Now that I’ve gotten into cheese and butter making, and began to approach milk in an entirely new way, all kinds of jars full of white liquid pop up in my fridge. Which is why I had to begin labeling stuff.
Piima is a special culture which can be used to make cultured cream, butter, yogurt, and feta, among other things. I tried all of the above, but because it imparts a bit of a bubbly, carbonated quality to yogurt and doesn’t make a very assertive feta, I prefer to limit its use to butter-making only, where it safeguards against failure, if, for instance, you weren’t 100% precise about separating your milk and cream by a rudimentary method of ladling the cream off the top. I don’t know if you could possibly be 100% precise doing it that way. With piima, you don’t need to be. Don’t ask me how it works.
Piima Yogurt Update: Since I wrote this, I found a use for piima yogurt, after all. While it’s 100% unusable in the capacity of the regular yogurt for soups, sauces, and ayran because it’s naturally carbonated, this carbonation came as a useful feature when I added some syrup to it (elderberry to one batch, black raspberry to another) and pretended it was a thick kefir. Jacob, myself, and Cyrus loved the drink so much that we will now be getting an extra gallon of milk weekly just to make this. Jacob described it as “very drinkable” and Cyrus just gulped it all up. This reminded me of a drinkable yogurt sold back in Bulgaria under a colorful name “Crazy Borovinka” (the “crazy” part was in English, btw). In Bulgarian, “borovinka” means “forest berry” (I do believe), and includes blueberries, huckleberries, lingonberries, and other varieties from the genus vaccinium. Either way, it tasted a lot like what I made, just not carbonated. Note that piima yogurt is quite a bit less acidic than the regular plain yogurt – sweet even – making it perfect for this purpose. You can purchase your very own piima culture here.
This is the homemade Neuchatel cheese I made using a recipe from Rikki Carroll’s Home Cheese Making and her company’s mesophilic starter package that I got from Linda Conroy in the Driftless Folk School’s Intro to Cheesemaking Class. This cream-enhanced cheese is very close to cream cheese, if a bit lighter, but not considerably. I prefer it to cream cheese because I can use skim milk (not the storebotten skim milk, but the milk left after the removal of the cream by the above rudimentary method) to make it, rather than the precious cream which I otherwise prefer to reserve for cooking and butter-making.
Which would be butter like this.
You see the yellow color? I haven’t enhanced or photoshopped this particular picture in any way. This is indeed the color of the butter you get from pastured cattle. This pastured butter naturally has the vitamin D already in it.
And then there is the resulting buttermilk – a byproduct of butter-making, which, to me, means one thing: chocolate cakes!
And here’s the cute baby Cyrus, chewing on the whole thing of Parmesan (not made by me). You can tell he’s my son by his favorable attitude towards diary.