipping the cream for a few minutes now, and it's starting to change appearance. You can see the small globs of butter forming.

You can really see the butter starting to form together. The liquid is actually the buttermilk separating from the butter. You can use the buttermilk to make pancakes or muffins. Some people even drink it straight from the glass.

In the bowl is the unwashed butter, and the buttermilk is in the measuring cup. You can see that from the 4 cups of cream that I started with, I ended up with 2 cups of buttermilk.

The butter needs to be washed, to get as much buttermilk out as possible. If left unwashed, the buttermilk will sour the butter and spoil the taste. You can press the water out with a spoon, or knead it in a bowl. When the water gets cloudy, drain the water and start again with cold water. Keep kneading until the water runs clear.

After washing the buttermilk out and prior to drying you can add a bit of salt or spices. Mix in the salt while kneading.

I didn't get a photo of the next step, but you need to dry the butter before storing. I used a clean tea towel to dry the butter, kneading it for a couple minutes. Once the butter starts to stick to the towel you're done.

Out of 4 cups of cream, I ended up with this much butter. Not a lot. But so very yummy! Now we need some fresh-outta-the-oven bread!!

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