Tag Archives: raw milk

Chez Marcita Presents: Raw Milk Butter

Can you imagine the doors that were opened when Bill and I learned that he could eat butter made from raw milk? For years, he’s had an allergy to cow-dairy products. But a friend of ours learned that pasteurization is what causes the allergic reaction for many people, including her son. So when we had the opportunity to try raw milk, and found out Bill’s system could handle it, it meant more options on the menu. Ice cream! Butter! Buttermilk! Now we’re making butter with the raw milk we get from our local cow share program. Watch this video on how to make butter from raw milk. It’s simple and easy, and a decadent treat to have on hand.

Butter for Bill

What do you do with the cream from a gallon of raw milk every week when you don’t want to drink whole milk? Make butter. Or ice cream. But I can’t make ice cream every week because the problem is Bill and I eat it! As with ice cream, we can store butter in the freezer but it doesn’t seem to call to us the way ice cream does!

When I made butter from raw milk the first time, it was a near catastrophe. I had read about how to do it on the web, consulted with a friend, and gave it a go–using first my KitchenAid mixer, then a food processor, and finally a blender. I was able to salvage a couple tablespoons of butter at least, and the best part was I saved the buttermilk to use in our oatcake recipe. In the end, I thought of two possible things I did wrong: used milk that was too fresh and too cold. I also determined the blender is the best tool for the job.

So the next time I made the butter it was about four days after getting a fresh batch of milk. After separating the cream from the milk, I left it out on the counter for an hour or so. This batch yielded about two cups of cream.

I dumped all of it into my KitchenAid blender and ran it on “Mix” (a medium speed) for–no joke–less than five minutes.

After a couple minutes I looked inside to see if any solids (fat particles) were clinging to the blender cover. Once this happens, you’re pretty close. I ran it another minute or so more to make sure I had some substance in the bottom of the blender.

Then I used a slotted spoon to put the butter into a bowl, and strained the remaining fat using a sieve.

I saved the buttermilk for pancakes and then, using a spoon, pressed the butterfat into the bowl to squeeze the milk out. This is how much buttermilk I had.

I put the bowl of butter in the fridge, covered it with wax paper, and let it set a few hours, then rinsed it with cold water, again pressing the butter against the bowl to get the liquid out.

You could add salt to your butter if you want but I don’t in case I find a recipe that calls for unsalted butter. Some people add herbs or honey—there are lots of options if you want fancy butter for bread or a special recipe.

Then I packaged up my butter by rolling it in wax paper and marking it with the date it was made. I store these packages in a Ziplock bag in the freezer for future use.

Why is this post called “Butter for Bill”? Because, ever since we learned that some people with cow dairy allergies can digest raw milk, we invested in a cow share so we can get raw milk every week. He’s been able to enjoy more dairy products and recipes that have milk in them, as long as it’s raw. Ice cream, buttermilk pancakes, and butter are all treats he can now eat, thanks to this recent discovery. And me? I just love the taste of raw milk in my coffee every morning!

I’m so glad I was able to figure out the butter-making process using one of my appliances because I was about ready to go find me an old-fashioned butter churn!

I Made Yogurt!

For a couple of years now I’ve been inspired by my friend JuJu over at The Skinny Daily Post to make my own yogurt. She makes it sound so easy in her recipe. But, I had two problems keeping me from trying it: 1) An old, drafty house that has a stove with no pilot light; and 2) two nosey cats.

Since Bill’s and my raw milk supply has increased for the summer, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to figure out my approach to making yogurt. After doing some research online, I decided to buy a Euro-Cuisine yogurt maker, which I found at Williams-Sonoma. It’s basically just an incubator–but it’s also cat-proof!

It comes with these cute little six-ounce jars to make seven individual servings ready to go. You can change the number in the lid to the production date.

Between the manufacturer’s instructions and the instructions on the yogurt starter that came with the machine, I figured out the process and had success.

Because we get raw milk, it comes with cream, which I skim off before I use any milk and either make ice cream or butter. The Euro-Cuisine machine uses 42 ounces of milk.

As with JuJu’s recipe, the first step is to bring the milk to boiling, around 180 degrees F, for 1-2 minutes. I use a candy thermometer to watch the temperature.

Then you have to get the milk down to lukewarm (about 110 degrees F), which you can expedite by setting the pan in another pan of cold water and ice.

If you have yogurt starter, you mix it into the lukewarm yogurt at this point. You can also use plain yogurt. This recipe calls for 6 ounces, or one jar-ful.

Once you’ve blended the yogurt (or starter) with the milk, you pour it into the cute little jars.

Then you put the jars in the Euro-Cuisine. It has a separate section that holds the lids, which go on after the yogurt is done.

The incubation times vary depending on the fat content, according to the instructions. I don’t know the exact fat content of our raw milk once I skim off the cream but I took a guess that it’s about 2%. So I set the timer for 9 or 10 hours, since I’m still experimenting. (The manufacturer suggests 7 hours for whole milk and up to 10 hours for skim milk.)

I have found it’s easiest to start the process at night and let the yogurt “cook” while I sleep. The fat rises to create a lovely shade of yellow on top.

All you do is put the lids on, let them cool slightly, and put them in the fridge. I prefer making plain yogurt so I can mix it with whatever I want for breakfast–either in a smoothie or blended with seasonal fruit. This time of year: strawberries! It’s also a good substitute for sour cream, and Bill can eat it since it’s a raw milk product, not pasteurized.

Next step in my experiment? Buy Greek yogurt starter to make Greek yogurt!

Meet Ginger the Happy Cow

Bill and I have been on the fence about raw milk for awhile now. Turns out, even though he’s allergic to cow dairy, it’s the pasteurization, which apparently alters the milk protein molecule, that creates the allergy for him. Raw milk poses no problem, as we learned when we got a friend’s spare share of milk and made ice cream.

The issue isn’t whether or not to consume raw milk. Instead, it’s finding a local source that is convenient to make it an easy resource for us to procure.

Luckily, we found Ginger in Bangor, Michigan. A Jersey cow–known for buttery milk –she’s the charge of Matt Steele, who is offering cow shares for people interested in raw milk.

I think it’s important to know your farmer, so when Matt invited interested cow share contributors to visit over the weekend, Bill and I took advantage of the opportunity. Matt is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in food microbiology and knowledge of the FDA’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HAACP) food safety management system.

Ginger was in the milk house when we arrived but eagerly came to meet us, munch on some hay, and head out to the pasture to visit the other cows.

Matt Steele with Ginger

Her calf, Carmello, was born October 12 of this year.

Not only did we get to meet Ginger, but we also sampled some of her milk products: raw milk, cream cheese, and paneer (a fresh cheese used in Indian cooking).

From left: Yogurt, raw milk showing cream separation, raw milk before cream is separated

Cream cheese made from raw milk

Paneer, a fresh cheese, fried in spices

I can’t wait to start making raw milk ice cream, butter, and yogurt–indulgences for Bill especially, who’s been limited to goat and sheep products in the dairy category.

If you live in West Michigan and you’re looking for a raw milk source, contact Matt Steele. There are still some shares available!

Is Raw Milk Cheese Here to Stay?

Would you eat cheese made from raw milk at a restaurant? I did, recently, at The Green Well in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

For those of you following my blog, you may think I’m beating a dead horse here with the raw milk issue. But a timely article in The New York Times cannot go unnoticed after my recent posts, “The Raw Milk Debate” and “How Ice Cream Gave Me the Warm Fuzzies.” And, I’m here to say I survived another raw milk experience.

According to the article, cheesemakers and foodies are worried because federal regulators may change the rules for the gourmet cheese industry. The government is concerned about two multistate E. coli outbreaks that sickened nearly 50 people. (Investigators have not said whether the contamination in those cases has been traced to the unpasteurized milk used to make the cheese.In one case, investigators documented unsanitary conditions that could have played a role in making the cheese unsafe; in the other, the company was charged with packaging cheese for sale before the required 60-day aging was complete.)

Raw milk cheese is made from unpasteurized milk, which cheesemakers claim have a certain rich flavor that is destroyed in the pasteurization process because enzymes and good bacteria add flavor to cheese. They also claim raw milk cheese derives flavors from the animals and the pastureland that produce the milk, much as wine is said to draw unique flavors from individual vineyards.

Current regulations require “cheese made from raw milk to be aged for 60 days before it is deemed safe to eat.” Since raw milk has not been heated to kill harmful bacteria (i.e., the pasteurization process), aging allows the chemicals in cheese, acids and salt, time to destroy harmful bacteria.

But cheeses vary in their needs for aging, so 60 days (an arbitrary number) may not be appropriate for every kind. The new proposal has the industry worried because raw milk cheese could be banned altogether; or the ones that pose a higher safety risk might be prohibited if made with raw milk. Another concern is that the aging period may be extended, perhaps to 90 days, making it difficult or impossible for cheesemakers to continue using raw milk for some popular cheese styles that are best when aged in less time.

Watch for the feds’ proposal over the next few months to see if raw milk cheese is staying or going.

The Raw Milk Debate: Which Side Are You On?

This just in from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Many people believe that foods with minimal or no processing like organic and locally-grown foods are better for their health. But when people choose to drink raw milk, that is milk that has not been pasteurized, the impact on one’s health can be quite severe.”

It’s a timely article from the CDC since I just published a post about making ice cream with raw milk last week. Funny that I’m not sick from it.

This is the great debate: People who choose to drink raw milk argue that cows raised on pasture grass, rather than in pens eating corn, are healthy and pathogen-free, so it’s safe. And, when you pasteurize milk, the heating process actually kills off beneficial bacteria.

Health officials claim otherwise: “No matter how clean the cows or the barn, all milk contains fecal material,” says William Keene, senior epidemiologist in Oregon’s Acute and Communicable Disease Program, according to the USA Today.

I still feel that buying shares of raw milk from a farmer I know makes all the difference.

Some might say “it’s the emergence of these cow-sharing schemes in the past few years that has prompted state agriculture officials to crack down” like what happened to a Michigan farmer highlighted in a Time magazine article. He was pulled over by state police for hauling raw milk in a state (among 23 in the country) that prohibit raw milk sales for human consumption.

Is it a health issue or is it politics? Let me know what you think!

Dairy Farming in New Jersey: Good News and Bad News

I grew up in New Jersey so I have a soft spot for anything happening in my home state, even though I no longer live there.

First the good news: Because people care more about what they consume, they are more likely to buy raw milk from local farmers instead of pasteurized milk bought in grocery stores and supplied by large dairy farms.

The bad news? The sale of  raw, or unpasteurized, milk is illegal in New Jersey. And, it’s illegal to move raw milk across state lines. Because people are willing to pay a premium for raw milk, and the demand for pasteurized milk is down, New Jersey dairy farmers are suffering.

According to The New York Times, the Food and Drug Administration banned the interstate sale of raw milk 22 years ago. The agency calls unpasteurized milk and related products “inherently dangerous,” warning that they could contain a host of potentially lethal pathogens, including salmonella, E. coli and listeria. But individual states regulate how unpasteurized milk is produced, bought and sold within their borders, and just over half allow its sale in some form. Now, the weak market for pasteurized milk and its effect on dairy farmers is motivating some states to reconsider their ban.

Read the article in The New York Times.