Milking and Making Cheese

Recently I had the opportunity to visit a small local farm and milk a cow.  Now, before you ask, no, it's not on my bucket list of things to do.  Honestly, I don't have one.  Just get 'er done when you can.

The owner of the farm is fellow foodie.  He put out the word that he was offering sessions at his farm, where you would have the opportunity (for a reasonable fee) to milk a cow, then make some fresh cheese.  As a parting gift, I also got to bring home a free range chicken (frozen of course).

I arrived early on a Sunday morning - (thankfully it was the morning after the time change, so I got an extra hour of shut-eye) and my host Bruce greeted me at the door.  Wearing my Wellingtons, we headed off to the pen where the cows were.  There were two Jersey cows in there.  One was very friendly and kept licking my jacket, my jeans, my hands - like a big puppy with big brown eyes (above right).  Bruce got down and showed me the technique.  The udders were warmer than I thought they would be and the skin was softer than I thought it would be (obviously I had all sorts of preconceived notions about cow anatomy).  After a couple of dribbling attempts, I got the hang of it and the milk was flowing - success!  After a couple of minutes, Bruce rescued me and attached the milking machine, which made quick work of what could have been a 2 hour task, if left to my own devices.  No, I don't have a picture of me milking, you'll just have to take my word for it.

We brought the warm milk inside, strained it then passed it through a separator (basically a large centrifuge) to separate the milk from the cream.  The cream looked thick and rich.  I don't think I have ever seen milk this fresh - I'm sure that cream would make some tasty butter!

Milk Separator
The separator doing its thing
Straining milk for the cheese

Bruce used a recipe he has relied on before, to make the mozzarella (from the book 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes by Debra Amrein-Boyes).  I have made mozzarella before, but with this milk (different type of cow probably contributed as well) the colour of the cheese was much richer than the almost snow white mozzarella I've made.  I did learn a couple of things that I will try in my own attempts next time.  One thing I would like to do next time, is to put the mozzarella in a brine to make some bocconcini.

The curd forming, at the right temperature
A little further along, the curd firmer
Using the microwave to heat the curd and strain off the whey
Heavy duty gloves to handle the hot cheese - in this state, it is easy to manipulate
It was a great morning and I would recommend visiting Bruce if you are interested in an authentic experience. I believe he will be offering other workshops in the near future.  Send me an email and I can provide you with some contact information. 


  1. That is so cool! I remember seeing this on Ottawa Foodies, but I couldn't make it. I'll definitely try to go the next time. Did you get to bring the fresh cream home too?

  2. We got to chatting and I didn't remember to get some...but will another time for sure.