This is the story of how I bought part of a milk cow…
Pictured: Homemade butter (using raw, unpasteurized milk) with droplets of buttermilk still clinging to the ball.
When I moved to Tennessee, I assumed that since I would be living in the middle of Farm Town USA, I would be able to get fresh milk, eggs and produce on every corner. Not true. Unfortunately, our government has regulated what we eat so badly that I can see 700 dairy cows on the way to my kids’ school but it’s ILLEGAL for me to buy their milk. You have to have special permits to sell your produce and if you don’t want to pay $3 for a dozen eggs, you have to raise your own chickens. Bummer.
I’ve been looking into a way around, or through, some of this bureaucratic non-sense and discovered the joy of the cow-share. That’s right Folks, I now own a share in a dairy cow, and I pay Farmer Brian to milk and bottle the cow’s white gold for me. I meet him in a parking lot like some dealer/junkie clandestine exchange, I pay cash, I meet a couple of other Real Food advocates and we exchange information about other hot spots about town where we can get our hands on unprocessed foods, kefir grains and heirloom seeds and then we scatter like law breakers. But, I drive away with a gallon of milk, split into two jars.
The jars are giant mason jars so I can see right through them and the first thing I notice is that the color is “off.” Where is my ultra-pure white
paint primer milk? This milk is slightly yellow and has about 4 inches of this cream floating on top. Oh man, my heart immediately aches to make butter, Real butter, when I get home.
My kids were going to be home in a few hours so I decided to wait for them so they could be a part of this process too. Once we were ready for snacks, I got out a mason jar, spooned about 1 Cup of cream into it, threw the lid on and asked my oldest daughter to “shake it until something happens.” And she enjoyed the whole process, every 40 seconds or so the cream had undergone another transformation, until after just a few minutes there was a bright yellow ball sitting in the middle of a white liquid. She had made butter and separated out the buttermilk. I would be able to use both! (For complete butter making instructions check out this post.)
The color is amazing and looks like it is dyed yellow. This intense yellow come from the beta carotene in the milk since the cows are pasture fed and the milk is not cooked. All those extra nutrients for us make butter a much healthier choice than other fats. The yellow butter is creamy, sweet and nutritious, packed with vitamins and live cultures we know we are eating a treat when we have this.
I will repeat this process again in a couple of days but this time I’m going to let the cream sit out overnight and allow it to “culture” before making butter out of it. The cultured butter will have even more nutritional value, and has an even better taste, than this first batch. It’s truly an amazing process and so clearly “good” in design. These simple things are as breathtaking to me as the view from a mountaintop, or the expanse of the ocean. You know that feeling of awe, of admiration, of assuredly knowing that this was all planned, beautiful, intentional and wonderful? That’s how making butter makes me feel, like I am grateful, and humbled and worshipful.
Below: This is our butter (grass fed cows) compared to the butter (grain fed cows) we normally buy at the store.