Less Noise, More Green: Road Trip to Baldwin Brook Farm

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Road Trip to Baldwin Brook Farm

Last week I went on a road trip with my BFF Roda. Driving the country back roads, sipping coffee and solving the world's problems, we wound our way to Canterbury, CT. Our destination was Baldwin Brook Farm. We've been driving to the farm, just over the Connecticut border, for several years to buy their raw milk. It is illegal to sell raw milk in Rhode Island, hence the road trip.

Baldwin Brook Farm is without a doubt the prettiest farm I have ever seen. To get to the farm you have to drive down a winding road, under a covered bridge and up a hill.

Along the way to the farm house you pass the pastures where their Jersey Cows are enjoying the meadow grass and their freedom to roam.

When I die, I want to come back as a cow on this farm.

The flower beds are beautiful and the fruit trees and vegetable gardens look like a movie set. When people fantasize about owning a farm, this the farm they are dreaming about.

Make no mistake, though, this is a working farm and the milk produced here is a testament to the owners hard work - I wouldn't drive well over an hour each way if it wasn't worth the trip!

Raw milk is milk straight from the cow. It has not been pasteurized or homogenized. Baldwin Brook Farms has a great explanation of raw milk, which  I recommend you read if you are curious about it's health benefits. Everyone needs to make up their own mind about the merits of raw milk. For me, the quality of the milk from this farm, the taste and meticulous cleanliness of the facility assure me that I am making a healthy choice for my family. I always pack coolers with ice for the ride home and have never had a problem.

The fact that this milk has a higher fat content (around 5%) and is not homogenized, makes it a perfect milk for producing dairy products at home. The homogenizing process breaks down the milk molecules, making it almost impossible to turn the milk into any other kind of dairy.

Homemade cappuccino ice cream. It didn't last long.

I have already made cappuccino ice cream and butter and will be making ricotta cheese later on in the week.

I always make sweet cream butter, which is uncultured, and very easy to make with a food processor. I start by making sure all the equipment is scrupulously clean, then I separate as much of the cream from the top of the bottle as I can and pour it into the processor bowl. A little milk isn't going to hurt anything.

As the food processor runs, the cream will go through several stages before becoming butter. This can take some time, so be patient! After a couple of minutes the cream will become white and frothy.

It will then thicken. Keep running the processor and watch the cream start to break, becoming yellow and grainy, as the fat separates from the whey.

A few minutes more and you have a bowl full of butter and butter milk!

Scoop the butter into a bowl and strain the butter milk. I used this milk to make apple muffins.

The butter must now be washed to remove all of the buttermilk. Using a spoon, gently push the butter against the side of the bowl as you squeeze out the milk. Fold the butter and repeat. Add water to the bowl and rinse the butter. Discard the water. Repeat this process until the water is clear. At this point you can add salt if you want salted butter. Go easy, it takes less salt than you think! This butter is a treat. A little spread on a muffin or toast is the reason to get up in the morning.

Visit the farms where your local milk is produced. See for yourself how the cows are treated, the cleanliness of the facility and how the farm operates. Talk to the owners about their farming philosophy. Be an informed consumer, support your local farmers and learn about topics such as raw milk.

Homemade ricotta cheese is an easy cheese to make and so creamy! I'll post about that when I make it in a few days. Next post will be on apple picking. It's been a busy week!


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