Cows are herbivores

Sep 6, 2013 0

Cows

Cows are herbivores (mainly grasses).

A cows’ natural diet is typically a “grazing” diet. “Graze” comes from Middle English grasen,  from old English grasian, from graes grass. When you put the cattle “out to pasture” it is traditionally out to the pasture land where the cows will graze on the grasses that are growing. On their website at cattletoday.com the authors state

“Real cattlemen show their true colors and don the hat of a “grass farmer.” Not “sodbuster,” but yes, “grass farmer.”

“Grass farmers” then do not rely on expensive, oil consuming machinery to harvest the crop, they rely on “machines” of the four-legged variety who can not only harvest the grass, but also fertilize the next crop. Repeating this process over the same areas of pasture if called “rotational grazing” or “managed grazing.” We have seen this ourselves on a small farm here near Phoenix at Farmer Goose. Here they explain “Managed Grazing.”

Cattle were not designed to eat a diet consisting of grains such as wheat, corn and their byproducts. They especially weren’t designed to have candy mixed into their concentrated feed (read here how farmers are feeding candy to cows because corn prices increased.) Grains are an excellent energy source and when cows are confined in feed lots (industrial farms) that energy can’t get burned so it converts to fat. This gets that cow up to weight so it can go to slaughter sooner. It also creates a cow with higher fat content and this is where the marketing machines kick in and call fatter cattle as having “superior marbling for better flavor”, as opposed to the leaner grass fed cows.

Conditions

The conditions pictured above look idealistic right? However, the American demand has been “more food for less money.” Cheaper, cheaper, cheaper! How many of us have bragged about how cheap a food purchase we made was (guilty!) That has led us to the industrialized feed lots which aren’t exactly ecological havens (see Google Earth pictures of a feed lot here). That’s a whole lot of brown by the satellite image. Does this system do what the consumer has demanded? Yes, and they do it very efficiently with the latest technologies. However, it’s not healthy for the planet, surely not healthy for the cows, and it’s definitely not producing healthy food for us.

Nutrition

Grassfed products tend to be much lower in total fat than grainfed products. Grassfed products have an added benefit of having the highest levels of CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid). Studies show that a small amount of CLA in your diet will greatly reduce tumor growth. A Finnish study has shown that women with the highest levels of CLAs in their diet had a 60 percent lower risk for breast cancer. Sources found in footnotes 12 and 14 on the bottom of this page at americangrassfedbeef.com.

The grain-fed diets produce cows that have normal amounts of Omega-6 and are virtually devoid of all Omega-3. As humans, we need a balance of both at a 1:1 ratio. A typical western diet has a ratio of about 15-16.7:1 high in Omega-6 fatty acids. This imbalance can cause cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases per the National Center for Biotechnology Information found here. Dr Weil also has a good write up on his site here on the differences in Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. Grassfed products have 2-6 times more Omega-3s than their grainfed counterparts.

Fats are still fats and fats should not be the base of our diet, so we should consume in moderation and at healthy levels. However, our bodies do need the right fats to be healthy. Eating the healthy fats and eating them in the correct proportions will greatly increase our health and/or reduce our risk for certain disease.

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Homemade Cultured Butter and Buttermilk

Sep 3, 2013 1

finished-butter-h

Homemade cultured butter and buttermilk

The joys of real buttermilk. Sometimes I make butter just because we’re out of buttermilk (joking, but I have been tempted.) When I first realized that buttermilk was just the liquid that separates from the fat when you make butter I ran out and got a couple pints of the common brand name cream that is available here and ran home and (after a little research for instructions) made butter. I chilled the buttermilk and made my usual pancake recipe with it……epic fail! Total disaster. They were so salty we couldn’t eat them. What!? Isn’t buttermilk supposed to make pancakes and waffles insanely better? Now I was on a mission to figure this out. Turns out, there’s A LOT to it.

Some notes:

  1. You want to start with cream from grass-fed or mostly grass-fed cows (see here for why).
  2. You want to start with cultured cream (see here for why).
  3. Try to find an organic cream that is ideally low pasteurized, else pasteurized, if not, then ultra pasteurized in that order. The lower the temps used in the pasteurization process the better for dairy proteins.
  4. If you have awesome grass-fed organic raw cream then you’ve got a whole different process to follow. This post deals with pasteurized cream and inoculating it with yogurt. Your raw cream should culture on its own.

Once you have the right kind of cream and have it prepped, you’re ready to churn.

 

 

“Chuuurn baby, churn!” No? That could be your new theme song that you play while making butter…just a thought. You can just leave that playing while you finish reading (you know you want to.)

Give it some culture!

Let the cream sit until room temperature. In a very clean mixing bowl lightly whisk the yogurt and cream together. Cover air tight and leave on the counter for 12-24 hours. I tend to lean towards the 12 hour mark. The longer it cultures the more “soured” the flavor comes out to be. If you’re new to cultured butter, 12 hours might even be a little strong for you. After about 12 hours your cream will look similar to this when lightly sloshed:

 

cultured-cream

 

Once cultured, put the cream in the fridge for 3-5 hours and chill to stop the culturing process. If you have an electric mixer with a metal bowl put it in the freezer for an hour before beginning. Your mixer might also have a cold water bath accessory you can use. Keeping the cream chilled will aid in keeping the butter firm while kneading it later.

Time to make the butter

Remove cream from fridge and whisk it to blend it back together and pour it into the chilled mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on to a low speed (I set my lift bowl stand mixer to speed 2). You’ll prefer a slow churn. Your butter comes out silkier, softer, and easier to spread. Churning at high speed seems to toughen the butter up a bit. Let it sit churning, for a long time, churning away at low speed (you can introduce churning theme song here)(this can be 45 minutes to an hour churning)(at about 30 minutes start checking regularly) once the cream is ready to start separating it will happen quickly and can potentially make a mess of your kitchen if you don’t have a splatter guard set up (at speed 2 mine doesn’t make a mess, so no splatter guard in the pictures.) The following are pictures just before separation and after separation and a video of that whole stage.

 

whip-cream

butter-buttermilk

(notice the yellow color of the fat)

 

 

Once the buttermilk and butter have separated, pour through a Fine Mesh Strainer over a bowl to catch the buttermilk. Knead butter in the strainer with a spoon or spatula to squeeze out the buttermilk. I love these silicone spatulas as it’s very easy to scrape butter off of them. Try to get every last drop of buttermilk (it’s liquid gold! (culinarily speaking that is)). Pour buttermilk into a mason jar and put it in the fridge.

 

drain-buttermilk

buttermilk

jar-buttermilk

Don’t forget to rinse it!

Now you need to rinse the butter. If you leave any of that buttermilk in the butter it will spoil quickly. To rinse, put the butter back in the mixer bowl and add some ice water (ice included is OK) back into the bowl and mix it at speed 1; this will knead the butter and rinse out the buttermilk. I cover the mixer bowl with something similar to this stainless steel splatter screen and pour the water out.
Repeat this step 2-4 times until the water remains fairly clear. You can also just put the butter and ice water in a bowl and get your hands down in there and knead it yourself.

 

rinse-butter

rinse-water

(water is mostly clean though the butter on bottom of bowl makes it look less clear)

 

When it’s finally rinsed I like to put the butter in a cheesecloth and wring it out compressing the butter and forcing the remaining liquid out.

 

wringout-butter

 

You can leave the butter unsalted, or at this stage you can knead in some salt by hand. You can also put it in your butter dish and let it warm up a bit and then mix some salt into the butter with a fork. Just a pinch or two of salt will be enough to enhance the flavor.

Any recipe for pancakes, cornbread, or waffles…etc that calls for milk you can now substitute 1 for 1 with your new cultured buttermilk and taste the amazing difference. Also, you’re getting the added bonus that this buttermilk is probiotic and full of healthy for your gut bacteria…awesome.

 

finished-butter

 

Again, don’t make this a staple of your diet. Real, traditional, healthy butter is good for you, when eaten in the correct amounts.

Enjoy!

Homemade Cultured Butter and Buttermilk
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This is our method for making tangy homemade cultured butter and buttermilk. However much cream you start with, you will end up with roughly half of it in butter and the other half in buttermilk. In this case our 2 pints of cream become 1 pint of butter and 1 pint of buttermilk.
Servings Prep Time
1Pint of butter 720minutes
Cook Time
60minutes
Servings Prep Time
1Pint of butter 720minutes
Cook Time
60minutes
Homemade Cultured Butter and Buttermilk
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
This is our method for making tangy homemade cultured butter and buttermilk. However much cream you start with, you will end up with roughly half of it in butter and the other half in buttermilk. In this case our 2 pints of cream become 1 pint of butter and 1 pint of buttermilk.
Servings Prep Time
1Pint of butter 720minutes
Cook Time
60minutes
Servings Prep Time
1Pint of butter 720minutes
Cook Time
60minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Pint of butter
Units:
Instructions
  1. Let cream sit on counter until at room temperature.
  2. In a very clean mixing bowl whisk the yogurt into the cream.
  3. Cover air tight and let cream sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
  4. When finished with the culturing process, but the bowl for your mixer in the freezer and the bowl of cream in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  5. Attach mixer bowl to mixer and pour the cream in.
  6. Begin churning the cream on low speed (2).
  7. Churn the cream for about 45-60 minutes, but after 30 minutes check it regularly as once the cream is ready to separate it happens quickly.
  8. When butter and buttermilk have separated, pour both into a fine mesh strainer over a clean bowl to catch the buttermilk.
  9. Knead the butter in the strainer a little bit and pour out (into the bowl) any buttermilk on the surface of the butter.
  10. Pour buttermilk into a mason jar and chill in the refrigerator as the buttermilk is done at this point.
  11. Put butter back in stand mixer along with plenty of ice water and run at low speed for about 30 seconds. Using a fine mesh splatter guard (or something else you have) pour out the water. Add in more clean ice water and repeat. This will rinse the remaining buttermilk out of the butter.
  12. Once completely rinsed, put butter in a cheesecloth and wring out as much of the water as you can. You can also knead it with wooden or silicone spatulas to knead out the water.
  13. Once all the water is removed store your butter in a butter jar or mold and let it chill in the refrigerator (to set the mold if using one). Now the butter is done.
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