Eat Happy, Be Healthy!
Homemade Butter & Ricotta
Quality means everything to me. Unfortunately, the quality I strive to have in my diet is often unavailable, especially when it comes to dairy products. Personally, I have come to find that I do better with A2 dairy products made from guernsey and jersey milk or goat and sheep milk. Many of my clients who struggle with GI issues are often in the same boat. Even clients with chronic skin issues or hormone imbalances fair better with a focus on A2 dairy products versus A1. Unfortunately, Holstein cows (the traditional black and white cows) are the predominant dairy cow in the USA and make A1 milk. Therefore, it becomes difficult to navigate the dairy aisle unless you know 100% that the milk used in your dairy product is either jersey or guernsey (or goat and sheep). To learn more about the difference between A1 and A2 dairy see below.
Research suggests that a common form of cow’s milk casein protein called A1 could potentially cause stomach pain and gut distress unrelated to lactose intolerance. Many thousand years ago, a single gene mutation in Holstein cows changed the type of beta casein protein. As Holstein cows were crossed with other cow breeds, the mutation spread. Therefore, A1 is a type of casein protein found in largest concentration in the milk from Holstein cows (most predominant species in USA) and Friesian cows (European version). Dairy herds in Asia, Africa, and Southern Europe produce mostly A2.
When A1 dairy is digested, it produces a peptide called beta-casomorphin, or BCM-7. Studies have found that BCM-7 has pro-inflammatory actions that can cause stomach pain and digestive distress. For some individuals, this protein can stimulate an immune system response. A recent double blind randomized cross over trial found that A1 casein was associated with increased gastrointestinal inflammation, reducing intestinal transit time (more prone to diarrhea), and impaired brain function, specifically cognitive speed and accuracy. Another recent study found that A1 dairy reduced lactase activity and increased GI symptoms. A2 casein on the other hand does not elicit the same inflammation and immune response because it does not create the BCM-7 peptide during digestion. It has been found to stimulate glutathione (a powerful antioxidant) production whereas A1 dairy does not. Guernsey cows generally have the highest A2:A1 casein at 90%. Whereas 50+% of Jersey cows carry the A2 casein gene. Goat, sheep, buffalo, yak, etc. all produce A2.
Fortunately, A1 casein is not an issue for all individuals. However, if you struggle with digestive issues or any of the symptoms below (or just are not feeling your best despite a healthy, balanced diet) then you may consider eliminating A1 dairy. Common symptoms of intolerance include: hay fever, sinus infections, eczema, asthma, and recurring tonsillitis or ear infections. Remove all dairy for 4 weeks and see if symptoms improve. Then add in A2 dairy to see if symptoms return. If no symptoms return, then A1 dairy should be replaced with A2 dairy as desired. If symptoms do return, then stick to a complete dairy free diet using fortified nut milks, soy milks, or coconut milk products. Fortunately, some products from A1 cows such as butter, heavy cream, and isolated whey protein do not contain significant amounts of A1 and can often be well tolerated.
Now you know why I encourage more A2 dairy products! Personally, I aim to have all the dairy in my fridge be A2, which allows me a little bit of wiggle room for when I go out or am invited over to dinner somewhere else. With that said, recently I have been inspired to make my own butter and my own ricotta cheese from GRASS-FED, RAW, LOCAL, Jersey Milk. The quality couldn't get any better than that! Unfortunately, a gallon of raw grass-fed milk these days is not cheap. At the Bellingham Community Food Co-op it costs about $10 per gallon. However, one gallon makes enough raw butter and ricotta to last me two-three weeks. I think that's worth it!
HOW TO MAKE RAW BUTTER
All you need to make butter is the milk, a food processor (or a good old fashioned butter churner), and a large open container. It doesn't take much active time and you reap the rewards of a golden butter for weeks.
1 gallon of raw jersey or guernsey milk
Pour the raw milk into a large container, I use a gallon food storage container, cover with lid and let the cream settle on top overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning, carefully transfer the container from the fridge to your counter. You will see the line separating the cream from the milk. With a ladle or large spoon carefully scoop 1 1/2 cups of the cream from the top and transfer into your food processor. Let the cream sit in the food processor for about one hour to warm up a bit. This helps reduce the amount of time needed to whip the cream into butter. Finally, turn on your food processor on high and process for about 7-10 minutes or until the butter separates completely from the buttermilk.
Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes. This will be your ice bath to wash the butter. Once the butter separates from the buttermilk, transfer the butter to the cold ice bath. Save the buttermilk for baking recipes, smoothies, or discard. "Knead" the butter, squeezing out excess buttermilk. This process is called, "washing". It reduces the amount of water that is in your butter, increasing shelf life. Once you are done, you can season your butter with salt, fresh herbs, or leave as is, sweet and creamy (my personal preference), and transfer to a butter container.
HOW TO MAKE RICOTTA
I have a deep love for ricotta, especially in the summer months served with sliced juicy tomatoes, crisp middle eastern cucumbers, crunchy Maldon's salt, and fresh ground pepper. If I have some fresh herbs, then I am extra happy. Usually while the cream warms up to room temp I make ricotta. The leftover milk makes about 3-4 cups, enough for me to eat from for a week if not longer. All you need is a large pot, a thermometer, butter muslin, and a couple of cheap specialty ingredients. You can find all the necessary components here or here.
Remaining gallon of raw jersey milk
1 tsp cheese salt (can also just use plain sea salt)
1 tsp citric acid
1/2 cup water
Pour your milk into a large pot and heat over medium. Meanwhile dissolve the citric acid and salt in the half cup of water. Add to the milk and stir. Continue to stir often to ensure the milk doesn't burn on the bottom. Heat until the milk reaches 185 degrees and the curds separate from the milk. DO NOT LET THE MILK BOIL.
Meanwhile, cut an appropriate amount of butter muslin and rinse with water. Line a large colander with the muslin. Once the curds have separated, carefully pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and then transfer to the lined colander. Hang the cheese up on your faucet for 30 minutes. At this point you can add fresh herbs, diced jalapeños, or whatever other seasoning you would like. Transfer to glass food containers and enjoy!
Have you tried making your own butter or cheese before? Let me know if you give this a whirl!
I hope you enjoy my creative, flavorful, and nutrient dense approach to whole foods cooking. All recipes are gluten free.