What you can do with milk is my topic for today. There are lots of ways to use milk. It is a very versatile food. There is so much more than just drinking milk out of a glass. I know you didn’t drink it out of the jug, right?
As always, I want to take a minute and welcome all the new listeners and to say welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates
New Farm Sign
Scott just came in and showed me a picture of the new mailbox and farm sign set up. It looks great. I ordered a sign online from an Etsy shop. I found a guy who makes really great signs for a very reasonable price. He had lots of samples to choose from and an interactive website. Choose a design, type in your farm name and voila, you could see how the sign would look when completed. I was really pleased with the work and the quickness of shipment. I’m doubly pleased with Scott’s work and how beautiful it looks in real life. Now people can tell when they have reached the farm. The GPS brings you right to it, but we are 1,000 feet off the road behind a bunch of trees. It can be a little spooky driving off into the wilderness without a sign indicating you are on the right track.
I took a stroll out into the garden this morning just to see how everything was going. I don’t go every day anymore. There just isn’t that much out there. And with the ground cloth, the weeds are almost non-existent. There are five beds that are completely empty now. All the beans are in except for the baby limas. I’ll wait until the first frost is forecast before pulling out all of those. I want to give them as much time as possible to mature.
Today I picked a few more crowder peas from the garden. I really love these. I’m already looking forward to growing even more of these next year. I’ve talked about these beauties before. They are so, so, so easy to grow. I’ve never had disease, knock on wood. The only pests I have are aphids and they don’t affect the development of the peas. Next year I’m going to try putting the plants on a trellis. In the past, I’ve just let them grow all over the place. However, I want to try a trellis because I think it will make picking them so much easier. They get so tangled up. The branches are like half runners. I have been letting them grow into a jungle. We shall see how it goes with the trellis next year.
Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes
The peppers just keep on going as well. I mentioned last week that I am working on creating pepper jam with the idea of selling it as Christmas gifts. They are going to be gorgeous. Red, green and yellow varieties. Hot, mild, and medium respectively.
More potatoes are sprouting out of the ground each day. But how long before the frost kills the plants? That’s an experiment in progress. I’ll get a really good idea of how late is too late for a fall planting of potatoes.
The tomatoes are blooming again. I’m just going to go out there and cut those down and put them on the compost pile. There is no way those tomatoes are going to make it to maturity.
The culinary herbs are going to need to be transplanted into pots. Eventually, they are going to go into a permanent herb garden. Don’t know if that will happen next year. Having them in pots for the winter will be fine though. Well, the basil and parsley are annuals. I’ll probably plant those in the garden again next year. For the rest, I really need to get cracking on designing exactly how I want that perennial herb garden planted.
The cows got to try out their new loafing area. I talked about that in the last podcast when I was talking about the creamery. Scott completed the area with fencing and a very ingenious gate system. The girls spent some time in there getting to know the area. Cows are creatures of habit. They are very calm and peaceful animals – until you put something in front of them that they have never seen before. Scott is getting them used to being in this area. At some point we will even walk them through the milking stanchion area several times before using it regularly for milking. They need to be comfortable with it and that takes some time and training effort to accomplish.
The calves are getting fat with all the milk they are getting. At the end of this month I will begin to wean them off the milk. By that time, Virginia will have developed her rumen enough to be fully self-sufficient on grass. Wendell is already at that point but I can’t really wean him without weaning her. He would just push up under her neck and dislodge her mouth from the bottle. He already does that if he finishes his before she finishes hers. She does the same. They are quite greedy for that milk.
Not much has been happening here. There is another wall that has been completed, but most of Scott’s time went into completing the loafing area and tweaking it a bit here and there. He did get the attic wall up. There was some acrobatics involved in that job. He was working in and around other sections and obstacles like the stairway. But it’s done and he is injury-free. That is always a worry for me. I’m a worrier. I admit it. Prayer helps a lot.
Those quail in the penthouse are doing really, really well. They only escape occasionally now. It’s like they have learned to run to the back of the cage when I open the door. Previously they seemed to only run toward the door and ended up falling out. Literally, they would fall out. Now they will sometimes fly out, but before they would run and their little legs were still churning as they unexpectedly fell to the ground. In two more weeks we will sort them out and decide which ones to keep and which ones go to freezer camp. We will be keeping quite a few extra through the winter this year.
I noticed the Muscatine grapes are disappearing. We have two grape vines, one gold and one kind of bronze. They both produced grapes this year. Last year only the gold one produced. Anyway, this morning most of the grapes were gone. Probably a raccoon.
What You Can Do With Milk
I want to talk a little bit about what you can do with milk. You’ve heard me talk about making cheese but there is so much more.
Nature’s Perfect Food
Milk is one of nature’s most perfect foods. Like all high-quality perishable foods, milk is best when it’s fresh. Homestead milk from your own cow varies in flavor due to the seasons and grasses being consumed by your animals but you can count on it being sweet, light, delicious and wholesome with a fresh taste. Commercial milk has a cooked flavor. Every once in a while I end up taking a sip of regular milk from the store and it never ceases to amaze me the difference in taste. It tastes cooked. I never noticed it until I started drinking milk straight from the cow. Now it stands out like a sore thumb. I love my fresh milk.
Knowing what you can do with milk is important when you have a lot of it coming in every day. It also gives some insight into how you can use your creativity to learn to make lots of great tasting milk treats. You don’t have to have your own cow to make most of this stuff. You can use milk you purchase in the grocery store. Except for ultra-pasteurized milk, all will work just fine. Ultra-pasteurized milk will not make cheese or yogurt or any other fermented milk product.
Let’s start with cream. You get cream by skimming milk after it has been left standing for at least 24-hours. A caveat on what I just said about making things with store-bought products, cream these days generally has alginate added to artificially thicken it. It is quite harmless but adds to the demise of the flavor. Of course it is pasteurized as well so has that cooked flavor. Real sweet cream drizzled over apple pie is a delicacy everyone should try at least once in their life.
Personally, I like it with fruit. Think peaches and cream, strawberries and cream, blueberries and cream and so on. Yum, yum. Pour the cream over the fruit, stir it well, let it sit for an hour or so and you have a treat like no other.
Other cream treats include whipped cream and ice cream which usually has some milk but is mostly cream. Another treat you will want to try is clotted cream. That is a cream dish that is cooked in the oven. I have plans to do a podcast on just that topic in the near future. I also use some cream to make ½ and ½ for Scott’s coffee. I fill a quart jar with two cups of cream and then top it off with whole milk. That equates to a little more than ½ and ½ but I have found it to be a great blend.
Cream can be processed in other ways such as with making crème fraiche which is a type of cream cheese. I have a recipe for crème fraiche on the website. There will be a link in the show notes. You can make sour cream as well, I’ve just never been really successful with that so I’ll stick with crème fraiche.
The last thing I will mention about cream is making butter and ghee or clarified butter. The skimmed cream is placed in a butter churn and processed until the butter fat separates from the milk. Now you have butter and buttermilk. I’ve talked about this butter milk before. It is unlike the cultured buttermilk purchased in the store. This is the traditional buttermilk.
If you are making this traditional buttermilk, generally you set out whole milk overnight and let is sour slightly before churning the butter out of it. The resulting buttermilk was a treat my dad loved with all his heart. He talked of buttermilk poured over cornbread all the time. It was probably his favorite treat of all time.
The butter can now be packaged and frozen for a long time or used as needed. I keep mine out on the counter so it is always soft. If you do this, you will need to use it quickly (as I do) or it will go rancid. You can add Vitamin E to help keep it from going rancid, but ours never lasts that long. There are also tools called butter bells that help keep butter fresh on the counter. The butter is put in the bell and then set upside down on a dish of cold water. That keeps the air from reaching the butter and oxidizing the fat causing it to go rancid.
Ghee is made by further processing the butter. I have a recipe for ghee on the website as well. Basically the butter is melted and cooked on the stovetop until the little bit of milk proteins still left in the butter is separated from the fat. Clarified butter is reached as soon as the separation occurs and ghee is made by continuing to cook the butter until the protein bits are browned. Ghee is very shelf stable without refrigeration. I have some in jars on my canned food shelves right now.
Fermented Milk Products
Let’s move on from cream to other milk products. All of these require some type of fermentation. The buttermilk and crème fraiche I talked about are also fermented products. However, cheese and yogurt are probably the most common fermented milk products.
I love making yogurt with our milk. It is so easy and so yummy. I get so many compliments on it. “It’s so creamy”, they say. That’s because it is not made from powdered milk like the stuff you buy in the store. Not only is that product made from powdered milk, but they also add stuff to thicken it.
I make mine by heating the milk to a just below boiling, around 180 to 190 degrees, then quickly cooling it. This destabilizes the proteins. Once a temp of 117 or so is reached, I add in yogurt with active cultures at a rate of one tablespoon per ½ gallon of whole milk. I use my Cosori multi-function pressure cooker to complete the process. In eight hours I have delicious and nutritious yogurt. I have that yogurt recipe on the website as well.
The last idea for what you can do with milk I am going to talk about today is kefir.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink similar to a thin yogurt that is made from kefir grains, a specific type of mesophilic symbiotic culture. The drink originated in the Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Russia, where it is prepared by inoculating cow, goat, or sheep milk with kefir grains. My kefir recipe can be found on our website. All of these recipes will have links in the show notes.
That’s it for today’s podcast. We always have something going on at the homestead and I love sharing with all of you. Things will be winding down for the winter soon. Topics for winter conversation will be varied. I look forward to it.
I hope you enjoyed the information on various ideas for what you can do with milk. I didn’t talk about cheese because the previous podcast was about types of cheese. Refer to that one for ideas on using milk for cheese making. Check out all of my recipes on our website. All of my recipes are printable. Let me know how they work for you.
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Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.
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