A ex dairy farmer who then has to begin purchasing from other farmers has a small heart attack when billed. Never mind the cost of sweet feed, alfalfa, minerals, milking implements, and boyfriends, we don’t see all that, we just hear $8 for a half a gallon of fresh, frothy, raw milk. $6 for free roaming delicious eggs. “Oy, I used to get that for free!” I yelp. (Of course it wasn’t free…)
Okay, so yes, for a buck fifty you can get subpar, pasteurized, feed lot cow’s milk. Some cheap eggs from chickens that don’t move…ever.
Now, relooking at costs. I made 3 cups of fresh farmer cheese last night for the cost of the milk. $8. If we consider how much 4 ounces of goat cheese or farmer cheese costs in the store (around $5) we can easily see the deal we are getting. This constitutes the protein in a meal, so replaces meat. Eggs make several meals and additions to recipes, making it a very economical meal, even at $6.
The key is changing one’s perspective that farm food is the same as supermarket food. It is much higher nutritionally and much more delicious. It provides more meals at home around the table. And helps a farmer. We are a dying breed. Women farmers represent 20% of all farmers. But with up to 5000 farmers calling it quits (or losing, like we did) we need to support local agriculture. We just have to. I’ll be joining the ranks of women farmers again but I cannot have goats in the city we are moving to so no milking…yet. In the meantime, I will support a farmer. It is well worth the extra few bucks.
Here is an easy recipe for farmer cheese. You can use store bought milk but if you can get a half gallon of raw, please do so.
Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into pot and heat over medium heat stirring often until just boiling. Turn off heat.
Pour in 1/4 cup of homemade red wine vinegar (click here for the recipe), other vinegar, or lemon juice. Watch the curds separate from the whey. If needed add another 1/4 cup. The red wine vinegar makes a pretty color.
Once separated, pour into a colander lined with good cheesecloth. I mean it, spring for the good cheesecloth. (Geez, I don’t even have clothes pins anymore. I am starting my homesteading journey again from scratch! I used a headband to secure the cheesecloth to the colander.) Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sea salt over cheese.
Fold sides together and hang off the side of the pot for 2-12 hours.
When finished, remove cheesecloth while placing cheese in bowl. From here you have a very plain tasting cheese.
Here I added 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning. 1 teaspoon of truffle salt. A drizzle of garlic oil. 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. A dash of sugar. Use hands to combine and crumble.
Other ideas would be sugar and cranberries, and orange zest. Or minced garlic and chives. Use your imagination! Put in enchiladas, lasagna, in salad, on crackers topped with jam. Homemade cheese is an easy homesteading staple!