Sunday, January 27, 2008

It's a Dairy Day

Maybe it's all the white stuff flying around here today, or maybe it's because my son graciously stopped by Reed's Dairy Store on his way back from teaching lab at the ISU campus late last week and bought me some more of their lovely milk and cream, but today just seemed like a Dairy Day to me.

I already make Kefir nearly every week - I like it because it's got all the goodness of yogurt in a more drinkable form. The aforementioned son was on a Starbuck's "Latte in a Bottle" kick late last year, and I cheerfully confiscated all his empties, washed them and reused them. He thinks I'm nuts, but the bottles were good reuseable glass with sturdy metal lids, so what's not to like? I make my kefir for the week, pour it into these lovely little recycled bottles and I have breakfasts to go all week long for my busy schedule. Pop a little fruit puree into a bottle (Hmmm, huckleberry today? or raspberry? or apricot-ginger? maybe sour cherry? Decisions, decisions!) and I've got a nutritious light breakfast that I can take with me whereever I like, for about 20 cents per serving. And I control all the ingredients, including how much sugar, if any, goes into it.

Today, while I had everything out anyway, I decided to make a batch of yogurt and a batch of sour cream as well. The whole process took about 15 minutes. Well, and a few hours to set up, but I don't have to do anything with it during that time. I made my usual half gallon of Kefir, plus a quart each of yogurt and sour cream. More than enough to last a week for us. The sour cream might even last two, unless I decide to make Elk Stroganoff or something else sour-cream-intensive later this week.

It's moderately lucrative to make your own at home, and doing things like this is how I can afford to pay a little bit more for local stuff now and then and still not bust our family food budget. For instance, the cost to make all these dairy products, besides the 15 minutes of hands on time, was approximately $6.50. The cost for these items, if bought in a store on sale, would be about $10.50. It actually would likely be more, because I have never really seen kefir for sale here in the usual venues - so when I added up the costs, I just counted it the same as an equivalent amount of yogurt. In actuality, if it were available, it would probably be more expensive. So paying a little more for our milk in light of that doesn't cause me undue concern. Especially since it's better for us. And it just tastes better, too, which is definitely worth the few extra cents!

Mmmmmmm, Elk Stroganoff. Dang, I wish now I hadn't promised myself I'd do a meatless meal for my next Dark Day Challenge meal. Oh, well, it'll keep!


Pale Ophelia Floats said...

Could you send me the recipe and/or post it for sour cream?

Idaho Locavore said...

Absolutely! The sour cream requires a commercial starter, but you should be able to re-culture it like yogurt culture and reuse it for several batches. I usually can get 6 re-cultures from an original starter before it goes off, which means you can probably get at least 30 batches from a typical five-dose packet of culture, for $6.00 plus shipping.

I got my sour cream culture, and a lot of my other cheesemaking stuff, from Leener's. Their site has a LOT of cool stuff and it's very informative, too. Their prices are some of the best I've been able to find as well, and they have a wide variety of cheese and dairy cultures.

The direct link to the sour cream culture is here.

Good luck and let me know how it goes! I haven't forgotten your cheese, btw - I cut a chunk off and saved it for you for when we next get together. :-)

SegoLily said...

I'm just so impressed with all you make on your own! I'd love to learn more about all the dairy products you make and how you go about it.

Idaho Locavore said...

Hi Segolily - the majority of the stuff I make is pretty easy stuff. Kefir can be made two ways - with a "starter" and with "kefir grains." I use a starter right now because I got a great deal on a bunch of it a while back (plus, I reuse it about 6 times before using a new envelope of fresh starter powder, so it'll take me a long time to get through what I've got in the storage room!) Grains can be either purchased or "shared" from someone who already has them. They look like little fatty lumps and can be reused over and over.

The yogurt is a standard starter, too, as is the sour cream. I also use the kefir and yogurt to make "cheese" by draining all the whey out in a cheesecloth bag for a day or so.

Hmmm, there's a lot more info and lots of links to info and resources I could give on this - maybe I should just make a dairy how-to post on the site?