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Dairy Adventures Continue: Buttermilk

When we first moved to JiuJiang, Hubs met Farmer Hu while on a bike ride. Farmer Hu lived out in the countryside. He had about 6 milk cows. His price on milk was excellent (3rmb/liter), but the problem was that he had to borrow a car to deliver fresh milk to our home. Sometimes he could find a car. Sometimes he couldn’t.

Then, Hubs noticed Farmer Sun. Literally: there’s a man… in a field… with cows… well, hello! He lives about a 10 minute bike ride from us. He also has about 6 milk cows. He offered an even better price on milk. We’re paying about 2.6rmb per liter for fresh milk compared to 7.9rmb per liter at the grocery store.

However, to get that price we have to pick it up ourselves and we can only buy about a gallon at just the right time. If we come too late, all the neighborhood families carrying their empty coke bottles now filled with milk would have bought Farmer Sun out.

So Hubs has to get there around 7 am, after Farmer Sun has gotten up at 3:30am to milk the cows and make deliveries in small coke bottles around the city. (4rmb/liter delivered)  Apparently, there’s a big demand for fresh milk.

Here’s Hubs pasteurizing the milk.

Every two weeks we make yogurt or a block of cheese. This week, we included a fresh batch of buttermilk.

You need to put the buttermilk starter in at the right temperature.

Fresh buttermilk can be used as well, but since that is not available here, we bought some starter packs. They last quite a while because when the buttermilk runs low, you just add more milk and let it set at room temperature. Once the culture has activated through the milk, put the container back in the refrigerator for drinking, baking, etc.

With the rest of the milk, Hubs adds yogurt starter and fills up a bunch of Kerr canning jars. We use canning jars because they fit so well in our fridge.  Eventually, when Sandra gets to canning, we’ll go back to using Rubbermaid. Any storage container will work.

Here’s the lineup of yogurt, ready to sit in a warm water bath for 6 hours. Then, it’s ready to refrigerate and eat.

One afternoon, Schäfer asked for a sippy cup of milk, but I told him that Farmer Hu had not made the delivery yet. He started walking around the living room singing his own song: When the fresh milk comes…. fresh milk!… fresh milk!… first we have to pasteurize it…. pasteurize it!… pasteurize it!… then I can drink it… drink it!… drink it!…

5 comments to Dairy Adventures Continue: Buttermilk

  • sherry

    I love this! I always feel connected to canning jars!

  • Irene

    i am very impressed! you're a scientist in the kitchen.

  • Leigh

    You guys are one awesome family! I am always inspired by your posts. 🙂

  • Julie

    WOW! How fun! I just found your blog from a friend of a friend and can’t stop reading. Reading about Sianna’s adoption brought tears to my eyes! You are so inspiring!

    I would love to find a source for fresh milk in Dalian. I haven’t been able to find any info online. I need to start praying I’ll bump into a farmer.

    Did you buy those canning jars on Taobao? I would love to start canning more. I have been reusing jam jars, but I would feel more comfortable with using jars with new seals.

    • We brought the canning jars from the states. There might be some on Taobao, but I haven’t found them! As for fresh milk, ask around. We know a farmer that delivers milk into the city. There’s a large demand for local milk.

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