When I was a young girl, something I especially enjoyed was the challenge of seeing how many gallons of milk I could turn into cheese, yogurt, or cream pies. Anna Belle was our old faithful Jersey that Dad would milk each morning and evening. We would get anywhere from three to four gallons a day. I always kept an eye open for new recipes and ways to use up extra milk. Making butter wasn’t my favorite job ever, yet the satisfaction of fresh creamy butter is etched permanently in my mind. We would have a container in the freezer where we’d dump in the cream each time we skimmed off a gallon of milk until we had enough to make a large batch butter. I would then thaw it to room temperature and take it out to the shop where Dad would set up his drill press for me to make butter the easy way. His large drill press would whip the cream and produce butter much more quickly then I could ever shake it in jars.
Chuckling, I recall an occasion when I accidentally let go of the container and it slipped out of my hands, and cream went flying in all directions. I wasn’t a bit amused back then, though I can now laugh at it. If you ever have the chance to stop in at our house for a visit, I can show you splatter marks where the drywall soaked up the greasy mess and could not be washed out.
The extra butter was frozen in two or four-cup containers to be used in baking cookies or other recipes, asking for butter.
Last week I had an interesting note from Bonnie, a reader from Beverly Hills, Florida, who reminisced how her grandmother would make butter. Now, her question was on how much cream to pour into her old fashioned butter churn. Naturally, it’ll depend on the size of the churn that will be used. I try not to overfill my containers where I’m making butter; generally not more than half full works the best, thus giving plenty of space for the cream to slosh around and expand as it thickens.
It was of great interest to hear from a reader in Australia who inquired on more recipes that use up mega amounts of milk, how I’d love to visit Australia, and personally view the countryside and cows grazing in green pastures with magnificent mountains towering in the background.
Mozzarella cheese was what I liked making when I had four or five gallons of milk that needed to be used. I would get a pound cheese per gallon of milk used. When we needed the cream for butter, I would first skim it off, while other times, I’d leave the cream on for extra creamy cheese. Like Velveeta, soft cheese was my go-to when I only had a gallon or two of milk to use. We liked using it on sandwiches, in soups, or casseroles. Etched in my mind was how proud my mother was to have me make cheese and such; now, I ask myself if I build up my children and make them feel valuable as they accomplish new things. Though their confidence in me spoke volumes to me, I remember how my dad used to say that we don’t need to be better than other children. I felt valued and loved to be their daughter, not just because of what I could or couldn’t do but also because I was their child. Now I tell my children, “I do not love you because you are good with your schoolwork (or whatever else), but I am so happy for you. You will never be able to make me love you more, because of your accomplishments or less, because of your weaknesses.”
Daniel also has fond memories of when he was a young boy, and spent time in the barn with his dad and brothers, milking cows. He recalls the time they had up to 11 cows to milk by hand. Amazingly, Daniel can still recall all of them by name. Our children never tire from listening to Daddy’s stories of when he was a boy.
Now while we are on the topic of milk and cheese, how about trying our homemade Velveeta?
1 gallon of milk
2 tablespoons citric acid
3 /4 teaspoon baking soda
1 /4 cup butter
1 1 /4 teaspoons salt
2 1 /2 tablespoons cheddar cheese powder
1 /3 cup whole milk
Heat a gallon of milk to 140 degrees.
Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons citric acid.
Stir, allowing curds to separate from whey.
Drain whey and let set for 10 minutes.
Add soda, butter, salt, cheddar cheese powder, and milk to the curds.
Heat over low heat and stir briskly until the lumps are dissolved.
Put into a container and refrigerate. I like lining my container with plastic wrap then lifting it out after it is set, making it easier to slice.