Separating the Cream from the Milk

Now that we have cows, we have to learn how to use dairy products – a whole new learning curve for our little homestead that until now has produced only eggs, meat, veggies and fruit.  The array of products available to us with the addition of dairy is amazing.

The milk is of course neither pasteurized nor homogenized.  This means that the cream rises to the top and can be skimmed off to make butter or ice-cream, leaving the skimmed milk behind.  There are many different cream separators available on the market, that will efficiently skim off all the cream, leaving only skim milk behind.  However I’d like to avoid buying too many new gadgets if I can avoid it.  So I hand skim the cream from the top of the milk using a small ladle.  Hand-skimming is not as precise as a cream separator so some cream is left in the milk but that’s okay.  We are using the skimmed milk to make yogurt and we don’t mind if the yogurt is a little creamier as a result of some residual cream left in the milk.

Another way to separate cream is to use a glass iced tea container.  Since the tap is at the bottom of the container, once the cream has risen to the top, the milk can be poured out of the tap at the bottom leaving only the cream in the container.  If we have enough volume one day, I might try that method but for the amounts we currently have, it isn’t worth it to me due to the cleaning necessary to be sure all the milk is thoroughly cleaned out of the tap mechanism.

From the cream we can make butter and ice-cream.  From the skimmed milk we can make yogurt and some types of cheese.  We are enjoying experimenting with all of these things and in posts to come will talk specifically about some of them.

A jar of cream that has been skimmed from a much larger container of milk

A jar of cream that has been skimmed from a much larger container of milk

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