Thursday, February 11, 2016

New Lessons Learned About Yogurt and Buttermilk

A little reminder, using a dry erase marker on your glass jars helps you remember the date the milk was taken. This way I know which milk to use first and which to give to the chickens. The oldest of course. Feeding milk to the chickens saves financially as I do not have to buy as much oyster shell to increase their calcium levels. Egg shells are mainly calcium and we like hard egg shells. If I have an abundance of old milk then the garden gets fertilized with it.

I also label my buttermilk cultures and yogurt with the date cultured since they are in glass jars. When you do something like this week after week the brain gets muddled or mine does as to the exact day you did it last. Of course if you had a nice calm life you could do it on the same day of the week. What would that be like? 

Yogurt and buttermilk I've done quite well keeping going. Not perfect but pretty good. In doing so I have learned heaps. My yogurt quality has increased. One gal asked me when I first blogged about it if our goat yogurt turned out slimy like hers. She had quit making it. Ours was indeed a bit slimy but I've learned the solution to that problem and it wasn't through research. It was experimentation and time. I have learned that you need to warm your milk very slowly. I put my electric stove, I wish I had gas, on 2 and the milk takes nearly an hour to come up to the 180 F it has to reach. The length of time it takes depends on how much milk you are heating at one time. Then I either cool the milk quickly or slowly according to whatever is happening around here at the moment and when it reaches the proper temp, I add the culture.

I usually make yogurt and buttermilk at the same time, something new from the first blog post on the subject.  One pot holds all the milk. I pour a quart worth of the heated milk into a sterilized quart jar to cool as the buttermilk needs to be 85. The rest of the milk I let cool in the pan to 115 before adding the yogurt culture, mixing it in, and putting it in the yogurt maker jars.

The buttermilk jar when cooled to temp., I wrap with an old heating pad that does not have an automatic turn off switch. Mine is set on medium. I can do two quarts if I plan on making lots of recipes that week with buttermilk. My family LOVES homemade buttermilk pancakes and biscuits.

The texture of the goat yogurt done this way is smooth and creamy. Time spent culturing varies with the particular milk I'm using. This varies as to the period of time we are in the goat's lactation as the cream level changes. And what the goat's diet is also makes a difference. Right now they are getting orchard grass hay but later it will be a orchard grass alfalfa mix for later in their pregnancy.

 Sometimes it takes longer to reach the desired thickness and sometimes shorter. Keep in mind that store yogurt has gelatin or powdered milk to thicken it but I can do it pretty well with fiddling with incubation times. Greek yogurt is thicker because of the additives or some strain the liquids off of the yogurt to desired thickness.  Right now the cream level is really high at about 1/3, which seems to equate to a thicker yogurt. I sometimes make yogurt with milk that has run through the separator and then the cream runs through again once more which gives a heavy cream.  The lighter cream run off is then mixed back into the milk. 

Did you know that 2 percent milk sold in the USA is only one and a half percent less fat than whole milk? Yes, it was a great sell campaign that made it popular - not the facts. Buy whole milk and add water if you want 2 percent. You are just buying more water with 2 percent anyway. Better yet get a milk goat. 

I can use yogurt instead of buttermilk in many of my recipes and often do. Depends on how many fruit smoothies or buttermilk pancakes were made whether I have more buttermilk or yogurt in the refrigerator.

The other thing I have not done is to freeze buttermilk and yogurt. The learning just never ends. This is handy when the goats are dry as you just freeze milk and then culture once a month to keep things in reserve. Or better yet if you have the freezer room you just keep thawing milk and culturing.

The other thing I want to try is on this site where you use a powdered milk to mix with a culture and it keeps for a year in the freezer. This is often used to ensure a pure culture.
Things to learn just never ends. The problem comes in on how to keep everything going not just trying it once.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bunnies in the Chicken Coop

I really should name these poor bunnies. Don't know why I haven't except our life keeps being turned up side down. A new and not good twist happened this past week but a wonderful thing happened also. You know the scriptures do promise us opposition in all things. We got good news from our financial advisor. We figured out how we could pay for this house more quickly and he was all for it though it meant not investing the money in the stock market.  The truth is he fell in LOVE with our place when he came to visit. He can't wait until we have a bit more decorating done and then he wants to bring his wife.
But back to bunnies, name suggestions would be appreciated as my mind is clouded and weighed down. There are two brown does that are called what ever endearment pops into my head as I pet them and feed them. They deserve better.
This doe is eating wheat sprouts. The bunnies smell them when I enter the coop and go wild. I had some spaghetti squash and I fed them that last week. They liked it. I don't. The chickens liked it too.
Livestock can be rather handy that way. The rabbits had cauliflower too and I don't like that either.  Wheat grass needless to say was a hit also. I raised a couple batches but have not gotten any more going. Last week my wheat sprout project came to a halt too.  Kirk and I thought life was going to slow down a little. Ha! Ha!
Hopefully our family will give us a little break and next week we can get our feet under us once more but until them I have Valentine's Day presents to wrap and deliver. I am not into Valentine's Day. But others in the family kind of like the thing and there is the school party where I need to make home-made graham crackers for. They said healthy snack and I always make graham crackers at Valentines time. Funny but it is the only time of year I make them -- strange.
My mind just won't stay put. We call it SQUIRREL, when it does that in a conversation. We burst out I the middle of one topic of conversation and say squirrel change the subject then flip back to the original. It is an ADD thing in the family which throws other for a loop but somehow we keep pace with several subjects at a time.
So squirrel, I think I will breed the two young does in March for early April babies. The weather has been incredibly warm, fifties as highs all week. Wonder if it will stay? Since we don't have snow pack in the mountains it could be a devastating summer. Our area relies on irrigation for crops in the summer.

Off topic again but I do want to say how much I love having the bunnies in the chicken coop. With the hens roosting at night and the bunnies snuggled up in their cages, the insulated coop never freezes. What a joy that is as the water never freezes either. That saves me greatly on work and broken waterers. Even when the temperatures were dipping into the single digits Fahrenheit at night, all we had was a few ice crystals in the water.   
I'm rounding up an old wood screen door to rework to fit the doorway to the coop. Went to check on one hanging on an old house and may have found another one. I will chicken wire it and put a flap on the bottom as the chicken coop door is also the chickens in and out door. The main wood door has a flap. There are just so.... many projects needing done on this place to rework it into a self-sufficient set up.