Dairy Processing – an adventure in routine

Dairy Processing – an adventure in routine


So our routine is pretty set now so I thought I’d collect all of it in one place to answer a few questions 🙂

First step is actually in late evening. Fleur goes into the barn and stays in a stall all night in order to ensure that I get some milk. In the morning I wash Daisy’s udders with hot soapy water, followed by clear hot water and then a dry cloth. I milk Daisy into stainless steel buckets before filtering it into a glass drink dispenser. I chose that because of all the options I saw for separating it was the most straight forward and also cheap. Mechanical cream separators are in the multiple thousands and require dozens of components to be washed after each use. That seemed to be serious overkill for the quantities I am working with.

The dispenser allows me to take milk from the bottom while the cream rises to the top. After a couple of days of milking I scoop the cream off using a stainless steel ladle and store until I have enough for butter or ice cream. The nice part about this is that I can skim just the very top layer of cream for super thick cream or I can use the whole layer for about whipping cream thickness. The milk seems to come out the bottom at 1-2%. I could two stage the containers if I wanted skim but ewww, who wants that!  

I use all stainless steel or glass utensils to make cleaning easier. Everything gets hot water and soap wash and intermittent bleach/water sanitizing. For the milk products tools that means every time I use them they get the sanitizing rinse because they’re not being used regularly. Milking buckets and filters are washed daily and sanitized a couple times a week. Milk jugs are washed and sanitized every 4-5 days when I empty them and the mason jars and washed and sanitized every time I use them.  

Butter, I’ve experimented with a couple different methods but I think I’m pretty set on the kitchen aid moving forward. The blender contains the mess during the separation phase better but I find the collecting and washing of the butter more difficult.

The actual process is quite straight forward, whip the butter on the highest speed until it turns to whipped cream, and then a few mins more until the solids separate from the buttermilk. Pour off the buttermilk which usually requires a strainer and some cheesecloth to capture the little bits of butter from the last bits of buttermilk. Then add the butter and about 1 cup of very cold water back to the mixer and mix for 30 seconds or so. The cold water encourages the butter to solidify which helps force out more buttermilk. This portion is garbage or animal feed. Knead the butter a bit to push out more liquid.

Continue repeating the washing process until the water stays clear, indicating there is no buttermilk left. Buttermilk will spoil long before the butter will so this is necessary to stabilize your butter and (as we discovered on batch 3 I think) it also impacts the taste. Knead a little salt in and you’re done.

I have discovered that moving the cow to hay in the winter changes the break point (the point at which solids and liquids start separating), and not in a lets finish this job faster way. I might try cultured butter next which should make the break point very fast, but we’ll see if the taste if acceptable to everyone.

Yogurt is next on the easy milk products to make. Heat milk to 180 degrees. Hold it there for a couple mins for thinner yogurt or up to 45 mins for thicker yogurt. Cool to 110 degrees and add 1 cup of yogurt with active cultures (batch two you can just add 1 cup of batch one). Wrap the crock pot in a towel and put in a draft free location for 10-12 hours. If you want greek style yogurt, strain through a cheesecloth lined colander, and presto, tons and tons of yogurt!

I’m not going to put up a cheese recipe because there are a million I’m trying so I haven’t settled on a favorite yet. I will say read ALL the directions before making a decision on what to make. Cheddar is an 8 hour commitment with multiple lines that say “for the next 45 mins, stir slowly in an up and down motion” MULTIPLE. That was a very long day, and I still haven’t been able to taste it because it needs to age at least 60 days.

Bonus update – cats! I’ve seen both Havana and Minnie this week and they’re both looking fluffy and fat. Now that there is snow on the ground I have proof that they’re coming to the house to visit. Maybe Pepper isn’t so insane with all the barking at nothing she’s been doing. Or more accurately, maybe it’s not actually nothing.

That’s it for dairy so far, sour cream and more cheeses are on the list for the future though.


Love from the farm!