Homemade Living: Home Dairy
Lark Crafts, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Think you must have a Bessie or two grazing in the backyard to reap the benefits of delicious homemade cheese, yogurt, butter and more? What you really need is one of Ashley English’s “Homemade Living” series of books: “Home Dairy,” with 40 dairy recipes and even plans for a do-it-yourself cheese press.
Since shifting from medical office work to homesteader, the author’s goal “was to find ways to nourish both body and soul through mindful food practices” which she shared on her “Small Measure” blog. Inspired by Barbara Kingsolver’s tale of her family making mozzarella in Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, Ashley English says, “I was hooked.”
“Who discovered we could get milk from cows, and what did he think he was doing at the time?” – Billy Connolly, comedian
Did you know that even before there were cultivated fields, our nomadic ancestors domesticated grass-eaters like sheep and goats for their milk and meat? After humans figured out the benefits of “putting down roots (plant roots, that is),” cows came into the picture and dairy use “went global.” Since at least 2000 B.C. butter has been on “the global dining table.” Now most cultures around the world have some kind of dairy in their diets, from some surprising milk sources:
- Water Buffalo
“Home Dairy” shares the history of home dairy making with a solid overview of tools and equipment essential to the tasks, a close-up look at the various ingredients, portraits of cheese makers, and lots of recipes that use cow and goat milk for delicious food and luxurious body care. (No reindeer milking required.)
According to English, today all it takes is “a few gallons of milk and some friendly bacterial cultures” and you’ll “soon be indulging in your own artisan butter, yogurt, mozzarella and more.” No cows or yaks, you say? Maybe there is a “dairy farmer down the way who’s got milk to spare” or grab some jugs right off the shelf at your local grocery store.
In “Home Dairy,” you’ll learn about starter cultures, needed to replace the vital bacteria missing from pasteurized milk. Different dairy products call for different cultures: “cool” cultures make buttermilk and cheeses that prefer low milk and curd temperatures like gouda, cheddar and feta; “hot” cultures for yogurt and Swiss and hard Italian cheeses like parmesan and Romano. And like home canners know all about commercially made pectin, home dairy makers can enjoy the time saving technology of direct-set cultures (direct-vat inoculants or DVIs.)
“Cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality.” – Clifton Fadiman, author
From cultured dairy products to the universal delight of cheese, English tells the whole story. You’ll learn basic techniques and how to make “beginners’ cheeses” like Queso Blanco, cream cheese, mascarpone, feta, paneer, ricotta, cottage, chevre and mozzarella … and then expand your skills to master “advanced” cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, parmesan and gorgonzola.
Reading through “Home Dairy,” I find my mouth watering at the thought of smooth, creamy homemade butter (spread over just about anything,) grown-up mac and cheese, ice cream, Saag Paneer, chevre spreads, fondues, terrines, and luscious ricotta cheesecake.
And it all begins with the simplest stuff – milk.
With family roots in the fertile Red River Valley of North Dakota, Lynn Torrance Redlin has been part of the Cooking Up a Story team for a number of years. An avid gardener and home cook, Redlin is also a voracious reader, and enjoys exploring new information and ideas about our food system.