Having a single dairy cow on a homestead can prove to be quite the challenge: how are you going to use up all of that spare milk?! Even a die-hard milk fan will have a hard time working through a gallon of milk on a daily basis. I cannot fathom drinking glasses and glasses of milk per day. My partner used to keep our milk empty; but that was when we lived inside of city limits! He no longer enjoys milk as a refreshing beverage, which will be quite an inconvenience once we venture into dairy goats.
A single dairy cow can produce up to 7 gallons per day, how’s that for an incredible fact? Most people may not realize how much a single lactating cow can produce before obtaining dairy breeds. While the cow will produce less and less as she nears time to calve again, those first few months will drown the family in milk. Who has the fridge space to store at least 49 gallons of milk per week? I certainly don’t, and I’m sure many of you don’t either. Try some of these incredibly useful ways to get rid of the day’s fresh milk before it’s time to call the old girls to the barn again!
The Biggest Category: Turning Excess Raw Milk Into Food & Beverages!
Most of homesteaders are raising their cows to provide a steady source of food for their homes. While the majority of people consider milk to be a drink first and foremost, the truth is there are dozens of different ways to use it in the kitchen! As a matter of fact, my family does not generally drink milk. Instead, we use it mostly for cooking. Here are some of the favorite ways to prepare excess milk for the family, and I think we’ll start off with the cheeses!
#1: Cow’s Milk Mozzarella Cheese
Have you ever dived into a freshly made lump of mozzarella cheese? It makes some of the most decadent cheese for spaghetti, chicken parmesan, cheese sticks, eggplant parmesan, squash casserole, homemade pizza, and sooo much more. I even use mozzarella for my signature, delicious Philly Cheese Steak… That’s right, the king of all sandwiches. Anyways, mozzarella only requires 4 ingredients (milk, rennet, salt, citric acid), and 1 gallon will yield roughly 1 pound of cheese. It is the PERFECT beginner’s cheese, and should be the first thing on the to do list.
#2: Homemade, Smooth Cream Cheese
Cream cheese: who could live without it? Thankfully, this is another VERY easy cheese to make. If you’re anything like me, cream cheese is a serious addiction. I love using it for so many different things! My two favorites are the classic bagel with cream cheese, and the classic cheesecake! It is delicious, I swear! I have even been known to snack on cream cheese by itself. I know it isn’t the best of snacking decisions, but I have no regrets. While this cheese does take quite a bit longer to prepare, it is very much worth it in the end!
#3: Delicious Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese & peaches…. I swear, it’s delicious! It was a favorite with my grandmother while I was growing up. Nonetheless, my horizons have expanded when it comes to cottage cheese. For those who are not grossed out by it’s somewhat challenging texture, it might be surprising that this seemingly complicated cheese is relatively easy to make at home. Just like the other cheeses we’ve listed already!
#4: Ricotta Cheese: Fine Italian Dishes!
Ricotta cheese truly seals the deal with homemade lasagna, Italian desserts, or stuffed shells.
It’s also perfect for those little bits of heaven that we call Cannolis… in all of their delicious bliss.
It’s hard to control yourself around this stuff; but what if I told you it was one of the fastest cheeses that you could make? It’s true! And again, it is easy to make. This cheese list just keeps on getting better, doesn’t it?
If you have some eggplant growing like crazy in the garden, why not give a delicious eggplant parmesan or a low carbohydrate eggplant lasagna? Simply cull the pasta noodles and put the thick slices of eggplant in its place!
#5 Feta Cheese: Top Those Garden Fresh Salads with Fresh Cheese!
Feta cheese is very well known for it’s delicious presence in wholesome, nutritious salads. Even though this delicious cheese is usually made from goats’ milk (and many times sheeps’ milk) it CAN be made with cows’ milk. This salty, crumbly delicacy is one more great project to add to the blossoming cheese maker’s to-do list.
#6 Eggnog for the Upcoming Holidays
Have you ever considered making eggnog with all of that excess milk?
This recipe is highly beneficial for the homestead because it not only uses up 4 cups of milk; it uses up 12 egg yolks too! Chickens will egg you out of house and home just as quickly as the cow will fill up the fridge, so this is a truly helpful recipe to make, even during the heat of summer.
Besides, who doesn’t love a subtle reminder of the happy holiday season?
#7 Buttermilk: Got Biscuits??
There isn’t much that belongs at a southern table the same way that a buttermilk biscuit does.
From breakfast to dinner, the buttermilk biscuit is always close by. But how can you make the biscuits without the buttermilk? They wouldn’t be the same without it!
Fresh buttermilk is so much more rich than store bought, and it can be used for so many different dishes. Again though: those biscuits are popular at the table, and that’s the only excuse that you really need for that buttermilk!
#8 Chocolate Milk: Classic Kids’ Beverage
Here it is: the easiest item there is to make on this list. With just a bit of chocolate syrup, the kids will have a drink that they’ll go bonkers for.
Pass on the Nesquik and other powdered additives; a simple, natural chocolate syrup is all that you need.
While it might contain quite a bit more sugar than standard milk would, it’s still a great bed time treat. This is definitely a good way to satisfy the sweet tooth that a child might get without feeding them high sugar desserts. Sometimes, a little bit of chocolate goes quite a long way!
#9 Smoothies: Healthy, Easy, On-the-Go Breakfast
Smoothies: we all love them. A bit of milk, fruit, and ice all tossed into a blender makes for a delicious breakfast boost.
With the whole family drinking a smoothie every day, it might be easier to keep up with all of that milk.
A handful of greens can boost nutritional content, peanut butter or protein powder can keep you fuller longer, and grains like oatmeal can offer some fiber to keep the stomach rather happy. This is the perfect way to slip the day’s fruit into your daily breakfast, too.
#10 Kefir: A Drink That Supports Gut Flora
Have you ever heard of Kefir? Yeah, well I hadn’t either until recently! Kefir is a fermented drink made of milk, and it’s particularly easy to make.
The milk is fermented with a starter composed of both yeast and bacteria, known as “kefir grains.” That is it: just allow the milk to ferment at room temperature for 24 hours.
The resulting milk is far lower in lactose, and may be slightly carbonated. This is a very friendly drink for anyone who is lactose intolerant within the family!
#11 Chocolate Gravy: Wait, What?!
Yes, that’s right! Chocolate gravy! This is always a hit among children.
I have tried chocolate gravy, and while it isn’t bad, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I prefer the heartier sausage gravy, personally.
However, this is still an incredible way to use up milk. It is the perfect food for a pot luck if you need to use up a lot of milk! A simply crock pot can keep it warm. Plus, biscuits are incredibly cheap and easy to make too!
#12 Butter: We Put That Junk on EVERYTHING!
Butter is one of the most vital ingredients in a kitchen, and any home cook will definitely tell you that.
It adds flavor to food, it helps to saute dry foods low fat foods, such as vegetables, without burning them.
It makes our biscuits delectable, keeps our roasted chickens moist, and it makes our gravy.
With all of that being said, making and freezing butter is as easy as it can get. Make several pounds of butter at a time, and freeze what you won’t use in the next week. You can really burn through milk by churning butter! Try to make salted and salt free butter, in order to have enough on hand of each in the event that you must do a lot of cooking.
#13 Yogurt: Fruit’s Best Friend
Yogurt is one of those dairy items that seems to go quite fast in the standard household. Like many of the items we’ve already discussed, it has a short processing period to allow the bacteria to do it’s job with the milk. In the end, the milk will be loaded with probiotic bacteria and it will have very little lactose left. All you need is a starter: and that starter could be the last bit of yogurt that you ALREADY have in the fridge! Pretty cool, huh?
#14 Custard: A Delectable and Delicious Multipurpose Food
This is another good one to use up both milk and eggs!
Now, the best custard will require a dried vanilla bean during the cooking process. You can always use vanilla extract when in a pinch instead though.
Custard is amazing for a variety of desserts and finger foods. You could make eclairs, trifles, tarts, bread pudding, or even top hot cross buns and fill cakes or donuts with the delicious treat.
Custard is so extremely versatile, making it a staple in world of fine pastries and desserts. For the aspiring pastry chef, it doesn’t hurt to practice making a fine custard!
#15 Creamed Soups: A Cold Weather Comfort Food
Call me out if I’m wrong but… There is nothing that is quite as comforting as a creamy, hearty soup in the dead of winter. It’s rich, it’s filling, and it’s hearty. A few great examples include a classic potato soup, ham and potato soup, various chowders (especially clam chowder!), and broccoli & cheese soup. There are dozens more than could make this particular list, but we’ll stick with these examples. While they might only use a few cups of milk, take advantage of these recipes when feeding large crowds of people. You might actually make a dent in your supply of milk, while feeding everyone quite cheaply. Prepared soups could also be canned or frozen, offering you a quick and easy heat N eat meal on busy nights.
#16 Gravy & Biscuits: A Southern Staple!
I’ll be honest. I simply can’t trust a fella who doesn’t enjoy a warm biscuit topped with a rich sausage gravy. It is, always has been, and always will be one of my favorite breakfast foods!
Biscuits come together quickly and easily, sausage fries up within 10 minutes, and with a bit of that leftover grease, TONS of milk, and some pepper?
Well, you have yourself such an easy, ridiculously inexpensive meal that will feed a LOT of people. 1 pound of sausage could easily feed 10 people with this recipe. The sausage and milk would both be two of the most expensive ingredients in the meal… having milk to dispose of cuts the price nearly in half!
#17: Scalloped Potatoes: A Versatile Side for Any Meal
Do you have any idea how many ways you could prepare scalloped potatoes? Add chives & sour cream, maybe cheddar and bacon, or opt for some ranch packets…. It can be a lot of fun to experiment with them. One thing they require a lot of is… you guessed it… MILK! With all of those potatoes that we harvest in the late spring, this one should be a cheap meal to prep much like the last one. They just need a generous amount of baking time, and the family will go bonkers for them.
#18: Macaroni & Cheese
I don’t even need to say anything here. Just listen to your heart as it speaks to you.
#19: Whipped Cream: Because Every Dessert Needs It!
- Apple Pie
- Pumpkin Pie
- Ice Cream
- Cookie Pizzas
Do I honestly need to keep going? I’m sure you have your own hundred uses for whipped cream, only proving how important it is to have on hand.
Let’s not forget a delicious frozen coffee… I don’t know if there is any place that’s more appropriate for a dollop of whipped cream! All you need is some of the delectable cream that rises atop the milk, whipped into a wonderful dollop of divine bliss. Easy peasy!
#20 Sour Cream: Got Burritos?
Sour cream is just that: cream that has soured. Using some of the cream from your milk, adding some buttermilk, and leaving it at room temperature for a few days will yield a healthier version of what you buy prepacked in a store.
Sour cream has a lot of uses: baked potatoes, tacos, burritos (anything Mexican, really!), nachos & cheese, sour cream cake, some soups and stews… It really just depends on your personal tastes.
I absolutely love sour cream, and will even steal a nibble here and there while finishing up a meal. Some might consider it gross, but I’ve got no shame!
#21: Coffee Creamer: Dressing Up Your Morning Jet Fuel!
Show of hands: who’s blood runs thick with coffee? Coffee is a pure life saver for most people. It tastes great, wires you up, and gets you ready for all of the chores that need doing outside.
It can also tide you over when you lack sleep for whatever the reason may be (KIDS!).
However, creamer does take out some of the bitterness. I like my coffee as strong as it can possibly be; that little bit of creamer helps to smooth over the bitterness, making it just a tad bit richer for me.
The benefits of homemade creamer are that it is REAL dairy, and that it doesn’t have to be nearly as sweet as the stuff you find in grocery stores. Win-win situation if you ask me! It’s a truly simply recipe, and you can adjust it as per your tastes.
#22 Ice Cream: Traditional Summer Treat
Hand cranked, old fashioned vanilla bean or strawberry ice cream; now THAT is something you would enjoy on the front porch swing on a lazy summer afternoon, listening to the the bugs and birds just singing away.
With handy electric ice cream churns, making ice cream is easier than ever and it involves far less work than what your grandmother had to do. After heating up some sugar, milk, and cream, all you have to do is add in your flavors or fruits, and toss it in the machine!
For those who are making it by hand, you will need a bit of rock salt. This will use up plenty of milk while keeping children busy, so it is a great activity when the kids are stuck inside for the day.
#23 Pancakes: Great to Cook in Bulk!
Pancakes are a simple, yummy breakfast, especially when paired with bacon or sausage. Pancakes are rather versatile with a variety of toppings, as well. Since they can be a frequent breakfast or brunch item, try cooking up a few hundred and freezing them.
The bulk of the batter is milk, so you can use up quite a lot this way. Freeze pancakes on cookie sheets in a single layer, then stack them in airtight freezer bags or storage containers. Simply pop them into the microwave, and you have an instant breakfast!
Try adding in some blueberries, chocolate chips, nuts, or any other mix ins that your family enjoys!
#24 Bread Pudding: Stale Bread Turned Dessert
While this particular Bread Pudding recipe will only use up 2 cups of milk, it will also help you to use up 4 eggs AND stale bread. So, I definitely think it’s worthy of a spot on this list. There are so many different variations of bread pudding, including the breads used and the ways to season it.
#25 Flans: Enjoy a Nearly Forgotten Delicacy
Few people prepare and enjoy flans it seems. You see quite a few people who have never even tried a flan dessert before too. This is a true shame as it is such a delight to have in the family’s cookbook.
A flan is a simple dessert made of caramelized sugar, milk, eggs, and more sugar. On most homesteads, the only ingredient that will need to be purchased is sugar, which is usually already on hand. This is actually a simple, wonderful dessert after a weekday’s dinner.
Try adding some fruit or some of that whipped cream you’ve made to the top of your flans!
#26 Caramel: Top Your Ice Cream
Caramel can do a lot of good for your favorite desserts; can you believe that 1 quart of milk will only produce roughly a cup of sauce? Caramel is a sweet treat that is produced by browning, or caramelizing, sugar and milk over heat. The sweet treat can be made into sauces or candies. No matter how you use it, caramel is the perfect end to a sweet tooth.
#27 Pudding: Easy Mid-Week Dessert
Few children dislike pudding; especially a homemade, warm vanilla pudding!
Trade in those pre-made puddings and boxed mixes. The fresh stuff truly isn’t any harder to make than what you find in a box!
One recipe that serves 4 people will use approximately 2 cups of milk. This would be a good dessert item to use up milk for a pot luck or family function.
#28 Mashed Potatoes: Family Meal Staple
Many families eat a form of potatoes with most of their meals. In most homes, it is not abnormal to have mashed potatoes as a side item at least once or twice per week.
While mashed potatoes may not require an incredibly large amount of milk, this is an excellent dish to prepare regularly to use up milk as you go. In addition, you can make several pounds of mashed potatoes to use up a gallon or more of your excess milk; just freeze the mashed potatoes into easy to reheat portioned patties!
Using Excess Milk with Your Homestead Animals
Would you believe that the animals on your homestead might have just as much of a use for all of that leftover dairy that you have? These are only a few of the ways that you could recycle and reuse that precious white gold on your homestead.
#29 Fattening Up the Family Pigs
For centuries, excess or old milk has ended up with the family pigs.
Pigs absolutely love milk, and many times, a family cow produces too much milk early in her lactation period. Rather than let the milk go to waste, it was used to fatten pigs quickly and prevent them from becoming malnourished.
Cow’s milk is rich is several nutrients, which only help the pigs to grow to market weight as quickly as possible. Try it out on your growing hogs and piglets! You might be surprised at how much the excess milk can really help them.
#30 Raising a Calf: Meat or Milk
If the family loves beef or if the family is simply interested in bottle feeding a new heifer, try raising a calf on the excess milk.
Buying calf milk replacer can be expensive, so many calf owners choose to raise a calf with raw milk instead.
This is also possible with goat’s milk, too. Calves will grow much faster and will be far more healthy on another cow’s milk rather than replacer.
You will need to ensure that the calf has access to between 1 and 2 gallons of milk per day. If this is not possible, additional replacer will be required for the calf’s health.
#31 Feeding Chickens: Great Laying Hen Calcium Boost
Chickens absolutely love milk- as long as you have a shallow dish to feed it to them in. The milk will boost the protein and calcium intake for growing broilers and laying hens.
Both of these nutrients are crucial, with cow’s milk also offering much more. Hens need a steady supply of protein to produce an egg, while they also need plenty of calcium to build the shell membrane that protects it.
Broilers and meat chicks grow incredibly fast, and they need extra calcium for their fast bone growth; this supports all of the weight and muscle mass that requires the added protein, as well.
#32 Cats: A Drink, Not Too Much Though!
Cats absolutely love milk! However, too much milk can irritate their digestive systems greatly. If you have several barn cats, try sharing a cup of milk or less between them. Lactose can be quite unforgiving, and you don’t want to make your cats uncomfortable. Some cats can handle far more milk than others, but nearly all cats will suffer from milk intolerance if given too much.
Storing Milk For Future Consumption
Storing milk is a great way to use it up later. If you do not have milk in storage that will last longer than what’s in your refrigerator, try increasing your backup supply of milk in case anything happens! Sometimes, milk cows become sick or go dry with no explanation. Some people do not agree with some storage methods, while others wear by them. Please do your research regarding each method before using it; we do utilize any method other than freezing, and you NEED to know how long products can store for (or if they’re even recommended for long term storage). These ideas are only for brainstorming.
#33 Freezing Milk
My preferred method of storing milk is to freeze it! You can freeze milk into pre measured amounts (such as 1/4 cup, 1 cup, etc) or you can simply freeze it into cubes in an ice cube tray. Simply thaw and use in your favorite recipes when you are out of milk. We do not use a lot of milk in our home, so it is beneficial for use to use this method. Most ice cube trays hold approximately 1 ounce of milk per cube, which is handy to know!
#34 Canning Milk
Canning dairy seems to be an unpopular method of milk storage. Many people do not like to can dairy products as they may not keep well. Before attempting this, research information regarding canning techniques and safety; attempt at your own risk. I personally will not can milk, as it seems like to much trouble for my family.
#35 Evaporating Milk
Evaporating milk can be a very slow, tedious, and troublesome process. However, evaporated milk takes up far less space than fresh milk. It is also commonly used in a lot of recipes. This would be an amazing way to prepare milk before freezing, as well. Most people prefer to buy evaporated milk instead, as the evaporation process might be too much of a hassle for them. However, it is still another plausible way to use and store milk.
#36 Dehydrating Milk
Dehydrated milk is not a first in our home. But it is a great way to store lots of excess milk for other animals on the homestead! Use a dehydrator with closed trays for this purpose. As the milk begins to dry to solids, grind the pieces in a coffee grinder. Dehydrate the powder for a bit longer afterwards to remove lingering moisture. We love re-hydrating milk for our animals!
#37 Freeze Drying Milk
Most of us are not lucky enough to own a freeze dryer. If you own one, definitely try your hand at freeze drying! Freeze dried foods last longer than foods preserved with any other food storage method. A lot more moisture is removed than there is with dehydrating. This means gallons upon gallons of milk could be reduced to a powder that takes up very little space as compared to dehydrated milk.
Moving Milk Off the Homestead
Have you exhausted your milk using resources on the homestead? Well… perhaps there is a place to send the milk OFF of the homestead! See if any of these ideas tickle your interest!
#38 Giving to Friends and Family
Friends and family tend to love to receive fresh milk. Since milk tastes so much better right off the farm, you ought to have no problem moving the excess along to your friends and family. The more milk cows you have that are producing, though, the harder this will be. You might have to begin searching for friends of friends in order to keep the milk from going to waste!
#39 Offer to Neighbors
Keeping happy, friendly neighbors is always in one’s best interest. You simply never know when you will need a bit of neighborly help! If you simply cannot rid yourself of the milk, have a lovely stroll to the neighbor’s home with milk in tow. If you would really like to impress them, bring along a tray of freshly baked cookies too! It’s virtually impossible to turn a generous, delicious offer like that down.
#40 Donating Milk to Human and Animal Rescues
If you have local rescues, find out if they have a use for fresh milk. Rescues for women and children might need the milk to protect the health of both children and pregnant or nursing women. For animal rescues, they might require fresh, raw milk for calves. If a rescue calf comes in, it can be very hard to source donated funds for milk replacer.
#41 Trade or Barter Your Dairy
Have you ever thought about offering your dairy up for trading or bartering? A local pig breeder might require raw milk for their bottle calf, and they might be willing to trade several piglets for it. Perhaps a craftswoman requires raw milk for her children, and she could trade beautiful, handcrafted boutique clothing for it. Bartering is still very much alive, and in some cases preferred.
#42 Selling for Pet Consumption
If the laws in your state allow for you to label and sell your milk for pet consumption, give it a try! Again, someone out there might require unadulterated fresh milk for an orphaned or beef bottle calf. Another person might be looking for a fattening boost for their hogs before they’re sent off for processing. No matter what the buyer chooses to do, your cow’s surplus milk could truly be saving their day.
Producing Personal and Garden Products with Milk
There are a lot of different products that can be produced from milk, from soap all the way to fertilizer! Here are a few different oddball ideas that we have scrounged up for this category. Let us know how your recipes turn out! It’s always exciting to make products for the home and body with fresh milk.
#43 Crafty, Cute Milky Soap
Milk soaps are incredibly wonderful for the skin. You will need several other ingredients to get started, such as lye and scent; even more if you want colors or decorative soaps. Soap making can be a bit dangerous if you are not used to working with lye. However, it is still a lot of fun as long as you avoid burns! Soaps are a great addition to the homestead store, or to gift baskets during the holidays.
#44 Moisturizing Dairy Skin Lotion
As moisturizing and nourishing as milk is, it isn’t a shocker that it’s great in lotions too. Try pairing some specially crafted lotions with your soaps, and you could have a great new item for your shop: a beauty care set! It might be wise to make lotions in bulk to get rid of milk a bit faster. You can also create different lotion consistencies, with some being better for occasional intensive moisturizing while others are better for daily moisturizing.
#45 Using Milk as Garden Fertilizer
Milk has a lot to offer the soil for gardening applications. Try it out with your strawberry seedlings for a kickstart! Milk is calcium rich, which generally isn’t added to the soil with standard fertilizers. Enriching the calcium content of soil is incredibly easy with milk. Simply pour the milk into the garden or add it to your compost pile! I recommend using older milk for this, and storing the freshest milk in your fridge.
#46 Homemade, Natural, Organic Milk Face Mask
Facial masks contain lots of different formulations, all for different purposes. Try adding fresh milk to a homemade facial mask to relieve irritation due to sensitivity. Some make ups can be very irritating on the face and they will dry out the skin. Milk can help to soothe and calm your aggravated skin before going through the process again in the morning.
#47 Milk Bath for Photography and Healing Your Skin
Milk baths are becoming increasingly common; both for relief of common skin problems and for photography. As a matter of fact, milk bath maternity shots are incredibly beautiful! For those of us who aren’t pregnant, a milk bath can help sensitive and sunburned skin! Milk has amazing healing properties; human breast milk has proven this time and time again for mothers who are able to breastfeed their children!
Utilizing Whey After Cheese Making
If you are overloaded with milk, chances are you are making a lot of cheese. One of the waste products of cheese is whey; and you will have a lot of it! Whey is very nutritious, and shouldn’t go to waste. There are lots of uses for whey in cooking, but I have selected three of the easiest and best ways to use it!
#48 Make Fermented Bread
Bread making is a must!
Whey makes a delicious loaf of bread, and it is a great way to use lacto-fermentation rather than traditional, commercial yeast.
It can take a day or more to produce a loaf of bread, but it is worth it. These breads also have a good reputation with those who are gluten intolerant.
Bread can be served with nearly any meal, and sandwiches are always an easy go-to for lunch time.
#49 Soak Pinto, Great Northern, or Cranberry Beans
Raw beans are always best soaked overnight before cooking. Instead of using water to soak the beans, use whey. The whey will serve the same purpose while adding some valuable nutrients to the beans. Cover the beans overnight, then rinse in the morning to remove the bitter flavor that the beans release. Place them in a Crock Pot, add more milk whey, and cook them low and slow for 6 to 10 hours; don’t forget to add a bit of hog jowl for some extra flavor!
#50 Make Homemade Chicken Stock with Milk Whey
If you have been saving your chicken bones and carcasses, try making some chicken stock! Place the bones into a crock-pot and cook them on low for 24 to 48 hours. Use the whey rather than water, and add a few choice vegetables; like celery or onions. As the broth simmers, the flavors will meld into the whey. This stock is perfect as a base for soups, stews, roasted meals, and gravies.