Friday, December 23, 2016

Amish, Buying Fresh Milk

Fresh milk, cream, boiled custard, and butter
Four years ago when I first began buying produce from the Amish, I had no idea fresh milk was even an option. It was something I had never tasted or knew anything about.  I began researching and discovered how it is healthier than store-bought milk, so I decided to give it a try.  After tasting my first ice cold glass, I realized there was no going back.  Since then I have learned to make many of my own dairy products from the raw milk.  Not once has there been a problem with food poison or any other type of incident.  Feeding my family safe and nutritious food is important to me.  So much, in fact, that I plan my week around my Wednesday 100 mile "milk run".  I shared details about the community I visit here:  Amish, My Adventures. 

At the beginning of each week, I start saving the extra ice from the ice maker in my refrigerator. I also take extra as a gift for my Amish family's ice chest (which serves as their refrigerator). They are appreciative to receive it.  

After their children became accustomed to me, they asked for a piece of ice to suck on in hot weather.  The next week I carried some bagged frozen popsicles and the little ones went wild.  Now I carry some every week because it has become a tradition I would not miss. They see my car pull in and all come running.  It seems everyone has their favorite color/flavor and it becomes a friendly jostle to see who gets to choose which color first. This week friends were visiting and there were not enough for everyone.  The popsicles went straight into the house to Mom so she could divide them up so everyone could get some.  I never know how many children will be there when I arrive or if anyone at all will be home.  On a few occasions, I have arrived to a note attached to the door telling me to help myself and pay the next week.

Ice and popsicles in ice chests in the trunk of my car getting ready to leave.
On last week's trip, I purchased seven gallons so I am returning the clean jars.  We put sheets of paper between the glass sides to keep the sound of rattling clinks from driving me crazy.  I also buy eggs and return the empty cartons.  

Empty glass jars in the backseat being returned.
They have a well house that is a concrete building about 12' square with a concrete 3' deep trough running the length of the building. They pump well water (which is always FREEZING cold) into the trough to cool the milk.  It works fine, except during the hot summer; after the milk has cooled in the trough, it is put it into a large metal cooler full of ice. Each person buying milk will drop off a little extra ice for them.  You don't have to leave ice but they are so glad to receive it.  For them to get ice, they have to harness a horse and buggy then drive to the nearest store.  As for me, it is in my freezer all the time within easy reach.  

When I get the milk, I immediately ice it down in the coolers.  Stickers are put on top of the lids to identify the age of each gallon.  No sticker - is the morning's milk.  One sticker - the previous evening's milk.  The morning's milk will usually last until the following Tuesday afternoon if I put it in the coldest part in the back of my refrigerator.  The previous evening's milk has been kept in their cooler with ice and will only keep until about Sunday evening.  I know this sounds crazy but raw milk is still good for you even when it sours, it just becomes sour cream, buttermilk, cottage cheese, cheese, etc.  Store bought milk will make you sick if you drink it after it has gone bad.  If I have misjudged and bought too much milk for us to drink before it begins to spoil, I put it in the microwave and scald it so it will keep a few days longer.  I don't like to do this since the heat kills the probiotic bacteria that are so healthy.

Milk jars in the ice in a cooler in the trunk of my car.
The glass jars are recycled one-gallon pickle jars that work perfectly.  It is easy to get your hand down inside to wash and sterilize.  Originally I paid $2.00 for each glass jar then they would reimburse me when I returned the jars.  Now that I am a regular customer, we don't bother keeping up with the bottle charges.  I do, however, pay them when I break one. 

This week I purchased seven gallons because I am making butter and freezing some to send with my boys when they leave home next month (jobs & college).  It will store in the freezer and be thawed out as needed. It gives me peace of mind to know my sons are eating at least ONE healthy thing while away from home.  

I try to purchase a consistent amount every week.  It is not like the grocery store where you can buy more when needed.  There are only so many cows who produce only so much milk. 

If you look at the top of the jar you can see a white line formed by the cream rising to the top.  I like to skim some of the cream off before I freeze the remaining milk in 2-quart plastic bottles.  In the spring when the cows have recently birthed and the clover patch is lush, the jars will be half full of cream.

It tastes even better than it looks in the pictures.

We transfer the milk into two-quart pitchers because the big jars are hard to handle.  They get wet from condensation and become slippery.  We have a system to keep everyone from being confused since we sometimes have quite a few different pitchers in the refrigerator.  If there are no rubber bands around the pitcher, it is milk.  If there is one rubber band, it is a signal that it does not contain what you think, usually cream.  If there are two rubber bands, it is REALLY, REALLY not what you think - a double warning, buttermilk, sour milk or chicken broth. 

Originally the gallon size jars would not fit inside my refrigerator so I used a hot glue gun to squirt glue onto the shelf holder to make the space higher. Now they slide in with a little room to spare.

Inside my refrigerator.
Tennessee has horrible laws concerning purchasing raw milk, it is big government run amuck.  It makes me angry.  If they can't tax it, they want to destroy it.  Anyway, it is "technically" illegal to buy raw milk unless it is for animal consumption.  So to be "legal", I signed a contract with the farmer and bought a share of his cow.  My mistake was asking what part was mine - he snickered.  I then requested if I could name my cow.  He replied his children get to name the cows. Therefore, I am "legally" paying the Amish farmer to milk "my" cow for me and store "my" milk for $2.00 per gallon.  Irritating bureaucrats.

Additional Amish Links:
How to use the fresh milk


  1. Hi Jeannie,
    It's interesting to read about your Amish adventures. We live in a community that has a large Old Order Amish and Old OrderMennonite population. Raw milk is legal here and there are "certified" herds, but the government is always trying to find something wrong with hopes to close these farmers down. Sucky to say the least.
    Sorry you don't live closer because you'd love all of the fabric stores with fabulous prices here that are in Amish country. People come from all over just to buy the fabric.

    I tried to send you an email to wish you a Merry Christmas but no address came up so I'm wishing you a Merry Christmas here and very happy and healthy New Year. Dorothy

    1. We don't have any fabric stores here. It is best, when you can't close the sewing closet door, it is time to stop. (NOT)

      I love being able to buy the milk and am willing to spend the time getting it. I know the government here would shut them down if they could. I hesitated posting it on the internet for fear they would do something and then I decided THIS IS A FREE COUNTRY!!! So there!

      I think the email link has been fixed. Sorry it did not work. Thanks for letting me know. I really am not good at technology.