Urban Farm Handbook March Challenge Kickoff – Home Dairy

Last month we asked and you delivered. And now with soil building under your urban farming belts, it’s time to tackle home dairy.

Why bother making dairy items if you still have to buy the milk?

Because it’s easier to source good quality, local milk; because it’s possible to get to know your dairy farmer; and because of the questionable ingredients that you won’t have in your own creations. I don’t know about you, but I just love not having to read labels!

Now, how do you know good quality milk when you find it?

  • The animals have access to pasture most of the year
  • You are allowed to visit the farm and see the conditions of the animals
  • The farm doesn’t use growth hormones, and only medicates to save the life of the animal, then withholds the milk until treatment is completed
  • The milk is so clean it doesn’t need to be ultra pasteurized
  • Bonus points if the milk is not homogenized and is sold in a returnable glass jar

In my family we drink raw milk but I’ve done my research and feel comfortable with the dairy (in fact now our milk comes from our own mini-nubian goats).  The mason jars of milk in my refrigerator have labels like “Val” and “Mary”.

In the drawing below, this maiden has poured milk into shallow bowls in order to create the greatest surface area possible then left the milk undisturbed so the cream could rise to the surface.  You can do this too, if you have non homogenized, raw milk.  If your milk is pasteurized you should leave it to separate in the refrigerator.  Once separated, you can skim the cream off the top using a wide spoon or a turkey baster.  There – you already made another dairy product – cream!  Look at you go!

But I know you, you’ve built up your soil and you are ready for a real challenge.  Making cream from milk isn’t going to satisfy your urban farming soul.  You want to know more.  You want to know how to make buttermilk, kefir and yogurt too.   If you have raw milk you can even make curds and whey then sit on a tuffet eating them.

What’s that? You want to make cheese first? Good for you – go for the gusto.

Jennie Grant of the Goat Justice League lobbied unrelentingly until mini dairy goats were legalized in Seattle. She has personalized a recipe given to her by Lora Lea of Quillisascut Farm. If you can’t make it to Farm School you are going to want to buy the book, trust me on this one. Jennie Grant is also writing a book on dairy goats in the city, due out in Fall of 2012.

Andrew Wilder of Eating Rules has been a home cheesemaker for years and has put together a great cheesemaking equipment primer and cheesy challenge for you.

Next week we’ll learn about things other than cheese back here on this blog.

And then at the end of the month, come back to this blog and link up your blog entries or comment on the round up post on what you’ve all done during the month.

You’ll be rewarded with the chance to win great prizes like cheesemaking kits, books and cultures.

So, go visit Andrew’s sites and find the next round of challenges. Ready, Set, CHEESE!

27 Responses to Urban Farm Handbook March Challenge Kickoff – Home Dairy

  1. Pingback: A Cheesemaking Challenge: Lemon Cheese — Eating Rules

  2. This post just made me laugh! Before I read last months challenge I had started thinking and planning on soil prep stuff. I really enjoyed last month by the way! Just today (before I read this post) I told my husband that I thought I needed to start making yogurt again. I am in in tune with you guys! We don’t drink raw milk because we can’t afford it right now. I get organic and was just thinking that I needed to culture it to help bring back some of he nutrients lost during processing. It’s not perfect, but I’m good with steps! One day I’ll have a dairy animal, be able to trade for it, or even may I dream be able to afford it!

    • Annette Cottrell

      Kristin, this is great! Be sure and link this up to the roundup later in the month so you can be eligible to win prizes – I’ve got some great ones lined up!

  3. Shopping on amazon to get the supplies i need. Hopefully they come soon

  4. So fun to try this challenge! I made cheese and yogurt today and it was super easy. Next time I want to try it with raw milk!

  5. Pingback: Well Cultured | Risky Lizness

  6. Grr, cheese fail! Don’t let your kids help you the first time … burned the milk.

  7. Pingback: Blessed are the Cheesemakers | Risky Lizness

  8. Excellent. We just found our own raw milk hook up and I have made some caerphilly! I will link my posts later this month.

  9. Great cheese, great fun! And oh so yummy….


  10. Great cheese, great fun! And oh so yummy….Here’s a link to us making it.


  11. We made some Mozzarella cheese and it was fun, satisfying, and very delicious. Mozzarella

  12. I made the lemon cheese. Tasty stuff! Here’s the link to my cheese musings.

    • Annette Cottrell

      Excellent! Be sure to come back at the end of the month and link up to the round up page to be eligible for prizes.

  13. I just did another cheese-making guest post — this one was Ricki Caroll’s 30-Minute Mozzarella Recipe… I shared it on the Simple Bites blog:



  14. I also made the delicious lemon cheese! http://wp.me/p1goYx-el

  15. Pingback: Convergence of Ideas | Laura Rittenhouse's Gardening Journal

  16. Is this the round-up post? I’m a newbie. Trying to figure it out! Thanks! ;)

  17. I made the lemon cheese (with herbs) which was delicious! It was so easy. It will be difficult to buy store-bought ricotta-style cheese ever again, and it totally makes me want to try my hand at yogurt and other cheeses!

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