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Raw Dairy Roundup (and More)

After reading Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, and upon the advice of our family friend and chiropractor, Dr. Chad Hood, I have begun to incorporate raw dairy (unpasteurized milk straight from the cow or goat) into our diet. This is quite a change for us, as we gave up drinking regular pasteurized cow’s milk a few years ago, when our son Kellen’s severe dairy allergy first appeared. At that point, we all gradually made the shift to using rice milk in our breakfast cereal, and carefully consumed other dairy products (cheese, butter, yogurt, sour cream) so as not to cross-contaminate what Kellen ate or came into contact with. Because I knew what could happen to Kellen if he ingested or even touched a small amount of milk (immediate hives, wheezing, eyes swelling shut, runny nose), I chose to err on the side of caution and avoid buying the ubiquitous gallon from the grocery store each week.

Now there IS cow’s milk in our refrigerator, but it doesn’t come from the grocery store. Instead, I pick it up (two gallons every other week) at a neighborhood drop-off point served by a local dairy that provides raw, organic milk to its customers. Raw milk advocates tout the benefits of unpasteurized milk (obtained, of course, from a scrupulously clean and careful dairy), including the presence of healthy bacteria that play an important role in digestion and nutrient absorption. (We tried raw goat’s milk, too, which tasted surprisingly the same as cow’s milk, but it was a more complicated process to purchase it and a farther distance to travel to pick it up.) We’ve been buying the raw milk for a couple months now and are getting used to having it in our diet, but I’ve been trying to develop a system for efficiently and economically—at $10 a gallon, we handle it like liquid gold!—incorporating it in different ways for the members of our family who can have it. (I had some hope, as I was researching the idea, that Kellen might be able to tolerate raw dairy, but he still exhibited some symptoms after trying both the goat and cow varieties. Our next test will be to culture some of the milk into yogurt or cultured butter to see whether that process makes the milk’s proteins any less volatile for him.)

So I picked up two gallons of milk last week, and here’s what I’ve done with this latest batch so far:

Milk jarButter and buttermilk

• Using a tip I found on an online forum, I poured one gallon of milk into a jar with a wide opening at the top and a spigot at the bottom—such as you might use here in Arizona to steep and then serve a batch of sun tea. I allowed the milk to rest in the refrigerator in the jar for about 24 hours so that the cream would rise to the top. Then, using the spigot at the bottom of the jar, I released some of the milk into another container, which gradually moved the inch or so of cream down to a point where I could scoop most of it out from the top with a ladle. I saved the cream in the refrigerator and repeated the process with the second gallon (I only bought one jar to try it out, but it worked so well, I think I’ll buy another one so that I don’t have to wait as long to get all the cream separated). I got about 2 cups of cream total (1 cup from each gallon), leaving a little behind so that the leftover milk would still have some in it. From the cream, I made butter (1/2 cup) and buttermilk (1 1/2 cups) using my Vita-Mix blender. It was a really easy process, and the results tasted great. Of course, I do wish the butter yield had been higher! We have used some of the butter on bread and to cook eggs, and I plan to use the buttermilk this week to add to the soaking liquid of our breakfast oatmeal and maybe to bake something with the sprouted spelt flour I’ve got on hand. Any suggestions?


• I used a gallon of the remaining milk to make mozzarella cheese following the recipes and methods outlined in Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (click here) and the online directions provided by the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company (click here). Because I had removed much of the cream from the milk, the resulting cheese was a bit drier than when I made it previously with whole milk. And I should have added more salt toward the end of the process. But I think it will work just fine shredded or sliced (it should yield about 2 cups) on top of homemade pizza, which will be our dinner later this week.

I’m hoping to make yogurt with some of the remaining milk using piima or viili cultures I purchased from Cultures for Health a few weeks ago. The rest I guess we will drink or use in smoothies or something.

So I’m a little closer to establishing a regular routine of processing the raw dairy we purchase. I think it will take me a little while to get a system operating smoothly. And at some point, if we can fit it into the food budget, I will probably need to increase the quantity that we buy, as we still find ourselves occasionally needing to purchase regular butter, cheddar cheese and sour cream from the grocery store.

Cherry Juice popKennah with ice cream treat

Other projects in the kitchen this week included making juice pops from last week’s leftover Cherry Juice, and ice cream treats from Wardeh Harmon’s recipe for Dark Chocolate Ice Cream—Non-Dairy, Naturally Sweetened—both enjoyed by my naturally sweet daughter, Kennah.

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

August 11, 2009   20 Comments