We've talked about raw milk before. Remember?
No? You don't? You don't care? Okay, never mind.
End of post.
While it is rather expensive to purchase raw milk, the health benefits are fantastic. We've decided to make it a priority to purchase raw milk, and while that may not be every homestead's priority, it's still something worth looking into. After reading the chapter on cultured dairy products and milk in Nourishing Traditions, that we talked about last week, I was very anxious to give some of the cultured products a try. We already make and drink kefir daily, but I've been really wanting to venture into cheese making…
Crazy, I know. Just go on. Say it. I'm crazy.
Luckily, for me, my friend Aileen does too. And since we regularly have “craft nights” together, I'm thinking that we can make room for a “cheese night” as well.
So, in order to start small and build my foundation of knowledge, I decided to make two different items: cream cheese and whey. It's really like only making one product, seeing as whey is the runoff of the cream cheese, but never-the-less. We are left with two items at the end of the process and that is rewarding! I used the Nourishing Traditions recipe for making this. Although, like multiple other “recipes”, it shouldn't really count as a recipe. More of a process. I'm going to give you the recipe I used, which is made from raw milk. It must be raw. MUST.
When normal pasteurized, homogenized milk goes bad…it really goes bad. Like putrid. Gag-worthy, really. You can smell it. Bleh. However, when raw milk “goes bad”, it doesn't really putrify like pasteurized milk. Instead, it starts to culture and therefore, takes on a cheesy smell. Because guess what cheese is! Cultured milk! I love it when things made sense. My point is this: do not let the idea of this scare you. At the end, you will not be left with a product that tastes and /or smells like something died in your milk carton. In fact, it will be the opposite. Deliciousness, I tell you.
Your cheese will only be as good as your milk – so make sure that you get raw milk from grass fed cows. It makes a difference. If you are looking for a milk source in Washington state, let me know. I will send you the contact information for a wonderful dairy here.
Phew. That was a lot of words again.
Raw Cream Cheese and Whey
Step One: Pour your milk into a clear, glass container. Like a large mason jar. Then, let it sit out on your counter for 1-4 days until it begins to separate.
Step Two: Line a strainer with cheese cloth and place the strainer over a large bowl. Pour the milk into the cheese cloth, so that the liquid can drain out into the bowl underneath. Let it sit out there for a few hours while all the liquid drains off. Gently press on the cheese, if you must, to remove all the liquid. I, of course, had to sit there and mess with it. Because that's just the way I am.
Step Three: After the strainer has quit dripping liquid, voila! You have made cream cheese.
Step Four: Place the cream cheese into a glass container and store in the refrigerator (it will keep for up to a month!). I added a pinch of salt to mine to up the flavor a little bit (chives would be delicious, as well!). Then, I smeared it on some toast to make sure I wouldn't die before I recommended this recipe to my readers.
So far, so good.
That's a relief! It almost has a feta like flavor, but slightly milder. It could easily replace store-bought cream cheese or mayonnaise on sandwiches or crackers. I bet this would just be divine if it were made with goat's milk. My friend Kendra just bought some goats and has been milking them – Hey Kendra, give this a try with your milk and let me know how it turns out!
Step Five: Pour the run-off whey into another glass container and store in the refrigerator as well. This will keep for up to six months in there! Now, let's talk about whey for a moment: What the heck is it and why the heck would we drink it?
I'm so glad you asked.
Whey is the run-off liquid/by-product of cheese making.
Whey has protein.
Whey has amino acids.
Whey can cure an upset tummy. Big time.
Whey promotes healthy digestion (digestive bacteria!).
Whey is a great source of minerals.
Whey can be used to lacto-ferment vegetables.
Slip a wee bit in the kids' smoothies. They'll never know.
Unless they read my blog. Then, they'll know.
But do it anyway.
While it's not exactly elaborate cheese making, beginning to culture dairy products at home is at least a start to where I'd love to end up someday. That is, owning a vineyard, dairy, cow-calf ranch, chicken farm, and greenhouse. In Tuscany.
Dreams, people. Dreams.
For now, I'm wonderfully satisfied with this delicious cheese.