What To Do With Milk You Need to Use Up

Many people cringe when they think about the amount of milk our family must go through each week with our family of 3 teenage sons (plus a pre-teen). A gallon a day? Two? How in the world do I keep enough milk in the house for all my boys? I’ll tell you.

We go through exactly one gallon each week.

Disappointed? Sorry. That’s really all we go through.

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I took this picture back when we used to get two gallons of milk each week. Pretty isn’t it?

What’s up with our tiny milk consumption in a household of enormous appetites? Well I really don’t want to get into a milk debate here because I have not landed anywhere concrete on the “we should be drinking plenty of milk no actually we shouldn’t” scale. I have researched and I have asked professionals and I am conflicted. Some say drink lots and some say don’t drink it at all. We land somewhere in the middle and we do our best to drink milk from good sources.

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If you ever want to waste milk, simply put too much in your high power blender, then turn it on.
It will explode all over you and all over your kitchen and you will be cleaning it up for days.
This is not a recommended way to use up excess milk.

Here are the two biggest (but not very exciting) reasons we don’t drink much milk at our house:

1. Our natural doctor advised that our boys/men don’t really need much milk.
2. Our boys don’t love drinking milk.

That’s it.

While some kids love drinking milk and chug down several glasses full each day, our boys never have really cared that much about it. I take that to mean that their bodies really don’t need it. If you’ve seen any of them lately, you know that lack of milk consumption has done nothing to keep them from growing long legs. Good grief, their pants.

We get raw, organic milk from a local farmer and we drink it moderately. Actually, we mostly just cook with it.

So that’s our milk situation. What’s yours? Go through lots? Hardly go through any at all? Raw, coconut, regular, unleaded? (ew)

What To Do With Milk You Need to Use Up

Let’s just say you got a good deal on milk and bought several gallons. Or you got your regular allotted milk from your local farmer and you can’t drink it up fast enough. We typically finish off our milk just fine in one week (again, I mostly just cook with it). But every once in a while if we are out of town or the boys are at camp – we end up with extra milk we need to use up quickly.

What to do with Milk You Need to Use Up

Here are some ideas of what to do (not that you couldn’t just have a cookies and milk party for the neighborhood):

Freeze It

Milk freezes just fine, although we’ve found that it works best to first skim the cream off our farm fresh milk.

Culture It

I always keep Homemade Buttermilk on hand for baking and so I can quickly make Ranch Salad Dressing. It’s also super easy to make Kefir or Yogurt. If you culture your milk, it will keep longer in the fridge.

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Make Shakes

We’ll go through a half gallon of milk pretty easily if I make it chocolate. :)

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Cook or Bake With It

These recipes use quite a bit of milk (especially for my family since I usually double or triple or quadruple a recipe).

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Those are my go-to options when we need to use up milk. How about you? What do you do or make when you need to use up milk?

We Get Milk Again – I Can Finally Make Buttermilk!

It’s been sort of a crazy few months around where cows are concerned.

You’re picturing it, aren’t you? With that one little statement, you have now conjured up in your mind a scene in which the local cows are behaving in strange ways, perhaps showing up on people’s doorsteps, speaking in full sentences, or maybe climbing onto billboards to paint a message. (Is anybody else now hungry for Chick-fil-A?)

What I’m really trying to say is that our regular milk sources have had unfortunate issues with their milk cows, leaving us without a source for raw milk. Boy have we ever been spoiled for the past few years.

Thankfully, as of last week, we were able to find another source for this liquid gold. What did I do just as soon as we picked up our milk? Well, I took a picture, of course. Then, I shook up a jar of milk and had a glass. And then I made buttermilk. And yogurt. And kefir.

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Besides drinking it, making homemade dairy products is what I’ve missed the most about having raw milk. (Here’s what we did in the meantime, in case you’re wondering.)

Doesn’t it take a long time and a lot of work to make buttermilk, yogurt, and kefir? Only if you consider five minutes a lot of time and shaking a jar a lot of work. Seriously, making homemade, cultured dairy products is so easy – and think of the money it saves!

So there you have it. My fridge is now full of great milk, fresh cream, and all the cultured dairy products I need for baking and making smoothies. You’ll find all the links and instructions for making these products here.

Do you make any homemade cultured dairy products? If so, which ones are your favorites?

What If I Can’t Buy Raw Milk?

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“Laura, what would you do if you couldn’t get raw milk for your family?”

It’s a question I receive often – from those who either don’t have a good source for raw milk in their area or because the cost involved would cause them to take out a second mortgage. 

Well, as of just a few weeks ago, our family is without our fresh, raw milk. So now I get to answer this question from first hand experience!

Why are we no longer getting grass fed, farm fresh, raw milk? (Oh, just typing all of that deliciousness makes me miss it!)  Thankfully, this is just a temporary change for us, as our milk supplier has dried up her cow for a few months. Come August, we’ll be getting the best of the best again. For just $5 a gallon. We are so spoiled!

In the meantime, I could call on other sources around here for raw milk. I decided not to do that for two reasons:  1) I felt it was rude of me to say, “Hi. I need some of your milk for three months, but then I’ll no longer need you again so really, it’s like I’m just using you right now.” and 2) I didn’t want to go to the trouble of figuring out all the details. 

Lazy? Sort of. Mostly I just needed one less thing to do. Or I didn’t need one more thing to do. Or something like that.

So what are we doing about milk during these three months?

We have chosen to buy whole, organic milk from the store. It is likely from cows which were not entirely grass fed. It is very pastuerized and homogenized. But at least it doesn’t have growth hormones or antibiotics. It’s not the best, but it is a better choice, so I’m okay with it. 

We’ve also chosen not to guzzle down three gallons of milk each week like we used to. We’ve used our one weekly gallon mainly for cooking.

I’ve taken a little break too from making yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk. I miss it! In the meantime, I’m getting organic whole milk yogurt from Azure Standard or Trader Joes when I have access. 

I also stocked up on organic coconut milk when it was on sale at Vitacost a few weeks ago. That is great for a healthy variety, plus it’s perfect for making smoothies!

Come August, we’ll be having a raw milk party at our house. I can’t wait! In the meantime, I feel at peace with our choice to buy organic milk from the store. 

What kind of milk works for your family? Raw milk, organic milk, regular milk, no milk, coconut milk, goat milk?  (Wow, look at all the choices!)

Make Your Own Yogurt and Cream Cheese

How to Make Homemade Yogurt

You can make your own yogurt and cream cheese, and it is not hard! You don’t have to have any fancy equipment (and when you see my pictures, you’ll believe it!). Not only will this save you money, you’ll have yogurt and cream cheese that is very good for you! Try making this yogurt, then add your own fruit, sweetener (I recommend stevia or real grade B maple syrup) and a touch of vanilla. YUM!

Here’s what you need to do to make yogurt:

1 quart of whole milk (I use unpasturized milk from a farming friend)
3/4 cup plain yogurt or this yogurt starter

Pour the yogurt into a quart jar (using a glass container is important). Heat the milk on the stove in a saucepan until it is just under 100 degrees.

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Pour the milk over the yogurt in the jar and shake.

Place the jar into a cooler of hot water, cover and leave in the cooler for seven hours.

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There, you just made yogurt!

Now, you can eat the yogurt as I mentioned before, or you can take your yogurt and make cream cheese (and impress the socks off of someone!).

To make cream cheese, line a strainer with a tea towel. Pour the yogurt into the tea towel.

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You need to secure the tea towel full of yogurt and hang it for 7-10 hours (I usually do this overnight) so that the whey can drip off. I’m sure there must be a more impressive way to hang your yogurt, but what we’ve come up with works just fine!

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Here are the secrets to my effective cream cheese-hanging-whey-dripping process (I know, you’re on the edge of your chair!):

I fold over the top of the tea towel and hold it closed with a couple of rubber bands. Then, I use several more rubber bands to attach a long wooden spoon to the wadded up tea towel. Then, I use a rope to dangle the tea towel from a cabinet door. And, of course I leave a bowl under the whole contraption so that whey doesn’t drip all over the floor (because then, my process would not be nearly as cute).

Then, after you can tell that the whey has all separated from the cream cheese (you can tell it’s finished if it isn’t dripping any more), then you pull the whole thing down and scrape the cream cheese into a jar. And that’s it.   It is so simple.

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Sure, you can tell people that it took you hours and hours to make yogurt and cream cheese (because technically it DID take hours to make), but the part you actually played in it took about 10 minutes.