To answer a few questions about fresh milk and eggs……
Does the milk taste a lot different then store bought?
Yes…very different. If you are new to drinking fresh milk, expect some differences. Some differences I have noticed: the milk is a creamy yellow tint and not white, it has a distinctly different flavor, it also has a different consistency and look about it as well. Our goat produces pure white milk, the cow does not. The color differences in our milk are because of the high amount of beta-carotene in the Guernsey milk. When I make butter from the cream…the butter is yellow. The consistency and look is very different than store bought milk. After it settles a few hours, you can see a distinct separation of cream and milk. Look closely at the top of this gallon of milk and notice the line of cream.
Also, it tastes creamier and more robust. Depending on the cow, some fresh milk has a distinct flavor. I prefer more cream in my milk however, some do not like the fuller, thicker flavor and texture. My children know right away if the cream has been skimmed off because they love full cream milk.
Some times the milk can have an “off” taste based upon what it has been exposed to. What a cow eats affects the way the milk tastes, similarly, any smell or residue left in the container the milk is stored in can affect the taste of the milk. Cleanliness and rapid cooling of the milk are keys to keeping the milk fresh and at peak flavor. We are careful to follow a few key steps and rarely have a problem so far with off tasting milk. And even if we do have a problem, the cats, pig, chickens and dog love the milk.
Remember that fresh milk does not rot like pasteurized milk. Fresh milk sours, which still renders it completely useful to those who enjoy sour milk. I haven’t learned the art and sciences behind sour milk yet…but I hope to soon be making breads and culturing foods with it.
Are you skimming the milk?
Jersey and Guernsey cows produce a wonderful, abundant amount of cream. I usually take off some of the cream, but not all. Although, there are many times that I just stir the milk full cream and all. I use the cream in a variety of ways. The very top layer of the cream, as well as what sticks to the top sides of the jar is very heavy and thick. I use cream also for topping off hot tea or coffee, as well as for cooking and baking. I can shake the cream in a jar for a bit and make whipping cream, sort of like a cool whip only it is real and contains only one ingredient–cream. We love whipped cream and use that just like we use the liquid cream, but it is more exciting for the kids if I put a dollop of whipped cream over their cobbler for some reason?!? I also use cream to make butter. I freeze butter cubes in ice trays and store them in baggies until use. The liquid left over after the cream has turned into butter is buttermilk which makes wonderful pancakes and biscuits. I also use the milk to make kefir, which is a yogurt like fermented drink similar to a drinkable yogurt.
Today, I made butter using the cream off of one gallon of milk. I ended up with what would be the equivalent of two sticks of good raw fat…real butter. Notice how yellow the butter is. The jar in the back ground is my jar of buttermilk that I have been collecting over the last few days. I will probably use it to make pancakes. Buttermilk gets more acidic as the days go by, so depending on how you like your buttermilk, you can adjust the flavor by letting it sit or by calming down the flavor by adding more milk to it. I freeze the butter cubes like this and pop them out into a container or freezer baggie.
How many chickens do you have, and how many eggs do you get?
Well, not enough. We only have 7 hens, but recently, if we collect 5 eggs each morning, we consider that a good egg collecting day. Evidently we have hens that are laying somewhere else. Recently, my boys found a hen sitting on a nest of 12 eggs in the barn loft. Unfortunately for her, her sitting was in vain seeing that we do not own a rooster. We have 10 smaller chicks that we are raising to increase our egg supply, but working on increasing it to about 20 to 25 layers to meet the needs of our family.