Late last night I realized what had happened. I had become a hostage in my own kitchen. And like most things around here, it all started with a cow.
For months I had been waiting for Daisy to have her calf. She had been tricky and dated our bull after our backs were turned. Which meant after her first due date passed and no calf had appeared we had to keep adding 3 weeks. That’s the typical cycle of a cow, every 19-21 days they can come into heat.
So for months we went without her milk. No extra cream, no ice cream or yogurt. We just waited and watched and wished. Then finally it happened. Almost 3 weeks ago Daisy delivered her handsome bull calf. And we had milk, too. Gradually Daisy upped her milk production from 3 gallons, to almost 4 gallons. Then she jumped to 6.5 gallons and held steady for a few days. Until yesterday. My dainty Jersey cow outdid herself and blessed me with 8 gallons of milk. And a cup. I was floored. This was twice as much milk as she’d ever produced and twice as much milk as I was used to handling.
Never one to complain about an unexpected bounty I rolled up my sleeves and got busy. I knew there would come a time when I wouldn’t have all this fresh milk on hand. Just like preserving fruits and vegetables during the harvest season you have to preserve your milk when it’s flowing. And around here, it flows twice a day- once at morning milking and again in the evening.
What can you do with 8 gallons of fresh milk?
First I skimmed cream off of 3 gallons. That yielded a tad over 1 gallon of cream. Then I took the 3 gallons of skimmed milk, which had now become 2 gallons and turned it into 2 pounds of ricotta. The left over whey went out to the barn cats and chickens. I froze the ricotta to use later in stuffed shells. Some people like to use whey from cheese making for other kitchen activities, but this wasn’t a sweet whey and I needed the counter and fridge space.
5 gallons of whole milk and a gallon of cream waiting for me to “Do Something”.
I took the gallon of cream, and made 2lbs of butter. But my freezers were already groaning with butter, so I turned the 2lbs of butter into (4) 8 ounce jars of Ghee, plus an extra 4 ounces. Shelf stable and will last for a year or so.
Back to the 5 gallons of milk. More ricotta, 7 quarts of Greek yogurt, more cream that will be used for ice cream and either fudge or caramel candy… At some point it was time to go back outside for evening milking. Remember, this isn’t a one time deal. It’s twice a day every day.
Did I mention I also milk Snow & Peaches?
By the end of the night I had frozen 10lbs of ricotta, made ghee, butter, greek yogurt. Fed the farm critters so much whey that they ran when they saw me coming with a pail. Well, not really “ran”. More like turned their backs and tried to roll away. And, every shelf in my milk fridge is full and waiting for me to “Do Something”.
I spent the entire day under my cows’ udders or in the milk kitchen. I had become a hostage in my own kitchen. And I loved every single minute of it!