I have this ongoing plan to live on a raw food diet for an entire week and post about the results. Occasionally I get attracted to weird schemes like this – I think of it as my Neolithic side. However, I’m a busy boy, and planning out the menus would take too much of my time at present. (Also, the weather is getting colder, and my plan met with strenuous opposition at home. Soon I was faced with the probability of making two complete dinners each night, one raw, one cooked. That was way too much work.)
However, and on the same theme, I am lucky enough to live in one of the few states where raw milk sales are legal. Raw milk is milk that hasn’t been pasteurized and homogenized on its way from the udder to you. It’s the milk from your early childhood (or mine, anyway) that came in bottles with a foil cap that had to be peeled off, the milk that separates out into cream and buttermilk. It is illegal in many places due to the joyless nature of the health watchdogs who believe eating anything that was eaten for thousands of years before the advent of food irradiation will result in instant death. The FDA reports, for example, that 200 Americans became ill from consuming raw milk or raw milk products in 2002! Considering there are 76 million reported cases of food poisoning in the USA each year, 200 from milk doesn’t sound that risky to me.
The other great thing about raw milk, and here is where I am going to end my rant, is that you can use it to make butter. Not only is homemade butter almost ethereally rich and creamy, making it is a great workout!
You will need:
a quart-sized jar
Depending on where you are, raw milk can be either hard to find or downright illegal. I get mine through a friend who has a contact in a farm share. Ask around. Try the cheese counter at your farmer’s market. Look online. It is worth it.
Pour the raw milk into the (very clean) jar, leaving a couple of inches of room at the top. It speeds things up immensely, and yields more butter, if you include as much of the cream from the separated milk as possible, but I like to drink my raw milk as well, so I generally don’t let it separate out and accept the smaller quantity of butter as a fair compromise.
Put the lid tightly on the jar and shake it.
Keep shaking it.
Who told you to stop? Shake that sucker.
Tired? Maybe a friend would like a turn.
After about 20 minutes (I’m being optimistic about your arm strength), the milk will start to get all clotty at the top. You’re nearly there! It won’t look exactly like butter yet. It will look like thick foam. Open the jar, scoop it out with a fork and pat it together. It may seem like slop now, but it will quickly harden up.
As it hardens, you can rinse it under the tap to get rid of the last of the milk. Make sure you use very cold water, or the butter will melt all over your hand. Put it in the fridge for a few minutes, and shape it into a ball with gentle pats. See how much harder it is getting?
Now – repeat with more milk.
The leftover skim or buttermilk (definitions vary) is good for making pancakes, I’ve been told, but I don’t like pancakes, so I guess I’ll never know. Try it and tell me.