Friday, February 19, 2010

The Workings of a Milk Separator

I'm making ice cream this morning and so yesterday I whipped up a custard and put it in the refrigerator to chill. But before I could do that I had to separate milk so I'd have some cream. I got out my bowls, one is about a half inch shorter than the other one and a couple inches narrower. I thought I might show you how much cream I am getting since it is toward the end of our girl's lactation. You need to know the differences between the bowls so you can gauge.
The larger bowl is in the back and the smaller bowl is in the front. This view is after the first time the milk went through the separator. Note how the two bowls are filled to the same height though they aren't the same size.
Here is an aerial view.
This is after I put the light cream that was in the smaller bowl back through the separator so I'd have heavy cream.
When finished, I had a large bowl full of skimmed milk plus one quart of milk that isn't shown and one and a half quarts of heavy cream. The pigs, cats, and chickens will get the skimmed milk. We had intended to butcher pigs this weekend but the freezing temperatures in the day time and the forecast for single digits (Fahrenheit) at night put a halt to that project. If we hung the meat in the garage it would freeze solid. So instead I'm going to make two kinds of ice cream. Not that that makes a whole lot of sense considering how cold it is outside but our grocery store owner told me that she sells by far more ice cream in the winter than in the summer. See, I'm not completely strange, I have company.
While I was separating milk I thought some of you who aren't familiar with the machine might like a sneak preview into how it works. This is the separator without the big bowl on top. See the little hole in the center for the milk to run through? A float, which is a quarter inch hollow plastic disk sits on top of this to slow down the flow of milk from the bowl. It makes a big mess if it isn't in place. No, don't ask me how I know that? You can probably guess.
When that layer is taken off you have this section which the cream collects in to. Remember cream is lighter than milk and rises so the top section is the cream collection area. That's how I know to put the smaller bowl under this spout.
The milk flows down through the hole in the top of the metal piece you see sticking out of the cream collection piece.
This metal component is made of of ten separate discs that you see on the left. They sit on the structure with the hole in the top where the milk flows through. As the milk flows down through this hole it squirts outward through the four holes at its base and then into the discs. I should show you a separate picture but I haven't one and I'd take one but my post today is being a bear to work with. Moving pictures it will barely do and not always where I want them.
So please look at the piece next to the bowl in the upper left hand corner. See the hole part way down. That's where the milk flows out of. You will see holes in the sides of the discs for this milk to flow out from.
This metal piece when all put together sits on top of the cone you see in the middle of the milk collection plastic piece. The motor in the base of the machine causes this cone to whirl rapidly which causes the metal section to whirl. Centrifugal force causes the lighter cream to separate and rise into the higher collection reservoir while the milk sinks into the lower one.
Our old hand crank antique, worked when we had all the kids to help keep it cranking but they're gone. It had eighteen discs instead of the ten that is in this small electric table top model. What difference ten versus eighteen makes, I don't know. I'm not fond of the idea of all these plastic parts but it is the only model available last year when I bought this one.
Now if we only had the yak cow my husband wants then we'd have more cream than ever. There cream level being much higher than goats or dairy cows. Not sure what it taste like but since we have a couple herds in Wyoming, I'm going to find out someday.

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