Tag Archives: Cheesemaking

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!