Saturday, June 27, 2009
Fast forward to butter
So, it's been awhile. Since I last posted I have started volunteering for Athens Locally Grown. There is a *line* for this volunteering gig, it's so good. For four hours of fondling beautiful produce and homegrown foodstuffs you get a $50 credit towards your purchase AND the take at the end of the night in case somebody forgot to come get their stuff. Yo, I did it once. See athens.locallygrown.net for more info on this cooler than cool system. Anyway, in the downtime between filling about a thousand orders, I get a chance to muse on the goods. So, I decided to try making butter out of the rich, yellow cream from Johnston Family Farms.
The reason I decided to do this is simple. It irritates me when I have to go to the grocery store. I went in the other day for the first time in a couple weeks and I felt a bit dizzy and sick to my stomach with all the lights and crazy processed garbage. My blood sugar jumped a couple of points just walking into the place I think. While I can get all the veggies I can dream of eating in a week at the farmers market, my garden, ALG, etc, etc, (and goddess I am thankful for it) grains, legumes and oils are hard to come by in most local food systems. Fruit is easy to come by, just not so much at the markets yet since they are pretty strict about organic standards. To get a good bucket of peaches at a price that lets me eat 4 a day, I have to go down the road to the local conventional orchard. Grains and the like require a lot of processing and are really hard to do without machinery. Ever try to shell beans to get enough for chili? It's about as tedious as making butter (as I found out).
So, I decided to reach for the packaged butter for the last time and make a commitment to cream, which I did a couple weeks ago and then just put it in my shade grown, fair-trade coffee from Ecuador (http://www.1000facescoffee.com/) and on my peaches. But today I got motivated again and had a bit of an impromptu dairy processing day. I had a full gallon of milk and a half gallon of cream. I've been making cheese (paneer) from the milk in addition to the yogurt and so I decided to do this all in one shot. Streamlining my efforts, I guess. So I threw the milk on to heat and researched making butter. This is a good site: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/113/Making-Butter. (while it goes into *washing* butter, it's not so clear about *drying* butter...think about THAT for awhile)
Glad I decided to multi-task on this one. I am pretty sure what the seventh level of hell would be for me--being that girl who had to churn butter by hand for an entire family... After about 15 minutes of standing there with my hand on the mixer, and not seeing much but bubbly milk, I got a little worried and thought about how nice that bubbly milk would be on my ripe juicy peaches... But I persisted and expedited the process by ladling out the heavier creamier parts and processing them seperately. Presto! Butter. It is soooooooooooooo delicous. I just ate a wee bit on a chunk of rosemary and sea salt baguette from Luna Bakery. It takes a lot of milk to make a little bit of cheese and the same is even more true for butter, but it's totally worth it. I can't wait to fry my local free-range eggs in it tomorrow morning. Good lord.
Now, if I only had a cow. And a bull....