Most of what we eat starts as grass, which is then converted into high quality food by our two milk cows.
Now we have all kinds of #plantbased food in vast quantity.
And clabber, and farmer’s cheese:
All of these wholesome foods came from grass!
Milk, butter, clabbered milk, kefir, yogurt, cream, whey, farmer’s cheese, mozzarella… we’ve had a great quantity of good dairy products lately, especially now that Rachel has two cows in full production.
Two Dexter cows are giving us about 4 gallons of milk a day. The cream rises wonderfully, giving us a couple of inches at the top of a half-gallon jar sitting in the fridge overnight. This cream is then turned into butter by beating it in the stand mixer.
When we have too much milk, we make farmer’s cheese by heating a few gallons of milk and adding a cup and a half of apple cider vinegar to separate it into curds and whey. We strain the curds and salt them, then they are quite similar to mozzarella.
Every couple of days, we also make a new batch of kefir, which is a rich drink filled with beneficial bacteria. I often strain it further for a couple of days to thicken, then salt it and use it as a very flavorful cream cheese.
Some milk is left to sit on the counter for a few days to sour, then we strain it out and use the tangy clabber like sour cream or yogurt. If we let it drain longer, it becomes sometimes like a cream cheese crossed with Greek yogurt.
Rachel also makes yogurt by colonizing fresh, warm milk with a tablespoon of yogurt from a previous batch. Overnight, it sets up and gives us more!
It’s remarkable to think all this rich, nutrient-filled food comes from grass. Plus, we get the benefit of lots and lots of cow manure for the gardens.
Keeping them milked is time-consuming, but the food we get from the process is so valuable as to be irreplaceable. Raw milk very hard to find, and when you can find it, it’s very expensive. We are getting almost 28 gallons a week. On the open market here, that’s about $280 in milk! Because we have so much, we can afford to experiment.
Once I have the gardens growing, I will be experimenting with using the leftover whey from cheesemaking as a diluted fertilizer. We’ve also soaked chicken feed in it to give them more nutrition and protein. Rachel also uses it when she makes homemade bread.
The bread is organic whole wheat with whey instead of water in the dough. To the left is the delicious farmer’s cheese that the whey was strained from. I would like to move towards growing our own grain for bread but I’m not there yet.
A few weeks ago I finished reading Metabolical by Robert Lustig (not perfect, but a good warning on processed foods) and Rachel and I were re-inspired to remove processed foods from our diets in favor of whole, non-factory ingredients. Most of our meals consist of fruits, vegetables, meat and homemade dairy. We are very short on homegrown fruits and vegetables right now but hope to rectify that as we plant our new gardens.
We eat our own chickens and eggs, as well as beef from a local farm (also plant-based!). The amount of vegetables in the diet will rise over winter, especially as I get the materials to make homemade sauerkraut and kimchi again.
But running a home dairy has been a huge blessing. We’re just getting started on our cheesemaking, too. I can’t wait to start working on some long-term aged cheeses as we settle into our new homestead.