Creme De La Creme - Home on the Range Blog at - 265333

Home on the Range

Creme de la Creme 
Jan. 25, 2012 12:08 pm 
Updated: Feb. 3, 2012 4:19 am

Check out the cream line on these jars of milk. EmmaLouMoo is not ALWAYS this generous, but I do get a half gallon of heavy cream from her every day.

As I bump along in my life, it occurs to me how much nicer a lot of homemade products are and how expensive it is to buy them. 

I can’t help but think how throughout my lifetime they vilified butter and pushed margarine, only to later discover margarine is very unhealthy for you, whereby real butter actually has many health benefits and as a complete product is good for you. I have to be suspect of something that never goes bad...I heard margarine is 1 molecule shy of being plastic and I suspect its true. Cool whip is another product I find disturbingly stable.

The same vicious and biased battle has been waged over Crisco and Lard (look up the history of it, Crisco was not even meant to be food.) The egg has been victimized as well as real milk, grains and just about everything else. I just can’t bring myself to eat substitutes. There is nothing like the real thing and I believe God knew what He was doing when He put it all together for us. I don’t think you can improve on raw ingredients.

I for one, cannot survive eating just vegetables and even if I could, there would not be much satisfaction in it for me. I have to consider that no matter what I eat, if its not done in moderation and  balance, even WATER can be toxic. Yes, there is a woman who died from drinking too much water. She did it all at once but none the less, it proves my point. The food is not the problem. Our appetites and behaviors are the problem.

I had to chuckle as I read a post about someone's grandfather. Apparently Grandma had passed away and he was living along and in his 90's.

She said he stubbornly refused help from anyone for anything, from doing his own housework and even gardening. She thought maybe he would accept an offer of homemade meals, and made the comment 

"He doesn't eat healthy like we do, he eats things like meat and potatoes and such."

...and yet he is 90, and lives independently. That says something about so called ‘healthy eating’ to me.

So much of our life is centered around food. We have ‘dinner parties’, meet people at restaurants, have folks over for meals, plan dates around food, fond memories and character are built around the family dinner table and it’s the gathering place for most all holiday celebrations. It’s just a very important part of life and sustenance, there is no getting around it. 

To me, if it’s real food, its ok to eat. Everything from wood pulp to human hair is being processed and added to our daily food chain in order to increase profits. Factory farming injects everything from growth hormones to unimaginable stuff into our meat products to increase the weight. Nearly everything you buy in the store has things you cannot even pronounce, much less spell. Nothing is done to increase value, just profit. There was once a time when turning out a superior product was the goal of most companies, now it’s frequently to see what they can get away with.

Along with all the processed and synthetic foods there seems to be a rise in autoimmune diseases (I know, as I am a victim), heart disease and all kinds of other maladies. If we think this is not linked to the way we eat, we are kidding ourselves. I really think my diet in my younger years contributed greatly to the problems I suffer from now. I do know that even though Randyman and I consume an AWFUL lot of ‘unhealthy’ animal fats, because I cook only with real butter, lard and use lots of milk products, we raise lamb, chicken and beef and I feel better than I did years before. I believe this is because our food is more natural and other than his addiction to soda pop and chips, we don’t eat anything processed. I make our bread, our broth, our dairy products and just about everything else. 

I am a raw milk advocate, because I know firsthand, the benefits it has brought me personally. I do, however, understand the need for pasteurization of commercial milk, because of the often incredibly unsanitary conditions it goes through during processing. Not everyone is in a position to have their own goat or cow. Never the less, there are things you can do at home, to improve the quality of your dairy products, even if you cannot get good clean raw milk. You can make your own milk products, saving money, producing a superior product and controlling what goes INTO your body.

So, even if someone is not fortunate enough to have a goat or cow, there are things that can be made better and cheaper without much work, from (ugh) commercial milk and cream. 

Now, bear in mind, I DO have a cow...and goats, so I have never made anything with commercial milk. But you can. 

Some of these things are just plain decadent. You may not need them often, but when you do, why not just make it yourself? WE can still take pride in producing a superior product, even if commercial manufacturers do not. Our friend the chef, lauded the flavor and quality of my butter, cream cheese, sour cream and other stuff, which made me smile pretty much all over. He has asked me to freeze it and ship it to him, as he loves it.

Cream Cheese is almost sinfully easy to make. It’s one of my favorites, as it is practically foolproof and I do so love a good cheesecake. It’s also great to mix up with some powdered sugar for blintzes, or to dump some jalapeno jelly, or chili sauce with crab over for a great dip and let’s not forget cream cheese icing on top of carrot cake or homemade cinnamon rolls.

I use 3 quarts of heavy cream to 1 quart of milk, or even half and half. Warm it to 86 degrees, stir in 2 TBL of live cultured buttermilk, using an up and down motion to stir, not round and round, then put 2 DROPS of rennet in 1/4 cup of cool water, mix it into the cream , cover with a clean cloth and let it sit for 12 hours. I put the cream pot in a larger pot of hot water to do this, so I don't burn the cream with direct heat.

After 12 hours you should have a curd mass, so carry it to the sink, and CAREFULLY ladle it into a muslin lined colander. 

I use a cheese ladle.

Make sure its a BIG piece of muslin as this makes a LOT of cream cheese. Tie up the corners of the cloth, hang it over the sink, or over a bowl to drain for another 12 hours and thats it. I use a big jelly bag. 

Amazing how much money they charge for this stuff in the store.

You CAN adjust the amount of heavy cream to milk to affect both the flavor and the calorie content of the finished product.

Buttermilk, by the way, is a ‘mesophilic culture’. There are other cultures that fall in that category, even clabbered milk, which you CANNOT get from pasteurized milk as all the beneficial bacteria in it has been destroyed. But live culture buttermilk is one type of this culture and can be used for lots of different stuff, like making cheeses.

Use this same buttermilk to culture a half gallon of heavy cream for making cultured butter. The resulting butter will be more flavorful, break faster and give a better yield than just plain old sweet cream butter. I always have this visual of cultured butter at the opera or museum, but it’s just not so.

I put a bit in my jar of cream and let it sit out over night or for a day or so until it thickens. (cover loosely) Pour it into your KA with the whip and a cover (definitely one of those pour covers) let her rip. When the butter breaks, you will have little rice sized pieces of butter clumping up. Strain the new buttermilk into a sterile quart jar and save to culture the next batch and to bake with. I use a funnel and a nifty little strainer to do this. Then I slosh the butter in the strainer under cold water under until it runs clear. I work the butter in the metal bowl in a wee bit of cold water, changing it often until all the buttermilk is worked out of my butter, then I work out the water with a little kneading and shape it. It’s important to get all the buttermilk out of the butter, or it will go ‘off’ quickly.

 I use a couple of different butter presses. I have an old antique wooden press that makes close to 1 pound bricks and a small one that makes pats. You can work the salt in at this point, if you want salted butter. I only salt the butter we will use on the table, so salted butter is always shaped in a little ball to fit my Butter Bell, or in the pats. The rest is in bricks or balls that are measured to 4 oz for cooking. I do this so I can distinguish my unsalted butter from the rest, as it is for cooking and making ghee.

The buttermilk is now used to culture other stuff, make bread or biscuits, pancakes or waffles, or marinate chicken to tenderize it. What I don’t use goes to the chickens who love it.

Another product you can make with a minimum of fuss or tools, is sour cream. My cream is raw and very, very thick. (thank you EmmaLouMoo!)

Because its so thick I thin it a bit so I use about 3 cups heavy cream to a cup of whole milk. Warm it to about 80 degrees or so and stir in about 1/3 cup of live culture buttermilk. Put it in a sterilized container, like a widemouth canning jar or something, cover with a paper towel and set it somewhere warm for a day or so. Like yogurt, the longer it incubates the more tart it becomes.Not too high tech! It won’t be AS thick as commercial sour cream because they add stuff to theirs for thickening.

Because I get 1/2 gallon a day of heavy cream from EmmaLouMoo, (I am talking ‘scrape off of the spoon thick” heavy cream) I make a LOT of butter. It won’t keep forever, not even in the freezer, so every few weeks I make ghee. Ghee is awesome stuff. It’s basically, ‘oil of butter’. It’s about 1 step further than the clarified butter you use to dip lobster or crab in.

 All of the milk solids are cooked out until just the purest stuff is left then it is strained and poured into sterile jars. It keeps somewhere close to forever in the pantry. Ghee has an extremely high smoking point (something like 400 degrees) so I use it instead of butter for stir frying, frying eggs, making cheese sandwiches, etc. It doesn’t burn like butter. Its perfect for sauteing and ...its HEALTHY!

It’s a very popular ingredient in eastern cuisine and I understand there is Ayurvedic ghee that is over 100 years old.

All there is to making ghee is to dump about 5 pounds of UNSALTED butter in a big pot and melt it down. Let it keep simmering until it separates. Skim off the foam that comes to the top and toss it out. It will eventually become very clear and golden with all the solid bits on the bottom. At this point I carefully pour it into another container, making sure none of the stuff on the bottom goes with it. Then I wash out the pot, dry it really well, pour the liquid back in and let it go for a little longer, to make sure ALL the water and solid stuff has been cooked out of it. Then I let it cool a bit, strain it into sterilized pint or half pint jars, cap them and put them in the pantry until I need them.

One of the simplest “cooked” things to make with milk, is yogurt. All that is required is some milk, a little powdered milk and some starter culture. The easiest way to acquire starter is to buy some plain, live culture yogurt at the store, and use some of it to kick start your batch. Then you can hold back some of your own yogurt each time to culture the next batch. This is good for several generations before you have to go back to an original starter again. With a pot, a thermometer, and someplace to incubate your yogurt you are good to go. I already blogged this some time ago, so we won’t harp on it.

Cream Cheese

1/2 gallon heavy cream (not ultra pasteurized!)

1/2 gallon whole milk (not ultra pasteurized!)

2 TBL live culture buttermilk

2 drops liquid rennet in 1/4 c water

Warm milk and cream to 86 degrees in clean stainless steel container.

Stir in buttermilk using up and down motion

Make rennet solution last so it doesn’t weaken and stir in using up and down motion.

Cover with clean cloth and sit aside for 12 hours.

Look for clean break, CAREFULLY ladle out curd and drain in cloth bag for up to 12 hours.

Salt if desired.

Cover and keep refrigerated for up to a week or freeze

Sour Cream

3 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1/3 cup live culture buttermilk

Warm cream and milk to about 80 degrees, stir in buttermilk.

Pour into sterile container and cover with paper towel and rubber band for 24 hours or so in a warm place. (think water heater closet)

It WILL thicken more once chilled but will not be as thick as commercial which has thickeners added to it along with other stabilizers.

Cultured Butter

1/2 gallon heavy cream

2 TBL live culture buttermilk

Stir buttermilk into cream, cover with cloth or papertowel and allow to sit for 24 hours or more to thicken.

Churn until cream breaks into rice sized pieces of butter and sloshy liquid.

Strain buttermilk into sterile jar.

Wash and knead  butter in cold water until water runs clear. Knead out additional water, salt if desired and shape. Refrigerate or freeze.


3-5 lb of unsalted butter

Melt in large heavy bottomed pot.

Simmer until milk solids have fallen to bottom of pot and water has boiled off, removing foam now and then, careful not to stir everything up.

Butter will clarify and become a clear golden color.

 This takes about 20 minutes.

When most of foam has stopped, strain into another container, careful NOT to pour milk solids into container. 

Clean pot throughly, return ghee to pot and simmer a bit longer to make sure all milk solids and water have been simmered out of it.

Let cool a bit then strain again into sterilized canning jars.

Put on lids.

Refrigeration is not necessary.

When you have made these items, then you can make this.

An incredibly rich and moist chocolate cake made with homemade butter, homemade sour cream and topped with icing made with homemade cream cheese. Ahh life is good.

Jan. 25, 2012 12:23 pm
Oh my gosh, that cake looks divine! Petey, you make is sound so simple to create these wonderful products at home, I am inspired. Next time I can get a deal on organic cream and milk, I think I'll try one or two of these! Thanks for the very clear instructions!
Jan. 25, 2012 1:21 pm much information. You just make everything sound so easy. I do make my own yogurt and have for many years. We love it. I have been wanting to make mozzarella. I enjoy your blogs so much.
Jan. 25, 2012 1:23 pm
Girl, you never cease to amaze me!!! If I just had me a cow!!! I would sure try some or all of these things. You make them sound so easy.If I had my life to live over I would want to be you. I always said I was born about 50 years to early.
Jan. 25, 2012 2:04 pm
Petey - Great blog. You know that I am totally on board with you regarding processed foods. It is new impossible to buy raw milk from the producer here in California. My dairy friends have been drinking and using raw milk for ever. They are none the worse for wear. The Heavy Cream & Half and Half that we buy in the markets has been Ultra High Heat Pasteurized..... killing everything in it. It is one of the reasons that the sell by date to often 3 months off. Making mozzarella at home is possible but you really have to hope that the milk hasn't been processed at too high of a heat. I am blessed that my mother never did buy into that nonsense that margarine was better for you than butter. :) She also went against the tide of bottle feeding her babies. She was a Maverick and she didn't know it. :)
Jan. 25, 2012 2:13 pm
I saw you had posted a blog and I checked with my stomach to make sure it was full before I looked to see what was on it :) I agree 100% with what you have said. I'm also a creamy shade of yellow envious of your Emma Lou! The butter I made last year was so good. I wish I had a source for fresh milk but I think I might be intimidated by all that culture :)
Jan. 25, 2012 2:18 pm
all that culture? Just buy cultured buttermilk at the store, most of it is live cultured.
Jan. 25, 2012 2:24 pm
I for one love your blog! Very well said! We have our own chickens and I wish we had a cow! I keep thinking if one just shows up then I know God wants me to have it and my husband won't be able to say a word about it. So I'm waiting on my cow as we speak....(I know I'm half teasing but I'm seriouse too!) I agree with all your saying. I use to make homemade mozz cheese and I want to know why is that so expensive?
Jan. 25, 2012 2:58 pm
Your life IS GOOD! I would rather come to your farm kitchen than the finest cooking school anywhere else in the world! I covet the natural gifts at your fingertips! I am wanting to make cream cheese and can only find ultra pasteurized milk products. Regular pasteurized milk is OK but so hard to find! I have vegetable rennet but need something like calcium chloride, i think it is, to make it since everything is soooo overly pasteurized. Would much rather do it your way... OH! And that cake!!!!! YUM!!!
Jan. 25, 2012 3:10 pm
I have been buying pasturized (required by law)but not ultra pasturized dairy products from our Farmers Market. There is such a difference in taste from the commercial products. If I freeze buttermilk will that destroy the live cultures?
Jan. 25, 2012 3:17 pm
BSM, no, it shouldn't kill them, as I can freeze my clabber, yogurt and other cultures, but it really does work best if you use the freshest buttermilk you can find.
Jan. 25, 2012 3:22 pm
My mother grew up on a farm and would have nothing in her kitchen that didn't come from Mother Nature. As kids we so wanted the junk foods that all our peers got to eat. Your dairy products are absolutely beautiful. Thank you for one more wonderful blog.
Jan. 25, 2012 3:36 pm
Thank you for another wonderful piece of literature.
Jan. 25, 2012 4:04 pm
Petey, you're my hero! I just finished a great book called, "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School" that addresses this very subject - food additives and processed and how it affects our health. One of my favorite quotes from the book... "I refuse to trust my health to a large company whose biggest concern is their bottom line." Amen! That could have been my Grandpa you were talking about. He lived to be 92 and ate bacon, eggs and toast with butter for breakfast every day. Lunch and dinner was, like you mentioned, meat a potatoes along with Grandma's homemade bread and more butter. He wasn't even sick when he died; he was just old. In fact, a week before he died my Dad stopped by and found him out back chopping wood. He hardly ever sat down. Anyway, love your blog... and that cake! Have mercy!!
Jan. 25, 2012 4:13 pm
great quote...that said, I think I am contributing to my own "bottom line". Time to start working on something besides the sweets! LOL
Jan. 25, 2012 4:32 pm
Well written ... very nice blog!
Jan. 25, 2012 4:42 pm
I have a "stupid" question...the cream on top is what you use for butter? And when you make butter do you use a churn? Does it take a long time? I tried to make some with my son and we had to shake it well you can image....But I REALLY want to make my own butter.
Jan. 25, 2012 5:52 pm
The heavy cream rises to the top. I let my milk sit in the fridge for 24 hours to do this. The heavy cream is what you make butter out of, yes. If I culture my cream, it only takes a few minutes in my KA to make the butter. IF I do not culture it first, it can take anywhere from a few minutes, to an hour, depending on the stage of her lactation, what she is eating and the temperature...If you use a KA, I suggest either draping a towel over it all, or keeping one of those plastic shields on, because when the cream 'breaks' into butter, it can start to splash rather quickly!!
Jan. 25, 2012 6:24 pm
JHC Rocketwoman, you've renewed your hero card for another year, by acclimation. Fan-freakin--tastic blog!!! I want an Emma Lou all fo my own.
Jan. 25, 2012 7:13 pm
Petey, thank you for this! I have to re-read it because there is just so much information, but dang, this is so great! Wonderful job :D
Jan. 26, 2012 6:53 am
I love your approach to food. Thanks for sharing!
Jan. 26, 2012 9:40 am
Everytime I read one of your blogs I want to run out and buy a cow! :-)
Jan. 26, 2012 10:14 am
I would be lost without her! She's not only a good provider, but she's great company too!
Jan. 26, 2012 3:46 pm
Thank you Petey! And I agree with the above poster you make me want to buy a cow! lol
Jan. 26, 2012 8:45 pm
Hi Petey, your blog is full of ssooi much great info! THANK YOU THANK YOU for giving us the Truth about butter. It has been about a year since I started buying real butter. Have not regreted it one iotta. I mostly buy it at Costco so it is cheaper unless someone has it on sale. I love living your life through the words you so eliquently put in your blogs. You are a Very rich Lady. You live life on your terms. And I think that is Awesome! Hugs, Patty
Jan. 27, 2012 3:26 am
How inspiring! It is all second nature to you but I am awestruck! Thank you for the education! I have always purchased butter but the cost of Plugra is crazy. Made a small batch of butter once but should rethink it! Thank you! Didn't even know where to start with cream cheese! You are amazing!
Jan. 27, 2012 5:29 am
Great blog, Petey! Brought back memories of my grandmother making butter. One of the reasons your milk and cream are so good is that your animals are grass fed and raised with respect. Mass production cannot allow time or land to do this, so most of us have to settle for poorer quality. You always give me something to think about!
Jan. 27, 2012 6:37 am
Please, PULEEZE adopt me! :o)
Jan. 27, 2012 6:39 am
I have printed the whole thing!!! Now I have to go knocking on a farmers door. :)
Jan. 27, 2012 1:01 pm
Oh, I'm so envious. I grew up drinking that fresh from the farm unpasteurized milk that my great grandmother got from a farm down the road. We churned butter from the cream and made buttermilk, too. It was so good. I drank 5-6 glasses of milk every day. I'm 47 and despite growing up a total tomboy, climbing trees, playing football, etc, I have never had a broken bone. I'm convinced it was all that great dairy--and the homegrown and canned veggies and the homegrown meat. All so good with not a preservative in sight. I miss those days, and I wish I had the access again. We can't buy the raw milk in my state. You are lucky to be living the life many of us long for. Enjoy and thanks for the great read today. Oh, and the looks sooo good!
Jan. 27, 2012 3:18 pm
I think its perfectly awful that people cannot buy raw milk, if that is their desire! So awful.
Jan. 27, 2012 7:40 pm
I'm with you all the way Petey! It's just scary what's at the store. I gave my Grandson and his girlfriend a dozen eggs and she threw them ALL away. I asked her why and she told me something was wrong with them. I asked her "WHAT?" She said, "the yolks were SO yellow, not like the ones from the store. I figured they were spoiled." Geesh! I wanted to smack her. But, then I thought, How would she know what a FRESH egg from grass fed, organic chickens would look? Great blog Petey. Thanks.
Jan. 27, 2012 8:15 pm
ROTFLMAO Cheepchick, if she adopts you, I want to be adopted too! Wwwaahhhhaaa.
Jan. 27, 2012 8:24 pm
Oh Candice, I wish someone would give me fresh eggs. I sure wouldn't through em away thats for sure! Sorry bout her being so young.
Jan. 27, 2012 9:02 pm
Loved the information. I might call on you this summer as I will be making cheese... I might need some guidance. Where did you get your glass jars for the milk?
Jan. 28, 2012 5:03 am
OMGosh Candice!! Our friend said people would do that but I didn't believe him! I can't believe anyone could not tell the difference between fresh, healthy and anemic commercial eggs! ack!
Jan. 28, 2012 5:04 am
I buy my jars online, Rohnda!
Jan. 28, 2012 11:36 am
Thanks Petey... now I have to ask, what site? Thanks (again!)
Jan. 28, 2012 11:44 am
Me again... I found a site that has them for $2.96 -is that a good price?
Jan. 28, 2012 1:00 pm
it is if the shipping isn't too high!
Jan. 29, 2012 4:06 pm
petey, you are a gem! ty so much for sharing!
Jan. 29, 2012 5:47 pm
A store house of information that we can all glean from. Thank you!
Jan. 30, 2012 6:42 pm
This was inspiring! I am going to love trying everything out!
Lee B 
Jan. 31, 2012 3:06 pm
What a wealth of info.Thanks so much for sharing.I am guilty of buying some of the products you have mentioned...but I also feed my family lots of fresh from our local markets vegetables and fruits,can what I can during the summer,and agree with you about butter!We cannot stand the taste of margarine either...may as well eat some plastic silverware!!!I'll keep trying to cook healthier,thanks so much for the tips and recipes.
Feb. 3, 2012 4:19 am
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
My favorite things to cook
Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
My cooking triumphs
Most things from this site, this has been the best thing the internet has had to offer!
My cooking tragedies
A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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