Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Homemade Raw Milk Cream Cheese & Whey

Wife is a rock star. After I somehow cajoled her into getting a freaking cow we discussed our goals and our future together and added Bridget Da'Cow to the family, Wife has been busy making some delicious and nutritious raw-milk dairy treats for us all to enjoy. The latest one to finish out was this homemade cream cheese and whey:

Front, raw-milk cream cheese.
Back, a mason jar of raw-milk whey (at least, what was left after feeding some to the pigs).
It was incredibly easy to make, although getting used to handling raw milk (i.e., letting it sit out at room temperature for days at a time) is taking a significant shift in mindset. We're working on clabbering at the moment, with the goal of using the clabbered milk as a starter culture and as a chicken feed.

But for now, we celebrate the achievement of cream cheese.

It was literally as simple as taking milk, sticking it in a jar, setting it on the shelf for a few days, and then straining out the liquid.

Raw cow milk, having been set aside for a few days, is now separated into cheese curds
(solids floating on top) and liquid whey (clear liquid on the bottom).

Close-up of the separated curds and whey.

Wife took the curdled goop and strained it. For a strainer, we set up a bowl and placed a cheesecloth-lined metal collander/strainer inside of it.

Cheesecloth, strainer, and bowl, ready for cream cheesing.
Wife poured the whole daggone thing in to be strained.

In goes the whole daggone thing.
The liquid strained out quickly into the bowl. It was still dripping quite a bit, though.

Straining the whey through the cheesecloth.
We ended up with more whey than space at the bottom, so the cream cheese was just chillin' in a whey bath. That is not ideal, as the cream cheese turns out better when the whey is removed. So, ever the genius, Wife hung the cheese curds to drip out properly.

A final straining of the whey from the cheese. Wife hang to hang it up to drain, since
the whey filled up the bowl.
Once it was all strained and dry, Wife took a mason jar and added the whey to it. We'll be saving this for other recipes. There was some extra, which we gave to the pigs. The cheese was put in a bowl to chill down and harden in the refrigerator. I tasted some the next day, and it was great. It had all the consistency of 'store bought" cream cheese, although it was not quite as sweet. Despite the slightly tangier taste, it had a richness and a complexity not found in commercial cream cheese counterparts. Overall: delicious!

I have NOT yet tried the whey, but the pigs slurped it right up in no time. Their satisfactory grunts were enough for now.

But, we now have whey available, and have succeeded in yet another home dairy experiment. Overall, it's going great. I'd like Bridget's production to be up a little higher, but I think there are many factors working against that at the moment (late spring, middle lactation, teat injury recovery, time away, etc.). She'll get there once the grass comes back in full. In the meantime, we are still getting near a gallon a day, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. I'd like two so we can start clabbering food for the chickens and get them COMPLETELY off pellets and into a totally homemade chicken feed regimen.

All things in God's time, I suppose....

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