I’m trying to be more mindful of what I eat;  more good fresh food and homecooked meals, less junk and processed foods.   So I decided to try making my own dairy products. I thought about this for a while, and did some serious Googling to figure out what I could make and how to make it.  I discovered some dairy products are actually quite simple to make. Others, especially cheeses, not so much. But I came up with a game plan, and this weekend I gave it a shot.

To get started, I went to Stewart Dairy to buy some fresh-from-the-dairy raw milk.  Since it can be frozen, I bought ten gallons. I figured that would get me through quite a few dairy products, with plenty left to spare.

The Dairy Progression

While researching this idea, I discovered an amazing thing; there is a lot of byproduct in the making of dairy products. But all these byproducts can be used to make other things!  The best place to start is with butter, because butter gives you buttermilk. The buttermilk has the cultures needed to make creme fraiche and sour cream.    Yogurt and cheeses yield whey, which can be used to make Ricotta and whey “sodas” that actually have fizz & are loaded with probitics! Nothing is wasted, which is pretty cool.

Making Butter

To make butter with raw milk, the first step is to let the milk separate for at least 12 hours in the fridge; 24 hours is better.  Once the milk separates,  skimm off the heavy cream, and leace the light cream in the milk.  Then the milk has to sit a day or two to “culture.” This step is what makes butter taste like butter.  To “churn” the butter, I used a hand mixer. It’s a good idea to cover the bowl and mixer with plastic wrap, because when the cream starts to turn, butter goes every where.

Home made butter

This takes a while, up to ten-to-twenty minutes, so I ended up using my coffee canister to hold the mixer. I really need a Kitchenaid for this… But patience paid off, and I finally got butter!

I left the buttermilk out overnight so the cultures could continue to grow, and the next day, I made yummy buttermilk biscuits, then started on the yogurt.

Making Yogurt in an Instant Pot

Making yogurt turned out to be a snap!  I used a half gallon of milk and 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt. To begin, I put the milk in the Instant Pot and pushed the “Yogurt” button twice, which boils the milk at 180 degrees.  Once it was done, I placed the pot in cold water until it cooled down to about 80 degrees. Then I added the milk and the yogurt starter to the Instant Pot, hit the “Yogurt” button again and went to bed.

Yogurt in an Instapot

When I woke up, I had yogurt! I poured it into a cheesecloth-lined colander so it drained and thickened into Greek Yogurt, then added vanilla and honey to it.  It’s so very good; Greek yogurt and  granola is my favorite breakfast!

Making Creme Fraiche & Sour Cream

I like to use Creme Fraiche in my coffee. It’s also pretty awesome with strawberries.  These can be made at the same time, and in almost the same way. Just add 3 tablespoons of buttermilk to one cup of heavy cream. for the creme fraiche, let this sit for about 12 hours, or until it thickens and place in the fridge. For sour cream, leave the heavy cream out for 2-3 days until it thickens and develops a tang.  Home made sour cream may be thinner than commercial cream, but the flavor is so much richer!

After a few hours of work, and several hours of waiting, I have butter, yogurt, creme fraiche, and sour cream, which will be ready in another day.  I also have quite a bit of whey left.  So what to do with the whey?

Make Whey Sodas

Whey is loaded with all kinds of good-for-you stuff, like probiotics, B vitamins, and protein. It can also be used as a fermenting agent to make sodas! These are super-simple to do.  To make lemonade or limeade, add one cup lemon or lime juice, one cup of sugar (or honey), and one cup of whey to a half gallon jar. fill the remainder with water, and allow to ferment for 2-6 days, until you see a fizz.

Whey Soda

To make fruit sodas, boil 4 cups of fruit and one cup of sugar in 1.5 liters of water, stirring constantly for 10 minutes. Pour fruit syrup through a strainer into a half gallon jar. Add one cup of whey to the jar, seal and ferment for 2-6 days. When soda is fizzy, put it in the fridge to chill, and enjoy!

I made lemonade, limeade, raspberry, and blueberry sodas. Even unfermented, these were quite tasty! I can’t wait to taste them in a few days when they develop a fizz. As a bonus, I used the boiled fruit to make fruit spread for my toast!

I had fun doing all this, and next weekend I’m going to take a stab at making cheese. For now, I’m thinking about a yogurt and granola snack!

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