Some of you probably read the title of this post…
…and furrowed your eyebrows, wondering “Why on earth does is she even writing about that? It’s so simple!”
But it’s funny how quickly something can become a lost art….”
Take rendering lard and clabbering milk, for example. Not so long ago, lard and clabber were staples of every kitchen. And now, I’m betting if you were to take a random poll of people walking down the sidewalk, the vast majority of folks would have no idea what they were, or how to use them.
The same goes for cream. It used to be common knowledge how to quickly skim the inches of cream from a ice-cold jar of fresh milk and turn it into homemade sour cream, stiff peaks of whipped cream, or bright yellow homemade butter.
But for those of us who grew up with homogenized milk, seeing a creamline for the first time can be a completely foreign, yet awe-inspiring experience. I know it was for me.
I’ve received a number of emails from folks who bring home their first jars of fresh, local milk, and discover they aren’t quite sure how to separate cream from milk.
So for the cream-newbies out there–take heart. You’re about to experience one of the most beautiful parts of homesteading (aka fresh cream), and I’ll show you exactly what to do with it.
(Remember: This will only work with non-homogenized milk-- if you’re waiting to see a creamline on your homogenized gallons, it ain’t gonna happen…)
How to Separate Cream from Milk
There’s more than one way to skin a cat (er… skim some cream), so I’ll highlight some four of the most popular methods for separating cream from milk:
1. A Old-Fashioned Ladle
This is my weapon of choice because it’s fool-proof, with no extra equipment required. Here’s how to do it:
a) If you are dealing with very fresh milk, let it sit for at least 24 hours, so the cream has plenty of time to rise to the top.
b) Identify the creamline, so you know what you’re working with. (You’ll be able to see it by looking at the sides of the jar)
c) Gently dip the ladle into the cream layer and allow it to fill. Make sure you aren’t dipping too deeply and getting into the milk. You’ll be able to see the difference– the cream is thick and yellowish-white, while the milk will appear much thinner and sometimes even blueish.
d) Pour the ladle of cream into a separate jar, and repeat until the majority of the cream layer is gone. (I like to leave about an inch of cream in the jar– it gives the milk a better texture, and also ensures I’m not swiping too much milk into my cream, which can upset the butter-making process.)
e) Use the resulting milk for drinking/cooking, and then turn the cream into a variety of beautiful projects (details below).
2. A Turkey Baster
If you have a smaller creamline, you can use a turkey baster to slurp it off the top (simply follow the same instructions as you would for the ladle). However, my turkey baster skills are rather clumsy, and I’ve ended up spewing stuff all over my kitchen more than once. Therefore, I tend to only trust myself with a ladle…
3. A Gallon-Sized Ice Tea/Lemonade Container
I haven’t personally used this method, but I know many homesteaders swear by it.
Simply pour the fresh milk into a glass ice tea/lemonade dispenser. (I’ve seen them for sale all over the place lately… In both one and two gallon sizes– like this one (aff link)).
Allow the milk to sit for at least 24 hours, then open the spigot at the bottom– the skimmed milk will come out, leaving the creamline floating at the top. Once you are nearing the end of the milk layer, you can capture the cream layer in a separate container.
I haven’t used this idea yet, mostly because my kitchen is tiny and I have limited room for extra “stuff.” But having a spigot of milk in your fridge does sound kinda handy, especially when it does double-duty as a cream separator.
4. A Cream Separator
And last but not least, we have the good ol’ fashioned cream separator.
I’ve seen more than one of these babies for sale on Craigslist, or hanging out in antique shops… Although I’m always tempted by them, I haven’t ever purchased one because:
- They aren’t exactly cheap…
- Some of the models are humongous– I don’t have anywhere to put it!
- I just haven’t found them necessary, especially when my ladle does such a good job.
Now– if you had gallons upon gallons of milk to skim each day, investing in a dedicated cream separator would make sense. Or, if you are trying to capture cream from goat’s milk, a separator is pretty much a necessity. However, for the average homesteader with one or two cows, I just don’t think a separator is a must-have.
So I have my cream… now what?
You lucky duck… Fresh cream is the queen of the homestead, in my opinion. There are so many things you can do with it.
SO. MANY. THINGS.
Here are just a few:
- Easy Homemade Ice Cream
- How to Make Sour Cream
- How to Make Butter
- How to Make Snow Ice Cream
- How to Make Whipped Cream