Yogurt, Butter and Cheese!

Since a while before Christmas, we have been making our own yogurt, butter and cheese here on the Farmlet. With a litre of top quality organic yogurt costing NZ$5.00 and upwards at the supermarket, it makes good economic sense to obtain beautiful creamy milk and make our own yogurt from it. We do not make all our own butter or cheese yet. We make as much butter as we can with the cream skimmed off the top of our six litres per week of creamy Jersey milk. We are getting a lot of satisfaction from doing these things ourselves, and it is good practice for the day when we finally milk our own cows.

Whole, raw milk (Yes, the container is nearly half full of cream)

I’d never made yogurt before, and have been amazed to find how easy it is. This is the method we use:

Heat one quart (one litre) of milk until bubbly but not yet boiling. Take it off the heat and pour it into a shallow container. Cool it until it’s not too hot to hold your finger in it for a few seconds, then stir in a generous tablespoon of yogurt (from your last batch, or a plain commercial yogurt with live cultures). Cover the container, and put it somewhere warm. The aim is to keep it at above body temperature while the cultures grow. We do this by putting it on top of the hot water cylander. It takes about eight hours for the yogurt to set up.

These instructions are not very scientific, but we do end up with tasty yogurt! Experienced yogurt-makers might have better advice than this. Admittedly, out yogurt does not seem to keep as well as the kinds I used buy from the supermarket. Maybe that’s because we are not very careful about regulating the temperature during the process. . . ?

When I was a child, we used to enjoy helping our grandparents make butter out of the cream from their house cow’s milk. They had a big butter churn. Here on the Farmlet, we just put the cream in a jar and shake it until it turns into butter. My grandparents used to have special wooden butter pats for squeezing the buttermilk out of the butter. Kevin and I just rinse it and squeeze it by hand or with a wooden spoon. Butter is one of Kevin’s favourite foods, but he’d never made it before. The first time he saw the golden curds of butter separate from the buttermilk in the jar he was shaking, his face lit up and he let out a yelp of delight. He could hardly believe how easy it was to bring about the magical transformation of cream into butter.

It is like magic; no, it is magic

A lump of creamy goodness is born

Pat out the extra buttermilk

We make a simple (not aged) farmer cheese out of the buttermilk from the butter making, by heating it to almost boiling and curdling it with vinegar (2 tablespoons of vinegar to 1 quart of milk and/or buttermilk).

Balsamic vinaigrette, tomatoes, basil and lots of soft, white cheese

Once it curdles, take it off the heat, and drain it through a strainer lined with cloth. You can add salt to the curds at this stage if you like. This soft white cheese is good in curry, or served with balsamic vinaigrette, tomatoes and basil.

21 Responses to “Yogurt, Butter and Cheese!”

  1. Iorwerth says:

    Congratulations on your butter and yogurt.

    A while ago, we used to make kefir and kefir cheese. They are ever so simple to make and, for many, easier to digest than butter and cream. They keep quite well, too. A very generous and kind Mr. Dom Anfiteatro (http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html) supplied us with our first kefir culture, which has lasted years and been passed along to many others.

    Perhaps you could try making kefir, too!

  2. Caroline - UK says:

    You can make yoghurt cheese out of some of your yoghurt – strain yoghurt overnight in a butter-muslin-lined colander. I add a bit of salt and pepper when I make sandwiches with yog cheese, cucumber/tomato/whatever. It keeps OK in the ‘fridge for a while in a closed container but gets sharper as it gets older, just like yoghurt. The whey can be used in breadmaking

  3. Devin says:

    Amazing pictures. This post has inspired me to make my own yogurt, cheese, and butter, but I don’t know where I could find the whole raw milk, as I think it’s illegal. Do you have any suggestions for where I might find whole raw milk in a city?

  4. meryl says:

    The butter goes quicker if you put a (glass) marble in and shake it all about. Other than that all I have to say is yum…

  5. Sonya says:


    I just love reading all your updates and I was just amazed at how simple it is to make your own butter, cheese and yogurt!
    My partner and I are constantly, every day looking at farmlets in NZ to buy! I just cant wait.

  6. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for all the comments and tips. That’s a great idea about putting a marble in the jar with the cream. We’d like to try it. I guess we’ll be shopping for a marble next time we are in town!
    We are actually big fans of yoghurt cheese already. I didn’t know you could use the whey in bread, though. That sound like a good idea. So far, we have been saving the whey and adding it to our lacto-fermented vegetable projects to give them a jump-start in the souring process.
    I like the sound of the kefir cheese. We are in the process of trying to acquire some kefir grains at the moment (I think I may have found a source in New Zealand). Once we get the kefir grains, it would certainly be fun to have a go at making the cheese. How do you make it?
    Devin. . . about obtaining the raw milk: The Weston A. Price Foundation maintains a list of people in different regions who have information about the local availability of raw milk. Where possible (depending on legality and logistics),they would put you in touch with a supplier of raw milk. If you can’t find out who the Weston A. Price contact person is for your city, feel free to email me about it. I have their list, so if you tell me where you are, I can look up your local contact person for you.

  7. Devin says:

    Rebecca, thanks — I did a little research (!! … sigh, I know. so difficult) last night and found lots of good resources, particularly Real Milk. There are none in my area but when we go to visit my grandparents there’s a dairy farm on the way, so I might be able to obtain some occasionally. Thanks for the inspiration, I look forward to making my own butter. If I remember I’ll be sure to let you know how it went.

    – Devin

  8. Iowerth says:

    Make your kefir cheese much as you would make yogurt cheese:

    First make your kefir. Then, strain out the grains, and place the kefir in a porous container such as a cloth bag or a large paper coffee filter (as we did, supporting it with an old coffee filter holder) so that the whey can be collected as it drips out.

    Cover and place your kefir in the fridge and in about day, after which the whey should have all dripped out, you have kefir cheese. Add some salt and herbs (to taste) to your cheese and enjoy.

    And, as was previously mentioned by Caroline, do save the whey and use it in baking bread.

  9. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the kefir cheese recipe. We look forward to trying it.

  10. Anita says:

    First of all, that’s some really nice creamy milk you have there. I usually let two liters of raw milk stand in a stainless steel pot, lid slightly ajar, for two to three days at room temperature. When the natural souring process is complete, I skim the fresh soured cream off the top, which keeps well in the fridge, but usually gets used quickly in salad dressings, soups and sauces. The skimmed cheese gets poured in a cheesecloth lined bowl and hung for two hours or longer, depending on how wet or dry I want the cheese. Some of the whey gets used for fermenting veggies (our favorites are ginger carrots), some for pre-soaking beans and grains, but the bulk goes to the chickens who love it. The fresh cheese (we call it Quark in German) can be used in a variety of ways, but our absolute favorite is as a dessert. I use a puree stick to blend the cheese smooth and add raw honey, linseed oil and raw milk to get a creamy dessert that is just delicious with fresh or frozen berries. I must attempt the bottle shaking method of buttering myself, right now we have the luxury of getting freshly churned butter and heavy cream straight from the farmer in town.
    Nice site, a great forum for learning from one another across the globe.

  11. […] My wife and I have been consuming several liters of whole, raw milk, in the form of liquid milk, butter, cheese and yogurt, for months, and our health has never been better! […]

  12. […] It was working! We were able to make much more butter much faster and more easily than we could when we were shaking the cream in a quart jar. Once we are milking our own cows, we hope we will be able to make many more batches of butter in […]

  13. Ryan says:

    Lovely discussion. I am just about to make my own butter – but will use my food processor with the plastic whip, already have made yogurt (though not in a consistent on going manner) and Cheese (camembert, with ricotta from the left over whey). The type of cheese you are making is really Ricotta. You can also take your yogurt cheese, use a melon ball scoper to make rounds and put in olive oil with black peppercorns, a bay leaf, some thyme and lemon peel and marinate for a week…it’s called labna and is wonderful on grilled sourdough bread with tomoatos or grilled red capsicums, etc.

  14. Rebecca says:

    Hi Ryan,
    I love the idea of making labna out of the yoghurt cheese. Thanks for telling us about that. It sounds delicious.
    We’ve not tried to make camembert or any other cheeses yet, but hope to give it a try some time.
    Good luck with your butter making venture.

  15. hope crarer says:

    LOVE yr site, i am about to try making my first eva yoghurt, creme fraiche, sour cream & one day hopefully cheese.
    I work for a non profit orgainisaton so any i can do to save them $’s & provide lovely wholesome food is a joy but so expensive, so many thanx again.

  16. Rebecca says:

    Hi Hope,
    I replied to your email already with a bit more info about kefir and kefir cheese. Good luck with all your cultured milk adventures! Hopefully once you’ve made the initial purchase of the cultures, you’ll end up saving money. Making your own yoghurt is so much cheaper than buying it ready-made, even if you have to purchase the milk. And, of course, it tastes so much nicer!
    All the best and thanks for your kind feedback about our site.

  17. Karen says:

    I used your yoghurt recipe, and it worked! I’ve tried others before and have had no success. Thanks so much:-) From Karen in NZ.

  18. Roz says:

    Hi there

    Is there any way you can use commercially processed milk for this?

    Cheers and thanks for blog. such a great resource!

  19. Keb says:

    Regarding Roz’s question about whethere you can use commercially processed milk for this, absolutly! I have had great success here in New Zealand and in America with making fresh ricotta cheese from regular store bought milk. I usually add the juice of a lemon to my milk, depending on how much you are using. The measure doesn’t matter, as you will see the milk break right away. Bring the milk just before boiling/scalding, and then add the lemon juice and pull it off the heat, stirring. Then just sieve through a sieve lined with cheese cloth or a tea towel.
    In response to commercial cream and butter, I have had great success in New Zealand making butter from the heavy cream from the dairy. It shakes out the butter fat in about 10-20min in a mason style jar. Good Luck with the dairy adventures!

  20. Judy Skinner says:

    Hi, I found this site while Googling ‘butter churn NZ’ and have really enjoyed reading it.
    We live on 13 acres in New Zealand and have just acquired Jessie the Jersey who is giving us up to 4 litres of very creamy milk every day.
    Thanks for the butter method- my grand-daughter has some marbles! And the other recipes- I haven’t thought of making a fine Quark from cottage cheese- yum, especially now strawberry season has started.
    Good luck with it all.

  21. Corinne says:

    Just looking at various sites about butter making, and came across your site. This week I made yoghurt in a slow cooker. My first attempt – and it was a winner. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html. The kids 3.5 and 21months have requested to eat this instead of commercial variety now. I just used store bought milk, and some natural live yoghurt (that was reduced price as it went out of date the following day). I have just got hold of some raw milk so will be using this in the future.