Fun with Dairy

As mentioned, I was going to make butter from the cream I picked up the other day. I have only ever made it in a jar, shaking it by hand. Since I had a lot of cream to churn, this time I was a little experimental. After some failed trial and error around the kitchen, I finally decided to run it through my new and much beloved food processor with the dough blade.

Word on the street was that it can take a long time when using electric, but including my fiddle-farting with the machine, it took perhaps three minutes. Since I only have On/Off/Pulse for choices, I ran it for about 30 seconds, pulsed for 10 until it separated, and then I pushed it all down with a spatula and continued to pulse until I was ready to pour off the buttermilk. I found the butter incorporated loosely with the buttermilk when I let the machine whiz it all up, and the pressing was necessary, but it was not nearly as finicky as it could have been. I did the first two washings in the machine, but then I transferred it to a bowl and stirred for the last couple of washings. The resulting butter was pale (as befits Alaskan cows in the middle of winter) but better tasting than the best the stores have to offer up here.

I was shocked at how much butter I ended up with. I will definitely be using this cream again. Instead of the 50 percent buttermilk, 50 percent butter I was getting with store brand cream, I got 3 cups of butter and 1 cup of buttermilk out of 4 cups of cream. I suspect that this had something to do with the butterfat rising in the bottle of cream, and I wouldn’t get the same results with the rest of the gallon.

I did some reading, and found this excellent site: Fankhauser’s Cheese Page, which seems to be a visual collection of skills by a biology professor from Ohio. It’s all pretty interesting, and I like how it is presented.

It reminded me that I had cleaned up the old yogurt maker. I got the milk heating and then couldn’t find either my frozen starter OR the packet of dried starter that was supposed to be in the fridge. I had the dregs of a half-gallon of Nancy’s plain yogurt left, and dubious as I was, I still decided to use it.

I had been futzing with the individual-serving yogurt maker for so long that I forgot how easy it was to just pour it into the big jug and let it go. I pulled it a bit later than I usually do, at 7 and a half hours, and refrigerated it until that evening. Did I mention our house has been on the warm side at 70-75 degrees? Due to the higher than necessary temperature, the questionable starter, and the longer than usual growth time, the resulting yogurt was predictably a bit off.

But not off in a bad way. Just in a “not gonna eat this like usual” way. I had the first two bowls with honey for dinner that night. It was a bit gritty at the top, which always happens if I use Nancy’s as a starter, regardless of the freshness. The next morning, it had separated a lot,  so I poured off the whey and used about four cups of it for smoothies.

The bottom had gotten the worst of the overheating, and was really thick and really strong. It smelled fine, so I decided to make yogurt cheese with it. With the last of the creamy middle, I set some plain yogurt in cheesecloth to mix with some mango and ginger soft cheese  for blitzes on Friday morning. The thick bottom I salted and snipped some green onion tops for. I checked this a little bit ago and it is doing wonderfully, somewhere between the boursin soft cheese and chive and onion cream cheese. It’s not quite salty enough, but that is easily fixed.

I wanted to try my  hand at some cheese too, but since the rennet was with the yogurt starter and both are AWOL, I’ll have to wait.

I do have several cups of whey now, and I ‘m thinking of doing some lacto-fermentation. Have to read up a bit more on that, though. Look for updates.

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