butter from raw milk.
Let me explain. Butter is basically nonexistent here. Even at nice
hotels they usually offer only margarine. Although it is very common
for people to drink tea with milk, other milk products such as cheese
are uncommon. This is probably in part because few people have
refrigerators. Still, I'm surprised there isn't more dairy. There is a
dairy cooperative at Nyota where we can buy raw milk for about 30
cents per liter or $1.20 per gallon. We've bought milk a few times but
had a hard time keeping it fresh without a refrigerator so some of it
went bad before we could use it.
All of a sudden, I realized that we could separate the cream from the
milk we buy and use that to make butter! I've made butter before
starting with cream, but never starting from raw milk. I did a bit of
research on the internet about how to separate cream from milk and how
to make it into butter. The whole process takes about a day and a half
by the time we buy the milk, wait for the cream to rise, skim the
cream, wait for it to sour a bit, and then shake it up to make butter.
Now, rather than lamenting the absence of butter, I can take matters
into my own hands and make it myself. For some inexplicable reason
this has increased my enthusiasm for food here tenfold. I'm excited
about bringing things for making yogurt (which I already do at home)
and maybe even cheese next time I return. I mean, the milk so so
inexpensive here I think it's definitely worth a shot and it gives me
a fun and delicious hobby.
The process of making my own butter made me realize that I am, in some
ways, effortlessly living a life that I find difficult in Big City.
Nearly all of my food is local and organic, grown by farmers not
industrial agriculture. I have access to local, fresh coconuts,
mangos, passion fruit, avocados, bananas, eggs, milk, tomatoes,
oranges, onions, potatoes, greens, and spices. The main things I eat
that aren't local are peanut butter, jam, chocolate, and probably the
rice (apparently a lot of rice is imported to Africa from Asia so it
might come quite far). Here though there's no feel-good eco-conscious
culture about eating this way- it's just the way it is. Most people
grow a lot of their own food, and what they don't grow themselves they
buy at the local market.
I took some photos of the butter process (see below). We boiled the
milk in the pot and let it sit for at least 12 hours, then I skimmed
the cream with the spoon and put it in the plastic container (it
actually doesn't seal properly). To make the butter I put the cream in
a jam container because it was the only container we had that didn't
leak when I shook it. The butter didn't get very solid so I think I
could've kept shaking but I only shook for about 10 minutes. I was
worried that it would take forever (or never turn) because the cream
wasn't chilled and all the instructions I read said to chill the cream.