Monday, April 26, 2010

I made butter!

And it was significantly easier than I thought it would be. I've been skimming the tops of the mason jars that are stored with milk. I've been storing the cream that I've skimmed off the top in a pint mason jar in the freezer. When it was half full today I took it out of the freezer, and ran hot tap water over the jar while lightly agitating until the temperature was about that of a refrigerator. Then I shook the heck out of the jar for a few minutes. The cream started to whip and felt like the jar was completely full. Then all the sudden the little butter grains formed and I shook a few more seconds. Then, I put the wad of butter in a strainer, and the butter milk strained off. Then I smooshed the butter in a ramekin, all the extra buttermilk came to the top and I just poured it off. Viola! Butter.

And I was about to spend a small fortune on a cream seperator. Of course, I could probably a higher yield of cream out of a seperator. So maybe I'll consider that later, when we're independantly wealthy.

I had read in a mother earth news column that some people use a wide shallow pan to let the milk settle and skim it. I was originally thinking that I would do this for our cream seperating, but now I realize that would be counterintuitive as there would be too much surface area to try to skim. It is easiest for me to skim the cream off the top of a very full mason jar with a regular size spoon.

If only it had gone that smoothly for the mozzarella I attempted to make for the 4th time. I think this was the worst batch ever. Totally inedible. Two and a half gallons of goat milk that I worked so hard to milk, filter, pasteurize and then fumble around with huge vats of hot liquid.

I think my problem is two-fold. At least I hope I've figured out what is wrong.

1. My "pasteurizing" technique so far has been to heat in the microwave, which is really difficult. I find that the milk can take forever to get up to the correct temperature but quickly overheats. (Which is true of anything that has fat in it... just think of how easy it is to burn nuts). So I've made sure that I get at least a high enough temperature to kill bacteria, but in some instances it has gotten far too high, which will ruin cheesemaking.

I may have to bite the bullet and get the pasteurizer. Ugh. $400 is a lot to spend.

So that partially explains why this batch turned out so badly, but what about past trials? Well, I was reading on Ricki Carroll's website that many Organic farmers are not listing on their labels that they are using the UHT (ultra heat treated) technique on their milk. Perhaps that is why those previous batches failed.

2. I read on Fias Co farms website that the other trick is to get the acidity right and you have to increase the acidity without overdoing it. Well, how the hell do you know what is what? I don't know. And is it possible that one batch of milk will have a different pH than another batch? I saw these the other day, and I can't remember if I ordered some or not.