Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Making Cheese and Butter

Saturday, April 26, 2014

At last year's Mother Earth News fair, there was a demonstration on how to turn grocery store milk into cheese.  The tent where they were holding the demo was packed, so we could only get a seat in the very back and, while we could hear the explanation of what they were doing, we couldn't see a darn thing.  So, when I saw a local Communiversity class that was being offered on butter and cheese making, I jumped at the chance to get hands-on.

Turning Milk into Butter

The process for doing this is insanely easy.  We started with making butter, which is essentially just cream that's been beaten into submission. 

  1. Fill a mason jar with 2/3 cream and add the cap back on tightly.
  2. Shake, shake, and shake some more!  This will be a great 10 minute workout, trust me.
  3. Drain and rinse the butter.
  4. Season and serve!

At one point during the shaking, it will feel like everything is solid.  You'll have whipped cream at that point.  If you want to make whipped cream, add the sugar and vanilla before shaking. 

If you're making butter, keep shaking!  The solid feeling will go back to liquid eventually and that means you're almost done.  Keep shaking until the liquid slides easily down the inside of the mason jar.  If you want, you can open the lid and take a look at it.

Once the butter is ready, pour off the whey liquid. Then add water, shake a couple of times and pour off again. 

Keep in mind, this butter is not seasoned, so you'll probably want to add salt, garlic or any other seasonings that you want.

Turning Milk Into Cheese

Then we were on to the cheese making.  The cheese is commonly called "farmer cheese" and it's great as a spread on bread or crumbled on a salad or pasta.

There were 7 of us, so we needed to make a large amount of cheese.  A gallon and a pint of whole milk gave us about 32 oz of cheese.  If you're doing this at home, you might want to cut the amount down.  Using 1% or 2% milk works, but the amount of cheese will be less than if you use whole milk.  It's all about the milk fat!

Here are the super easy steps for doing this:

  1. Add milk to a medium or large saucepot.
  2. Heat to just boiling (bubbles around the edges), stirring constantly.  Do NOT let the milk scald or you will taste it in the cheese.
  3. Once it is just boiling, add your favorite acid:  2 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice or lime juice.  We used vinegar, but I've read that you can use 1/2 cup buttermilk and it will give you really creamy cheese.
  4.  Turn off the heat and let the acid curdle the milk.  It will take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.  Stir it occasionally as it curdles and cools. 
  5. At the Fair, they used cheese cloth to strain the curds out of the liquid.  Our instructor for the class, however, said that it's hard to get all the curds out of the cloth.  She recommended using a common kitchen strainer instead.  It's easier to swirl the curds around in the strainer to make a ball, and it's easier to clean.  Just make sure you clean up immediately, as your dishwasher won't get the curds out!
  6. Keep swirling, and pressing to get all the liquid out.  Don't press the cheese through the strainer and lose all your hard work!

Still a bit wet...this was before I placed it in a paper towel to wick the moisture out of it.

The great thing about making your own cheese and butter is that you know exactly what the ingredients are.  Both the butter and cheese should be stored in the frig for up to a week, or you can freeze them for up to a year. 

Try it...this is super easy!


  1. You guys didn't say if this was homogenized milk from the grocery store... or if it was whole milk you bought from a farmer... which?

  2. Oops...great question! It was just plain ol' Vitamin D milk from the grocery store. The rule of thumb is "the more fat in the milk, the more cheese you will get". And, by the way, it was so YUMMY!


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