I am lucky to be able to get raw milk from my neighbor's Brown Swiss cows.
Raw milk is much healthier than modern processed milk, and even my husband, who is lactose intolerant, can drink it without issue. I confess, neither one of us is a big milk drinker or cold cereal fan, so I find other uses for its many health benefits.
We do drink a lot of smoothies, so I make several quarts of homemade yogurt each week, making sure I don't overheat the milk, which destroys many of the digestive enzymes. You can read more about the raw milk health benefits here.
This week, I decided to make butter for ghee (a.k.a. clarified butter), a lovely and delicious oil useful for many European and ethnic dishes. You can buy ghee, but here's how I do it at home:
I love that we exchange reusable glass gallon jars with the farmer. Ecology first!
I scoop the cream (yes, cream on the top of the milk!) into a blender:
Then I run the blender on high, checking every few minutes to see what's happening, and soon the butterfat separates from the milk, looking like this. Depending on the time of year, the coagulated butter can be colored pale yellow to a deep golden tone. The fat content also depends on the point of lactation. These cows are at the end of a nursing cycle, and will soon be on "vacation" until the next time they are bred. Therefore, we get less cream with lower richness. And soon we won't get any!
I scoop the butter out of the blender with a slotted spoon, and rinse in ice water to get out as much leftover milk as possible. I'm especially careful about this if I'm going to use the butter for toast, as the leftover milk makes the butter go rancid very quickly. You can also add salt at this point, but I prefer the taste of unsalted butter. Added tip: Use the leftover butter from the spoon as a hand balm - it'll make your skin soft as a baby's!
To help keep the butter longer, and for a real cooking treat, make ghee. Over very low heat, melt down the butter, and continue heating until all the milk solids are crispy brown, and you can strain off the remaining oil. It will slightly solidify at room temperature and stay fresh for a long time - though it will probably only last a few days, it's so delicious.
One gallon of milk will yield only half of this very small container! Making this yourself shows what a precious commodity it is. Not only is the flavor very good, but it has a very high heat index making it ideal for very hot cooking. Click here to read about all the health benefits of ghee.
Next week, I'll share other uses for my locavore raw milk bounty. Some of the ideas might surprise you!