It’s kinda like a status symbol.
That bowl of ricotta on my counter that I just made myself? It gives me rockstar status y’all. And I know I’m not the only one. For many folks who dream of homesteading, not much would make them feel like they’ve “arrived” more than successfully creating delicious dairy products at home.
I know for me, home dairy completely captured my imagination at the beginning of our homestead journey. Every time when I realized another dairy item that I could actually make myself, well folks it was like the skies opened and the angels sang.
Yet so many of you who want to conquer home dairy haven’t started. Why?
3 Common Home Dairy Myths That Are Holding You Back
I think your hesitation towards home dairy may come down to 3 home dairy myths (#1 might be the biggest). So today, we are doing some myth busting.
Myth #1: You have to have a cow.
Thank goodness myth #1 is simply not true. Because I know most of you aren’t exactly in situations where you can keep a dairy animal. You may have a few chickens in your suburban backyard, or maybe you have an acre or two but not enough room for a full-size milk cow. Or, maybe you live in the heart of a metropolitan city and don’t even have a source of homegrown milk. I still got you covered. Trust me. You can make your own dairy products, in your own kitchen, no matter where that kitchen is.
Michelle Visser is going to be the guinea pig of the day to test out this myth. In addition to being a member of The Prairie Homestead team, Michelle is the owner of SoulyRested.com, author of Sweet Maple (aff link), and has recently been featured in Mother Earth News and Whole Foods Magazine.
But a tragedy hit Michelle’s New England homestead last spring. A barn fire meant her family had to rehome their dairy cows. She told me she hasn’t made one stick of homemade butter or one jar of fresh-made yogurt since last March. When I asked her why–and she commented that home dairy wouldn’t be any good without fresh, raw milk–I realized this myth needed to go to the top of my myth-busting list.
Michelle will tell you more about her story–and her recent home dairy success (no cow required!)–in just a minute.
What you need to know if you don’t own a cow or goat
- Find raw milk if you can… If you don’t have your own dairy animal, my best recommendation is always going to be getting the milk raw from a local farm or a friend with a dairy animal. (If that’s legal in your state; sadly it used to be illegal in Wyoming.)
- Share a cow if possible… If you live in a state where you cannot legally purchase raw milk, you may be able to cow share. A cow share involves a small dairy farm, where you purchase partial ownership in a cow, which naturally comes with rights to some of the milk. Ask around at your local organic food hubs to see if you can find a cow share option.
- Use regular store milk if you don’t have raw milk… When our cow is dried up, I purchase our raw milk at our local organic food store–I get Kalona organic milk. It is pasteurized, but it is low-temperature vat pasteurized, so it’s not quite cooked as long as your typical milk, and it’s grass fed. And I love that it still has cream on top! But you can definitely use regular gallons of whole milk from the regular-old grocery store too. (See Michelle’s example below.)
- Avoid UHT milk… UHT stands for “ultra heat treated” milk, which means it’s been heated to the point of sterilization. So it turns out that UHT milk acts really weird in home dairy recipes… it’s simply been changed too much to be able to make cheese or yogurt or butter with it.
Myth #2: It’s just about the cheese.
Most folks think that home dairy entails making a big block of cheddar or Parmesan–some sort of hard cheese.
The reality? Many of my home dairy recipes aren’t cheese at all. In fact, I make very little hard cheese.
My favorite home dairy items? Ricotta, yogurt, buttermilk, and butter.
And, when home dairy IS about cheese? Well, there’s a huge added BONUS. It’s not just about the ricotta, but it’s also about the whey. You see, by making delicious soft cheeses yourself, you wind up with lots of whey. You might want to check out my list of 16 Uses of Whey if you need ideas for why whey is so awesome.
So, in the end, if you think that home dairy equals having a cheese press and a cheese cave, I’m very happy to inform you that you’re wrong. In fact, I challenge you to think about the dairy items you’re purchasing on a regular basis and start researching how to make homemade replacements instead.
To make it super easy for you, I made a handy downloadable with my favorite 4 home dairy recipes all in one place–not to mention a sweet coupon code toward awesome home dairy products from New England Cheesemaking Supply Co., my favorite go-to place for all things home dairy. Just go here to snag my Home Dairy Recipes printable.
Myth #3: You have to invest a lot of time.
I think there’s a common thought process out there that if you’re going to be making at-home dairy products, it has to become your new, all-consuming hobby.
Here’s the deal. Home dairy is not complicated. It doesn’t have to be.
Now if you want to take your home dairy passion and turn it into a full-fledge hobby, you absolutely can. But here’s the thing, while we all want to have better food, not all of us want to become artisan bread bakers or cheesemongers who spend 20 hours a week crafting bread and cheddar.
Here’s the good news… There’s a middle ground. You can make your own sourdough breads, and fermented sauerkraut, and canned foods, and your homemade dairy stuff without letting any of it consume your busy calendar.
I’ve always been fascinated by this idea of slow food. Slow food stands in great contrast to the world of fast food, but there’s something about slow food that most folks don’t realize. So read on…
What you need to know about slow food:
- It’s pretty hands-off… While the slow foods we’re crafting at home take many hours to reach completion, most of that time is hands-off time.
- It’s about checking in on things… Even when I have my kitchen in full swing and I’m fermenting, and cheesemaking, and sourdoughing, it’s more about checking in on things in the kitchen once in a while. It’s not about being in there 24-7. Thank goodness. Because I got things to do and standing in my kitchen for hours on end isn’t one of them.
- It’s much simpler than you think… Homemade dairy is often as simple as taking a jar of milk, stirring in some culture, making sure it’s the right temperature, and leaving it alone. It’s just not a complicated process. You don’t have to babysit it. You could often do home dairy before you leave for work in the morning and finish it when you get home.
So, no, you don’t have to invest a lot of time when you’re making home dairy products. In fact, it might be one of the simplest ways I know to be part of something magical.
Let’s be honest, when I transform white liquid into a glorious golden yellow butter… well if that doesn’t make me feel like a Legendary Homesteader, I don’t know what would.
So how did Michelle do as the guinea pig, working at debunking myth #1? You know, that idea that you have to have a cow if you want to make home dairy products?
Living Proof that these Common Home Dairy Myths are Meant to be Busted
Thanks, Jill, for making me a case study in this whole myth busting effort. I can’t tell you how glad I am that you did!
I haven’t made cheese or yogurt for six months, since we had a barn fire and needed to find a new home for our sweet cows. Boy I miss them & the cheese, ice cream, butter, and yogurt. I just had no idea that any yogurt or cheese I make with store-bought milk could ever be so good! So I never tried.
But I finally did it. My daughters and I were skeptical. But we took the plunge, ordered a few things from New England Cheese Supply Co., picked up a few gallons of whole milk from the store, followed your directions in your Home Dairy Recipes download, and we made both ricotta and yogurt last night. (Maybe tonight we’ll make some butter & buttermilk!)
The results? Both the ricotta and the yogurt were absolutely delicious. With no cow required! Myth busted.
It’s Time for You to Work Some Home Dairy Magic!
So what common myth about home dairy is holding you back?
I encourage you to try this amazing thing called home dairy. Try it this week. Or put it on your bucket list. Make a decision to expand in your homestead repertoire of skills and make home dairy the next step.
It’s really enjoyable.
It’s really easy.
And, seriously, homemade dairy is really delicious. So give it a try.
And for a limited time New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. has put together a special home dairy kit–just for The Prairie Homestead tribe–that will make sure you have everything you need (well, minus the milk) for making every one of my favorite home dairy recipes.
Download my Home Dairy Recipes printable and you’ll find a coupon code for an additional 10% off any and all of your purchases–on the already discounted special kit, or anything at all.
Or you might want to try your hand at that idea of hard cheese after all and order their amazing cheese press at 10% off, or maybe you have some folks on your gift-giving list who would like a butter churn, or butter paddles, or a super-fun cheesemaking kit for beginners.
Enjoy it all at 10%. But hurry! Download the printable of recipes and snag that coupon code inside that download before it expires at midnight EST on Wednesday, November 27th.
More resources you’re sure to love:
You may love learning more about slow food–and how it’s much simpler than you think–in my Heritage Cooking Crash Course.
And don’t forget to snag my Home Dairy Recipes right here.
Listen to the Old Fashioned On Purpose podcast episode #41 on this topic HERE.
My comment is a question. I am lactose intolerant and have been wondering for a while if I might make dairy products with lactose free milk. Have you ever tried or know of anyone that has accomplished this?
Love your site. I follow your rss feeds. Thank you for all the informative articles.
Good to know about this.
Alex Dycus says
Just followed your ricotta method, my leftover whey (every bit of 3 qts) looks very different than the pictures I’ve seen… Mine basically still looks like milk, rather than having that yellowy watery look I’m seeing a lot of. Is that normal? Thanks for the help!
When I make cheese, it takes the fat and a lot of protein out of the whey. The whey is clearish and yellow… unless another cheesecloth breaks and some curd spills in the whey (face palm). Just a thought from a novice, but could it be that some of the fat and protein were left behind? Maybe try heating it back to the ricotta temp (plus a few degrees)? Or maybe more acid to help coagulate? Please someone else weigh in.