I got the most desirable surprise of my life this evening when I decided to try what little goat cream I had managed to skim off my milk and turn it into butter! Using barely a half a quart of cream I got twice the amount of butter I had been managing to get from my cows milk that was at least a quart or more of cream.
With the pancreatic issues I started having I was determined to switch out my store bought milk to cows milk...farm FRESH cows milk, and had thought I had a reliable source when I started. With that cows milk came the cream that settled to the top, which I dutifully skimmed off just as I remembered my mother always doing. However, being that it was a Holstein cow it was still lacking somewhat in content, but I was happy just to get the cream and turn it into butter....I had not had fresh cream butter since I was a kid!
We had a milk cow when I was growing up, but only for a short time as my dad could never seem to remember he needed to be home in time to milk her in the evenings. Mom and I would take turns but neither of use were very good at milking...we got milk, but it took us a lot longer than it did my dad! Mom felt sorry for the cow and told my dad to sell her. Later on she found a lady up the highway who sold milk and she started buying it from her...it started out at .50 a gallon...yeah!! FIFTY CENTS!! Over the course of the years it eventually climbed to a whopping $1.50 but by then Mom was just buying from the store.
Anyway, we'd stop and pick up a gallon, sometimes two, and Mom would bring it home and immediately run it through an old tea towel to strain it. Where we bought the milk was clean, but she just liked knowing it was extra clean! ;) She'd pour it into a large bowl, cover it, and set it in the fridge to let the cream rise to the top. Later she'd skim off the cream into a quart jar and set it back in the fridge until she gathered enough to make butter.
We didn't own a butter churn, ours was the simple "jar and shake" method and I seriously loved doing that. I had the ability back then to set still for longer periods of time so I didn't mind shaking that jar and watching for the butter curds to start forming. Through the whole process Mom was telling me the hows and whys of butter making...it stuck! When it was ready she'd strain off the buttermilk for my dad to drink later and then run that butter through cold water, working it this way and that until it was where she wanted it and all the milk product was out...then she'd salt it down, mix it a little more, swipe the spoon and hand it to me! There was nothing better than fresh butter straight off the spoon!
Thankfully, after all those years, I still remembered Mom's teachings and couldn't wait to get my first batch of butter, which I did, but in a lot smaller amount than I remember. Still, I was happy to have what I got and I limited my fresh eating to just a dip or two of my finger! ;) I thought I was happily on my way to having at least enough real butter to slather on toast or a biscuit, but then my source got erratic! One week I'd have milk and the next week I didn't...then it would be two weeks before I got it, so my dreams of drinking fresh milk and eating fresh butter began to falter by the wayside until some old friends of ours stopped by the hub's store and he told them about my bout of illness. The next day they came in packing a gallon of goat milk to send home for me to try...well...I fell in LOVE with it!!
My only round of goat milk tasting was a very small stint I attempted back years ago while raising goats. I bought an "elderly" nubian nanny who was about to kid and after she did I was determined to milk her as well. I wasn't impressed and my kids weren't either. I've since come to realize that just like a cow, a goat's milk is largely determined by what she eats...ours was eating scrub brush!! Really, that's why we bought them in the first place, to help clear out the brush on our new property. Needless to say the milk was not that great, so I eventually left it for the babies she had and called it quits. But this milk that was delivered to me? Oh man!! Was it ever good...the creamiest, richest tasting milk I've ever drank...I was hooked!
I had one slight problem though, I was already committed to buying the cow milk and knew there was no way, just the two of us, could use that much milk in a week, so I tried to alternate and basically let the goat milk fill in when the cow milk didn't show up. After going through a 3 week stint of no cow milk and no explanation why there was none, I talked to our goat folks and asked them if I could just start buying on a weekly basis from them and I've been happily buying regularly for the last several weeks (funny, after 4 weeks went by and us telling them to just not worry about it, a gallon of cow milk showed up, still with no explanation for all the missing weeks, but wanting to know if we were going to continue buying it...uh no!!).
Now I also had one problem with the goat milk...not enough cream to make butter, but I decided I'd just relinquish those thoughts and turn instead to making cheese. Goats milk is naturally homogenized, so while they do in fact have cream, it doesn't run to the top as easily as cow cream does, therefore, without a separator, it's kind of pointless to try and skim it off..you just don't get much. But this week I'd let my gallon jugs set a couple days in the frig and could easily see what looked to be about a 1/4 inch layer of cream on the top of my gallon...I decided to take it off. The first thing I noticed was how thick it was...it reminded me more of the Jersey cream we got when I was a kid...very thick, very creamy...nothing like that watered down,thin stuff I had gotten off the cow milk. But I didn't get a whole lot, maybe a quarter of quart jar and wasn't real sure how much of that had milk mixed in. My other gallon was already in the drinking jar in the fridge and there was definitely cream on top of it, so I just kept siphoning off through my spigot and letting the cream slide right on down to the bottom of the jar. Tonight I added that cream to my quart jar...I had almost a half a quart.
My personal preference is fresh cream butter...I can do the cultured, but it's just not as much to my liking, so rather than have my cream ripen on me waiting on more, I thought, "well why not try it and see?". I hooked up my small blender cup and poured in the cream...hit the blend button and let her run (I can't set still long enough now to do the jar shake thing!). I don't think it took even 5 mins til I had globs whirling around and banging the sides of my container. I pulled the lid off and....OMG!! The thing was FULL of butter!! I began hoopin' and hollerin' for the hubs to come look at what I had...yeah, it don't take much to excite me these days!! ;) But seriously, I was totally astounded at the amount of butter that little dab of cream had made and happily elated to know that my buttering days were not going to end after all!
One of these days I may just invest in a cream separator (I'm already checking prices!), because now that I've seen what a little skimming will do, I can only imagine what I could get off of two gallons with a separator...and yeah, I think it would be worth it! I've yet to figure out just what skimming the milk will do to my cheese making endeavors, but I think I'd be willing to forgo the cheese in order to have the butter...after all we eat butter on pretty much a daily basis and cheese we don't! But I can always grab some of that erratic cow milk now and then to make cheese with! ;) Or maybe I'll start checking prices on a Nubian milk goat too and then I'd have a steady and full supply for both!! But for now, I'll enjoy my little dabs of home made goat butter on a fresh slice of home made bread...you can bet I will set still long enough for that!