I was born in the Dairy State (yes, Wisconsin, not the other one), and I can't remember a time that dairy wasn't part of my life, and life was good. If you know me at all, I can't imagine life without cheese!
Wednesday I pick up my milk. The first thing I do is skim the cream off for butter. There are a lot of different ways to make butter, but I'm going to stick with mine.
I fill a mason jar (or four) half way with cream. This can be heavy whipping cream from the grocery store as well, just stay away from the Ultra Pasteurized stuff.
I let it sit on the counter until it warms up a bit- a little cooler than room temperature. I was talking to someone the other day about using it frozen, but I haven't tried that yet.
Once it's a little warmer, shake it! Shake it like it's nobody's business. My kids call it my shake weight! This step takes about 10 minutes. You'll know when it's ready- you'll see the butter, and the buttermilk are now separated.
Drain the buttermilk into a container- you can use it in baking. (I completely forgot about this for the picture!)
Rinse the butter to remove excess buttermilk, and lay on a plate. Take a spoon or spatula and smoosh it (technical terms) to remove every last bit of buttermilk. Your butter will go bad quite quickly if you skip this step.
You're finished! You can put it in a dish, or put it in pretty molds- you decide! I always throw mine in the freezer until I need it.
The next step I took with the milk was String Cheese!! Yummy, yummy string cheese! since I already have a post showing how to do that, I'll skip by it. If you would like to see it, you can check it out here
KEEP YOUR WHEY!!!
Once the string cheese was done, I decided to make Ricotta cheese with the whey! I had made ricotta from milk before, but never from whey. Here's what I did...
Making Ricotta Cheese From Whey
What You'll Need
* 2 large stainless steel pot or any aluminum or non-cast iron pot. You can also use a large heat resistant bowl for one of them.
* Thermometer (it will need to read accurately to 105 degrees F)
* Cheesecloth or flour sack towel
* Slotted spoon
*small pitcher or Pyrex measuring cup
I used two gallons of milk to make the string cheese (we REALLY like cheese), so I had plenty of whey left.
Put your whey into your large, stainless steel, thick bottom pot, and set your heat to high. Your whey needs to get to 200 degrees. the directions said to stir occasionally, I stirred quite a bit. You may or may not begin to see the curds start to form at around 180- I didn't, so don't worry if you don't.
While you're waiting, line your strainer with the cheesecloth or towel and place it over the large pot or bowl.
Once your whey heats up to 200 degrees, take it off the heat. This is what mine looked like.
Here's where it got interesting. I personally didn't see anything going on with my whey, and almost gave up. DON'T! Your ricotta cheese is really in there!
With your pitcher or pyrex measuring cup, begin to pour your whey/cheese into the cheesecloth. My set up looked like this...
As you continue pouring, you'll have to scrape the cheese on the bottom of your cheesecloth. Keep doing this until all of your whey/cheese is through. This process took quite awhile for me...so, I ended up doing this...
Once the whey is completely drained, you have ricotta cheese! I began with almost 2 gallons of whey- this made about 2 cups of cheese.
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!
I was still left with a gallon and a half of whey! Don't throw this away! My cats love it, my dogs love it, my chickens love it! There are also certain plants that love it! You can use it in baking! Use it! Use it! Use it!
To Recap: I started the journey with two gallons of milk. I hit the finish line with a two molds of butter, about 18 oz. of string cheese (it's actually an estimate- we eat a lot of it while it's still warm), roughly two cups of ricotta cheese, and a 1 1/2 gallon of whey for my plants and animals! Not too shabby!
I personally felt that the ricotta from the whey was more trouble than it was worth. As I said earlier, I have made ricotta from milk, and nothing could be easier- this was time consuming, messy, and all for about 2 cups of cheese. Next time around, I think I'll go right to the "give the whey to the animals" after the mozzarella/string cheese.
As far as getting the most out of my milk, I think I did pretty well!