Tag Archives | raw_milk

How To Make Raw Milk Butter in 4 Easy Steps

It is impossible to buy raw milk butter. If you drink it, you know how hard it can be just to find raw milk. Raw milk butter? Out of the question. Thankfully, butter is extremely easy to make. It takes about 20 minutes. You will need:

  • Raw milk cream, chilled
  • A blender
  • A bowl, preferably with a lip (for easy pouring)
  • A stiff spoon
  • A pitcher of cold water
  • Salt (if desired)
  • Container (for storage)

If you can buy raw milk cream, use that. If you prefer, you can also skim the cream off of your raw milk. It’s easy to do. Just let your raw milk sit in the fridge, undisturbed, for at least 8 hours. The cream will rise to the top. I like to use a 1/4 cup to gentle ladle the cream out of my milk.

skimming the cream raw milkmilk in a blender cream


Make sure your cream is chilled when you start. This will help the butter particles to separate. The cream will first enter a whipped stage, and then little balls of butter will start to form and the buttermilk will separate out. I use a fast blender speed, and this part takes awhile. Maybe 10 minutes. It should look like this once it’s done:

butter and buttermilk raw milk

*If you have been blending for over 20 minutes without results, check to make sure the cream isn’t warm. If it is warm, the cream is still ok. Put the blender pitcher into the fridge and try again once it’s chilled.


I transfer all the blender contents into my bowl, and I try to get as much of the butter off the blender blades as possible. Break up the butter with your spoon to get as much buttermilk out as possible. It’s rich and delicious stuff. From here, I pour the buttermilk into a jar. It’s great to use in cooking. I like making pancakes or biscuits with it.

pouring off the buttermilk butter raw milkbreaking up the butter milk


Your goal is to get all of the leftover milk out of the butter. If you leave milk in the butter, it will spoil. If you wash it properly, the butter will last for weeks and weeks.

Pour chilled water over the butter. Break up the butter and pour the water off. Pour on more water. Press your spoon against the butter to squish out the milk. Pour the milky water off. Repeat. A lot.

I keep my butter in a glass Pyrex dish, so I like to pour the water into there, and then empty it. That way, if butter particles fall in, I can put them back in the bowl. Also, because the bowl is glass, I can easily see how milky the water is, and it’s easy to tell when I’m done.

washing the butter raw mlik


Do you want salted butter? Honey butter? Orange marmalade butter? This is the time to mix it in.

Then put your butter into its container, seal it up, and you’re done!

raw milk butter

Mmm Mmm Good!

By ekwetzel

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Costco Cheeses That We Love

Mr. Wetzel and I love cheese, and we also love a good bargain. This post gives a price comparison for the different cheeses available at our local Costco, and I also have some research to share with you on some of the cheddars available there.

The more I researched the cheeses available at Costco, the more I asked myself if an obsession with raw milk and natural, high quality cheeses is a designation needed solely for American creameries. It seems European creameries don’t care at all about marketing rBST free cheese. It is hard to find them boast of how much pasture their cows graze in. And forget about talk of organic or natural products.

American cheeses are a different story entirely. One look at a product page for Yancy’s Fancy cheeses, and you’re bombarded with stamps on each cheese package touting rBST free cheese. In America, we have to designate our cheeses as natural. Cheesemongers go to great lengths to let cheese lovers know they are local, small, artisan and care about the quality of their goods.

It leaves me wondering if the standard in America is over-industrialization, and if the standard in Europe is locally sourced, carefully crafted, artisan cheeses. In the USA, the bigger the brand, typically it is a sign of decreased cheese quality. Is this also the case in Europe? I will keep digging! For now, this is what I have uncovered:

Beecher's Flagship Cheese

Beecher's Flagship Cheese

We Love Beecher’s Cheddar Cheese!

Maybe it’s because Beecher’s is a Washington creamery, and we live 45 minutes away from their home base at Pike Place Market in Seattle. My favorite aspect of Beecher’s cheese is going to their cheese shop and eating fresh cheese curds. In their cheese case, there are dozens of cheeses from Washington and Oregon state creameries. Not only do they make great cheese, they respect it, seem it out, and share it with others.

The three types of Beecher’s available at Costco are:
– No woman cheese
– Marco Polo
– Flagship, 1 year aged

Facts from Beecher’s website:

All Beecher’s products have no rBST added – made exclusively from the milk from a single, local herd of untreated cows. (link)

No raw milk cheese. Beecher’s butter and cheese are made from pasteurized milk.

Beecher’s has a commitment to pure, fully-flavored food, and educating others about pure food (link). How could I expect any less from a Seattle cheesemonger than to be an educating activist? So fitting!

Yancy's XX-Sharp ‘Ol Timer Tackle Box “Chedda” – all natural raw milk cheese

Yancy's XX-Sharp ‘Ol Timer Tackle Box “Chedda” – all natural raw milk cheese

We Love Yancy’s Fancy Cheddar!

The first time Mr. Wetzel and I tasted Yancy’s cheese was at the cheese festival in Pike Place Market, held once a year. After tasting dozens of free cheese samples, Yancy’s was one of our favorites, and one of the only cheeses we took home with us at the end of the day.

I was thrilled to find this cheddar at Costco. Yancy’s is a small creamery in upstate New York. Their cheeses are rBST free. Their cows are grass-fed; according to the website, Yancy’s is dedicated to “utilizing local milk supply, which offers some of the highest quality milk in the United States” (link).
In addition, Yancy’s uses raw milk in their cheeses, where permitted by USA laws (in three of their sharp cheeses, link). That’s right: you can actually buy a delicious, artisan, raw milk cheese from your local Costco superstore. Amazing!

The three Yancy’s cheeses available at Costco are:
– XX-Sharp ‘Ol Timer Tackle Box “Chedda” – all natural raw milk cheese
– Jalapeno & Peppadew
– Smoked Gouda

Kerrygold Dubliner Cheddar

Kerrygold Dubliner Cheddar

Who doesn’t love Kerrygold?!

I see it in blogs and I hear it from my friends: Kerrygold is a real winner. So, I want to include it in my list; however, I haven’t had it in a while. I keep buying other artisan brands. Kerrygold Dubliner cheddar is available at Costco.

Is the cheese made with raw milk? I don’t know. Is it rBST free? I can’t figure it out. Natural? Organic? No mention to be found. On their site, Kerrygold boasts, “We rely on a cooperative of small dairy farmers with centuries of cheese-making traditions to turn the rich, sweet milk that is produced into the finest cheese and butter in the world.” (link)

Tillamook Extra Sharp White Cheddar

Tillamook Extra Sharp White Cheddar

We Love Tillamook Cheddar!

Seriously. I know Tillamook is a big producer. They aren’t considered an artisan cheese company. But compared to other big companies, they do a lot right. And, If the budget is tight, a block of Tillamook can stretch a lot father than a wedge of another, higher quality brand.

Plus, it tastes good.

A lot of good details about Tillamook cow care can be found on their site. Here are the basics:
– The cows are not given artificial growth hormones.
– Tillamook does not require that their cows be pastured, but it is typical for cows to be let out to pasture during warm weather months (March through November)
– Antibiotics are only used when a cow gets sick and needs medical care, which sounds like an uncommon occurrence.

Here’s a chart of the cheeses currently available at our local Costco, along with their prices, followed by pictures of the cheeses. If you have questions or comments, or extra info on Costco cheeses, I invite you to please comment below!

By ekwetzel

costco cheese chart

Beecher's No Woman Cheese

Beecher's No Woman Cheese

Beecher's Marco Polo Cheese

Beecher's Marco Polo Cheese

Yancy's Fancy Jalapeno & Peppadew; Smoked Gouda

Yancy's Fancy Jalapeno & Peppadew; Smoked Gouda

Tillamook Pepper Jack

Tillamook Pepper Jack

Tillamook Colby Jack

Tillamook Colby Jack

Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar

Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar

President's Feta

President's Feta

President's Chevre

President's Chevre

Henri Hutin Brie Couronne

Henri Hutin Brie Couronne

English Coastal Cheddar

English Coastal Cheddar

English Stilton

English Stilton

Villacenteno Manchego Cheese

Villacenteno Manchego Cheese

Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda

Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda

Wensleydale with Cranberries

Wensleydale with Cranberries

Champignon Cambozola

Champignon Cambozola

Le Delice de Bourgogne

Le Delice de Bourgogne

Emmi Le Gruyere

Emmi Le Gruyere

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Trader Joe’s Raw Milk and Pastured Cheeses

Trader Joes Cheese Case

Trader Joes Cheese Case

Trader Joe’s has a large selection of cheeses, and their cheese is very affordable, compared to other supermarkets and specialty food stores.  My friend, Lydia, had a conversation with blogger Ann Marie (aka: Cheeseslave) on facebook discussing the cheese selection at Trader Joes. The conversation was so educational, I had to share it with you all. Today when I was at Trader Joe’s, I took pictures of the cheeses that they discussed. Below is an edited version of their back-and-forth:

LYDIA asks CHEESESLAVE: At Trader Joe’s I have the choice between raw milk cheese from cows not treated with rBST or cheese from grass-fed/pastured milk that has been pasteurized (Kerry Gold and New Zealand cheddar). Which is better?

Trader Joes Cheese Case Kerry Gold

Kerry Gold - Dubliner Cheddar

CHEESESLAVE : With no other information, I would go for the Kerrygold. You can ask TJ’s where there cheeses (and other products) come from — they always happily divulge the info to me when I ask. Ask them where the raw milk cheese comes from — which farm. I think it’s good to pester them about this stuff so they will be better about labeling.

Trader Joes Cheese Case New Zealand cheddar

New Zealand Cheddars

The New Zealand cheddar is good too. Grass-fed pasteurized cheese is better than raw milk cheese that is not necessarily from cows eating grass. They need the grass to produce the vitamin K2!

LYDIA:  That’s good to know. They do carry a few great European cheeses that are raw (Morbier, Comte, an Abbaye cheese, a cave-aged Tomme, and the Italian grating cheeses) and I assume those are probably grass-fed because Europe hasn’t caught up with the industrial farming. But the raw-milk cheddar is from New York. I’ll ask them about it – but it’s definitely pretty white in color.

CHEESESLAVE : I don’t think it’s safe to assume that the cheeses from Europe are all grass-fed.

LYDIA: I was inspired to do some research! Here it goes:

Trader Joes Cheese Case Parmesean Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano Parmesean Cheeses

Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano Parmesean Cheeses

Parmigiano Reggiano (which TJ’s sells at a comparatively reasonable price) may only be made from grass and forage-fed milk.

Grana Padano cows may be fed silage though-bummer, I guess the cheap price reflects the quality.

Pecorino Romano Raw milk cheese

Pecorino Romano

Pecorino Romano may only be made from milk of sheep who have grazed a particular combination of grasses and nothing else.

Raw milk cheese trader joes comte


Comte “cows may only be fed fresh, natural feed, with no silage” according to Wikipedia. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but it could certainly include grain.

Raw milk cheese trader joes Abbaye St. Mere Morbier

Abbaye St. Mere and Morbier cheeses

Morbier is only made in Jura mountain villages, so I think it’s safe to assume that it’s at least partially grass-fed.

Abbaye St. Mere is made at Trappist monasteries-so I make a similar assumption. I have a hard time picturing monks shoveling silage into feed pens, but maybe I’m wrong!

I would suggest though that Europe does not have access to all the cheap corn, which our industrial farmers use with abundance as cattle feed, and there is a much greater sense of the importance tradition there. Certain cheeses and meats have to be made the way they always have been – right down the animals’ diets. *end conversation*

Trader Joe’s Raw Milk and Pastured Cheeses chart comparisonThank you Lydia and Cheeseslave for your insights into this microcosm of the wild and wonderful work of cheese. I created a chart to summarize the cheese choices discussed in this blog post. I hope to find more resources to guide buying decisions. Do you have a resource that explains or delves into the quality of cheeses? Do you know of a local creamery that does things well? Please, share your experiences!

By ekwetzel

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Please Help Estrella Family Creamery

Raw milk creameries and the FDA don’t get along. It’s a pity. And it seems the creameries get the raw end of that deal.

The Estrella Family Creamery is a local, Washington raw milk creamery. Check out this blog post I just found by Debs from seattlelocalfood.com about the FDA’s seizure of the Estrella Family Creamery’s cheeses:


Here’s a picture of the Estrella family, from their website:

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where eating real, whole foods wasn’t such a difficult thing for our society as a whole to accept and understand? Why do local creameries get treated with such scorn and mistrust by the FDA? Good food is good for people to eat, tricky for people to find, and difficult for people to make. The last thing we need is a legal system that makes it harder to grow this small sector of our economy, especially for small family farms who don’t employ a team of corporate lawyers to defend themselves.

By ekwetzel

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Skimming the Cream

There are many dairy products out there that line the walls of supermarket refrigerators, but all the different milky makes and models come from one place: milk!

It’s easy to make your own skim milk, whole milk, half and half, cream and heavy whipping cream from raw milk right from your local farm.  Once you get your fresh dairy home, just leave it in the fridge overnight, or for 8 hours, and let the cream rise to the top.  Then, skim the cream off the top of the milk.  We drink milk from Jersey cows, and any given week we can get 2-4 cups of cream from a gallon of milk; cream-tastic!

In order to manage this farm-centric milk method, we do not search through an aisle of different colored containers and differently stamped expiration dates.  The tools that I use are:
–    Containers for the milk (I use glass jars re-purposed from old bottles of Golden Glen Creamery milk)
–     A screwdriver, to loosen the lid of the jar
–    Measuring cups or a ladle
–    A funnel
All the dairy products we glean from this gallon of raw local milk are farm fresh and fantastic.

Here is a little video I put together that shows how easy it is to skim the cream off your own milk. At the end, I even threw in a quick little dessert perfect for the summertime…especially summer in the Pacific Northwest where cherries are abundant.  This dessert calls for no sugar: just make some whipped cream and dollop it on top of your fresh, cut cherries (strawberries, peaches and other fresh fruit make delicious substitutes, as well). The richness of the whipped cream and the sweetness of the fresh fruit leave you wondering how anyone could choose an artificial sugar overdose when presented with such a sweet and balanced alternative.

A note on raw milk and freshness: you can get raw milk from local health food stores (locally, Marlene’s carries a couple brands), but I have found that the milk loses a special quality by traveling those first few days.  After raw milk has been allowed to sit in the fridge for a week and a half to two weeks, it’s still drinkable (i.e. doesn’t smell or taste sour), but the creamy parts of the milk tend to separate and ball up a little.  I find this texture quite unappealing. I prefer the farm-fresh milk; and, if I ever think we won’t use up the rest of our gallon by week’s end, I’ll flip through my cookbooks for a recipe that calls for a lot of dairy, or transform the milk into yogurt.

We pick our milk up each week from Meadowwood Farm, where they milk their Jersey cows daily!

By ekwetzel

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Raw Milk in Tacoma

One of Three Jersey Cows at Meadowwood Organics

UPDATE: 4/3/2014

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I can’t believe how often I meet people in real life who tell me they did a search for “raw milk in Tacoma” and stumbled across this post! The raw milk scene has changed since I first wrote this post, and I’d love to share with you my NEW INFORMATION.

First of all, the Tacoma Food Coop is now open for business. They have EXCELLENT dairy options, including several different raw milk options for both cow milk and goat milk. Next time I visit, I will take a ton of pictures and create a new post dedicated to the Tacoma Coop’s current dairy options. Our favorite milk they carry is Blackjack Valley Farm’s raw cow milk, based out of Port Orchard, WA, which goes for approximately $5/half-gallon or $8/gallon.

In addition, Marlene’s has much better dairy options right now for both cow and goat raw milk.

I will try to keep this post up-to-date, but for the latest updates on raw milk sources, be sure to check out the newest comments below! And feel free to ask me any questions you may have!!

Thank you!


Raw milk is milk that has been neither pasteurized nor homogenized.  Mr. Wetzel and I want to drink raw milk from a local dairy for several reasons.  We want milk from healthy cows that are well cared for.  We want to support the local economy.  We want fresh, tasty milk.  We want the health benefits of drinking milk in its purest form.

For more technical information on raw milk, or to find leads on a dairy in your area, check out: Realmilk.com .

It is difficult to find a place to buy raw milk.  Most small farmers who offer it don’t advertise very broadly, if at all.  In order to find the farm where we now buy our milk, I asked around a lot until a lady who works at the CSA where we pick up our local veggies gave me the contact information for Meadowwood, LLC. This option works for us because it is only a 20 minute drive from where we meet for church on Sundays.  Here are the options for milk I have found in my explorations for alternative milk options in the Tacoma, WA area:


20228 SE 400th St.
Enumclaw, WA  98022

Milk is sold in reusable glass jars.  This is where Mr. Wetzel and I are now buying our milk.  They offer a cowshare program which brings down the cost of the milk.


17635 100th Ave SW
Vashon, WA 98070

Sea Breeze Farm has delicious milk.  The biggest problem for Tacoma residents?  They are on Vashon Island, a ferry ride away.  If you live in King county, you can buy from Sea Breeze Farm at a handful of farmers markets in the Seattle area.

Cows from Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon Island

in Gig Harbor

Contact Chris Schlicht at (253) 884 7840

I have yet to visit this farm, but I earnestly want to.  ChristiPaul Farm’s greatest attraction for me is the fact that whenever you buy milk, you receive milk from only one cow.  Their milks are not mixed.  This is an overwhelmingly idealistic thought for me, taking real milk to another level.


2951 S. 38th St.
Tacoma, WA 98409

Marlene’s carries two raw milk options: cow milk from the Dungeness Valley Creamery and goat milk from the St. John Creamery, both in Washington.  While Marlene’s is the closest retail spot, the milk is noticeably less fresh and flavorful than the milks we have purchased directly from the farm.  Given the choice between Marlene’s raw milk and Golden Glen Creamery’s, I opt for the latter.


Available at Top Foods in Tacoma, or through Spud Seattle’s delivery system.

Milk from the Golden Glen Creamery is pasteurized, but it is not homogenized.  They make a variety of dairy products, including cheeses, butter and cream top milk.  We save our glass bottles from Golden Glen because they are easier to pour from than the glass jars our milk comes in from Meadowwood, LLC.

Photo courtesy of Golden Glen’s Facebook Page

Do you have a raw milk testimonial?  What resources for locating raw milk do you have to share?

By ekwetzel

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Making Yogurt Make Itself

The first time I experienced homemade yogurt was in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. It was around 1993, I was in middle school and my parents were in missionaries in the former Soviet Block country. We were in the Kotsakovi home, and my future sister-in-law’s mother pulled a bowl off the top of the fridge, removed the towel that covered it, and poured the lumpy white liquid into jars that went into the fridge. I remember eating long meals at the Kotsakovi house, filled with colorful conversation and dishes. Yogurt came out towards the end of the meal; we would add jam made from wild strawberries or blueberries to it as a dessert. The yogurt was tangy, fresh, and alive.

In America, a typical cup of yogurt pales in comparison. In our home, we have typically eaten Trader Joe’s Greek style yogurt or FAGE yogurt, and we use this thick yogurt also as sour cream. This week, I tried my hand as making my own yogurt at home, using FAGE as a starter & this recipe, courtesy of Michael Reeps. While Michael recommends waiting 7 hours, I waited 8.5 hours and the yogurt was still not thick enough for me. Next time I am going to try waiting 10 hours.

I tried blending a banana/vanilla yogurt for Mr. Wetzel, similar to the Banilla yogurt at Trader Joes that he likes. I blended a pint of yogurt with 2 bananas and a vanilla bean in my blender, after the yogurt had chilled in the fridge overnight. The yogurt came out watery and the flavor proportions were off; next time I will try to blend it before chilling in the fridge, and I will use 1 banana and vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean.

Recipe for Homemade Yogurt

By ekwetzel

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