Our Dairy Breakthrough
by Ann Marie Titsworth, Pueblo Verde Lot #2
One of my household’s favorite foods is cheese. This also happens to be one of the more expensive grocery items on our budget each month. In addition to the higher cost, the variety (and typically the flavor) of dairy products available in your average grocery store here is considerably less than I was used to back in the US.
At my own homestead, we are now enjoying good milk production (about a liter per day) from our goat Chuti. This amount allows me to make yogurt and chèvre cheese often enough for a constant home supply. I also get a few ounces of ricotta with each batch of chèvre and the remaining whey is a treat for our chickens. Still, we have struggled with making the leap to the full range of uses we have for dairy products in our kitchen.
Goat milk has an undeniably strong flavor which I would argue is what makes chèvre so wonderful. But how does that flavor translate to other dairy products? Unfortunately not as well. In the past, we’ve had a difficult time eating the yogurt plain (we blend fruit in and chug) and we’ve never been able to drink the milk; even in coffee it tasted too strong.
However, on a budget and with a little one on the way, we’ve been asking ourselves how we can switch more of our store-bought, probably hormone-laden, ultra-high pasteurized dairy products with homemade, fresh products, despite the goaty flavor. There’s only so much you can do with chèvre in everyday cooking but I’m too stingy to use a whole gallon or two of milk to try a hard cheese we may not even like.
Now we believe we’ve had a breakthrough. We started our goats on a new diet that includes alfalfa – a feed we only recently discovered was available here by special order. I made my first batch of yogurt last night since adding the alfalfa and the result blew me away. Previously the yogurt was quite thin and we could really only use it for smoothies (see above note about chugging). Now it is thick, creamy, and deliciously tangy. The first batch of chèvre is drying now and may knock my socks off for the second time today.
Maybe we’re prematurely claiming victory here but why not be optimistic? With potentially richer milk I now have the motivation I needed to try mozzarella and other hard cheeses that we enjoy. If we can expand our palates using higher quality milk maybe we can start to get more from our small homestead dairy production and gloss the surface of a more sustainable lifestyle.