Well, today has been one of the most liberating Saturdays I’ve experienced in a few months. The cow-share program we’ve recently joined was hosting a Dairy Essentials Class free to all members (classes are open to the public at a reasonable rate during the summer), and there were at least 15 of us there today.
The class was led by Karen (the Cow Lady!) and we also got to meet her husband Jeff for a quick minute. (Aside – we both agreed that this pair have a rare spirit of kindness and enlightenment, and a down to earth, accessible nature. We are so grateful to have found these remarkable people doing this good work for the community here.)
We then took turns introducing ourselves, and I was pleased to see many people my age in the crowd, as well as seasoned raw milk pros. Everyone had a unique story; one woman is severely allergic to commercialized milk, but she has never had a problem with raw milk since she started drinking it a few months ago.
Another woman (I apologize, I’m horrible with remembering names) had allergies all her life, but when she started drinking raw milk a few years ago, she found she didn’t need to take her allergy medications anymore.
A few other people were talking about how difficult it is to get the picky eaters or ‘traditional’ milk drinkers in their life to even consider raw dairy as a real option. If you think you are at this stage, you may want to check out realmilk.org to help you make an informed decision.
I personally knew I had to stop supporting the commercialized food industry when I saw the video expose the humane society produced when they infiltrated mass-produced dairy farms last year (I’m not going to post the link because it’s terrible – but the treatment of an animal does ultimately affect the energy of that animal as food in your body). And when you research the commercial processing of the dairy product, including pasteurization, raw milk develops even more appeal.
Cows should be pastured and content, as they are at Lubbers. We happened to see the cows milking process today and had to comment on how robust and healthy they looked. The average commercial dairy cow lives 42 months – the cows on Lubbers farm easily pass 8-12 years, with one cow even giving birth at age 16!
The cows are milked twice a day, every day. The milk travels in stainless steel pipes, passes through two filters and is kept at a cool 38 degrees. The entire tubing, piping, and storage system is flushed and sanitized every three days.
We got our milk today and, thanks to what we learned in the Dairy Essentials Class, we are now able to make (all raw):
- Simple cream cheese
- Crème fraîche
- Sour cream
- Whipped cream
- Ice cream!
- Vanilla Extract
Karen demonstrated how to make butter, and it’s surprisingly simple:
Pour about a quart of heavy cream (you can collect it over a span of up to 2 weeks) into a food processor. Process until butter forms (varies; about 10 minutes). You’ll know when it’s yellowish and “set”, or solidified. There will also be a lot of liquid too; this is true buttermilk (not what any stores sell) and can be stored for a variety of culinary uses. Press all the buttermilk out of the butter with a wooden butter paddle (Karen gave each family one free at the class), salt with a little sea salt to flavor and preserve (I use Himalayan pink crystal rock salt, just don’t use sodium chloride, or table salt), and store in a container at room temperature.
Karen let us sample the butter she made and it was to die for – we also got to try batches she had previously whipped up of yogurt w/ three different types of cultures, cream cheese w/ two different cultures, crème fraîche, sour cream, and ice cream! The ice cream was unlike any ice cream I’d ever known, it was soft, rich, and I could really enjoy savoring each flavor of vanilla and maple syrup.
She also recommended a variety of books with further recipes including cheesemaking. Karen is just a wealth of information on practical applications of real food in your own life; if you live in the Grand Rapids area I highly suggest you seek her out and get to know more about this amazing food source. If you live somewhere else, look around your community and see if there is a local farmer you can support. As more customers make the switch, more farmers will rise to meet that demand. And you can be assured their standards of quality, cleanliness, and ethics are in line with yours – because you are right there, hands-on in the process. Knowing where your food comes from is a huge leap in a healthy direction. Now I’m just going to sit back with my glass of milk and revel in this sweet success.