Every other week we drive 15 min to our small, local dairy to buy four gallons of milk. The farm’s small herd of grass fed Dutch Belted cows produces incredible milk. Even though it is not raw, the low temperature pasteurized and non-homogenized creamy goodness rivals any of the best raw milk I’ve had.
We are dairy lovers in our home. This is partly due to dietary preference and partly due to the local availability of fresh milk all year round. To buy the amount of cheese, sour cream, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, cream cheese, etc we consume from the store on a regular basis would require far too much driving, far too much money and far too many individual purchases of non-local products.
One of the primary tenets of the homestead kitchen, one you will see me invoke many times on future posts, is that of working with the freshest and simplest ingredients possible. When you go to the grocery store, its aisles bursting with plastic and boxes of ready made food items, you are there to buy time; time you will not spend transforming basic ingredients into components for your recipes and meals. What you buy in time, you lose in freshness, taste and nutrition. More than that, you lose the essence of what a good meal is: time well spent on yourself in your kitchen, communing with the elements that nourish your body.
Most of the dairy products from a conventional grocery, even the organic ones, contain additives and preservatives. Thickeners are used to substitute for full fat, proper fermentation and straining. When you make your own dairy products, you get an appreciation for the quality of your raw ingredients and an understanding of the alchemy used in traditional food transformations.
Four gallons may seem like a lot to buy at once until you realize it takes half a gallon of milk to make a quart of yogurt, much more to make cheese. You’re likely buying a few gallons of milk already if you examine the different dairy products in your fridge.
Below are separate posts with recipes and techniques to make my favorite dairy products that use fresh milk as the main ingredient. I’ll update links over the next couple weeks.