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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What To Do With Lots of Free Expiring Milk - Again!

This is 1/10th of the milk I got, free
Because I live in an area that is considered to be of a lower socio-economic background (gotta love a community like this, as we're all in the same frugal living boat, so not much pressure to keep up with the Jones), from time to time we get deliveries of food items that otherwise would be thrown out, for various reasons. For example, yesterday there were gallons and gallons of milk being given away, as their expiration date is tomorrow. Last time this happened, I shared what I did with my 8 gallons of free expiring milk, and now I wanted to share with you what I did this time.
This time I got ten and a half gallons, not just eight (20 2 liter bottles). I was trying to convince the other people that came to take milk, that there is so much they can do with it to prevent it spoiling before they could use it up, but people were hesitant. I'm sure, sadly, that much of the milk just ended up in the trash because people are so afraid of expiring milk...
This post, hopefully, will inspire you, and when you have milk that is near its expiration date, you'll know that you don't have to trash it, and can benefit from it. And anyone who lives in my community or in similar communities that are recipients of such items will know what to do with all that milk so they can benefit and not have it end up being tossed.

The previous time that I had a lot of milk, what I did with it ended up being a lot of work and a lot of steps, and this time, I'll be honest, I frankly didn't have the emotional energy or time to do what I did then, so I stuck to more minimal work and still managed to find what to do with my 10.5 gallons of milk.



The first thing to be aware of is that even though there is an expiration date listed on milk, expiration dates are just a guideline, not a rule that "the second it passes its expiration date it isn't safe to drink".

  • It is typically a sell by date, not a "use by" date. So even if the date written is for tomorrow, there are at least a few more days where it can be used absolutely without a problem.
  • Use your common sense. You don't need to throw things out the second they are past their expiration date. With milk its quite easy, especially, to tell if its off. Does it smell or taste sour? If it doesn't, use it- its fine. And if it just starts to taste/smell sour, you can use it in pancakes- it tastes even more delicious that way.
  • Just a reminder about what I wrote before, that expiration dates are relatively meaningless, and don't reflect on the safety of an item, according to the CDC
So I stuck 4 liters of milk, about a gallon, into the refrigerator for the kids and Mike to have with their cereal in the morning over the next few days.

I stuck a few more bottles into the freezer to use for when the milk in the fridge runs out. 

I set up milk to bring to a boil on the stove, and then let it cool down to make yogurt. My way of making yogurt really isn't time consuming- I simply did it in two batches- heating up 12 liters/3.2 gallons of milk this way. The most annoying/"time consuming" part was simply waiting for the milk to cool off enough for me to add a tablespoon of yogurt into it to inoculate. (Too hot and the good bacteria will be killed and your yogurt won't work.) Yes, to make my yogurt from free milk I had to spend $1 on a container of probiotic yogurt to use as my starter for my yogurt, but one container was enough to stretch for all those 3.2 gallons of yogurt. 

Most of the yogurt that I made- I had one more container, not shown.
Once I added the yogurt to the milk, I put them in covered containers in my cooler to insulate it. Typically I also add a hot water bottle to my cooler when I am making yogurt, to make sure that it stays warm the entire time, but all my 3.2 gallons of milk in their containers took up all the available room in my cooler, so I couldn't find room for the hot water bottle. However, it worked just fine- when a cooler is that packed with warm things, just the milk itself was enough to maintain the warm temperature for the required time.
One thing I noticed, though, this time. Usually my yogurt is mostly thick, with a little bit of whey that separates out to the top. I typically use only 3% fat milk in my house, but what I got yesterday was 1%, and I wonder if that's why I saw so much more whey/liquid in my yogurt than I usually do. Because I don't particularly care for runny yogurt, I poured off as much liquid as I could from each of my containers of ready yogurt. 

Yogurt, after I poured off the excess whey.
Lately I have been resorting a bit too much on bribes with my kids, I will admit. Sometimes my youngest, Rose, doesn't really want to go to school. Or she gives me trouble at bed time. So I tell her that if she goes to sleep without a problem, or if she cooperates in the morning and goes to school nicely, I'll give her a treat in her lunch. The treats I've been resorting to, though, haven't been all bad. Most of the time they're a yogurt, either plain or fruit flavored. (Chemical filled, unfortunately...) These at least are protein and have some nutritious quality, but they are anywhere from 37 cents to a dollar each, depending on what they are. 
I decided to, instead, make my own fruit flavored yogurts for the kids to take to school with their lunches.

I also got a bunch of persimmons, many of them quite soft, which I cooked up while the milk for the yogurt was cooling last night. I chopped them and added water and a little sweetener, and once fully cooked I added a drop of starch to thicken them.


This morning I filled a bunch of containers with the persimmon mixture on the bottom (16 total- 3 aren't shown here, because I sent them in my kids' lunches before I could take the picture)...


Then I covered them with the ready yogurt, and then closed the containers (these are relatively spill proof)...

I put these in my freezer to pull out every day to put them in the kids' lunches. 

The rest of the yogurt went into my fridge- I still have 4 large containers, and have to decide what I want to do with them, or just use them plain. I might use them as the base for smoothies, which my kids have been asking for me to make.

Lastly, last night I also made two large containers of homemade cottage cheese. To do this, I heated up more milk, added white vinegar when hot, until it separated into distinct curds and yellowish whey. I poured out the whey by running it through a cloth lined seive and then ran it under cold water to take out any vinegar that's left. I mixed that with milk that I boiled (which prolongs its shelf life, especially because of the near expiration) and salt, broke it up into smaller clumps, and voila, cottage cheese.


 I made two large containers this size filled to the top with cottage cheese. One I put in the freezer, and the other in the fridge- I already used some of this cottage cheese to make my husband's food for work, that's why it isn't filled to the top.

And voila- that is all the 10.5 gallons, and it certainly wasn't too much work. 

I'm trying to decide what I want to do with all the yogurt in my fridge. I probably will make baked ziti or similar for supper tonight, using the yogurt instead of most of the cheese. Will gladly take more suggestions, especially on how to use it for "real food" items instead of just with granola or fruit or eaten on their own.
Thanks!

Will you use milk that is close to or at its expiration date? 
What would you do if you got a lot of milk that is near expiration date? Have you ever made yogurt or cottage cheese before? 

28 comments:

  1. You are amazing . Keep on blogging so interesting to read.I may try the cottage cheese.

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  2. great instructions! i was just telling myself i need to learn to make both of these as they are why we have so much plastic to toss! on the cottage cheese-maybe use in the place of ricotta in lasagna...what other recipes did you come up w/ ?

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    1. So far my brain hasn't processed other ideas. :-D Been busy.

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  3. If you put some yogurt in a cheese cloth to drain you get Greek style yogurt, drain longer and you get farmers cheese with an addition of salt. I also like to ad pepper and green onions to this.I never throw away the whey It makes wonderful pancakes and is good for starting fermented foods like pickles or sauerkraut, Some people also soak their oatmeal overnight with a small amount of whey to make it easier to digest. But good for you to have saved food from being wasted!

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    Replies
    1. I tried saving whey beforehand, no one really liked the stuff I made with it, and since I don't really eat dairy, I didn't want to add whey to stuff that I'd otherwise be eating. And last time I strained to get greek yogurt, there was so little left that it didn't feel worth it.

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    2. If you have a garden dilute some of that leftover whey with water, maybe 1 to 10 and water your garden with it. The soil organisms love it!

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  4. Make "cream cheese" from the extra yogurt. Just drain the excess whey off using a clean cloth until thick.

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    Replies
    1. I did that last time, ended up with such a little amount. I may do it though, thanks.

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  5. You can also make "cheese" sauce with milk. About 2/3 cup of flour (gluten free flour works well) into approximetely 3 cups milk. Heat while stirring until thick.
    Add in plenty of pasta sauce, some fried herbs, and salt. Pour over cooked (gluten free) pasta. My kids love it!

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    Replies
    1. Ooo yes, I love making "cheese sauce" with milk. :-D My favorite hack.

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    2. Never thought of that! I might try it! :)

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  6. It is not clear to me what you did with this instruction: "and then ran it under cold water to take out any vinegar that's left". 

    What exactly and how did you run it under cold water?

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    1. Ok, let me elaborate. In order to curdle the milk you add a decent amount of vinegar. We don't want the vinegar flavor to remain in the cheese, especially since we'll be adding more milk to it and we don't want that to curdle. So after I strain out the liquid whey from the solid curds by pouring the whole thing into a strainer that has been lined with a thin cloth, I then pour water over the whole thing and let it strain out as well. This leaves behind just the curds and any vinegar that might have been left on it gets washed away.

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  7. Amazing! How do you know when the temp is cool enough to add the yogurt?

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    1. Thank you! Do you ever make bread and work with yeast? If you do, and know the right temperature water that you'd use to add yeast, that's the temperature I use to add the yogurt. To test it I basically stick my finger in and see if its cool enough that I don't get burned, but warm enough that it is still warm. It is roughly the temperature you'd get if you mix 1/2 a cup boiling water with 1/2 a cup cold water.

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    2. I make yogurt a lot also. I use a thermometer and add the culture somewhere between 95 degrees Farenheit and 105 degrees Farenheit. at 90 its just a bit too cold to develop. At 110 the cultures die. Hope that helps!

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  8. You can use the whey as starter for your next batch of yogurt. I strain my yogurt and then freeze the whey in one or two tablespoon increments to use as starter. Even if you don’t want to strain it to Greek thickness, if you strain it for an hour or so you will get plenty for some starter.

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  9. Use the yogurt as a carrier to marinate meats!

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  10. I heard putting milk in the freezer changes texture/taste. Is that not true? Can I freeze it in the gallon or do I need to re-container?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the texture/flavor changes because of how the protein strands change when frozen, so I don't prefer it for drinking, but it's fine for cooking or baking.

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  11. I like to use yogurt for waldorf-type salad. Chop some apples and toss with lemon juice. Add halved grapes, diced celery, a few raisins and some chopped walnuts or pecans. Add yogurt, a drizzle of honey and a couple pinches of cardamom if you have it around. Chill. Very refreshing!

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    Replies
    1. Yum! That sounds delicious! I might try that!

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  12. I like to use yogurt for a waldorf-type salad. Chop 2-3 apples and sprinkle with lemon juice. Add halved grapes, chopped celery, raisins and chopped walnuts or pecans. Mix in the yogurt to desired creepiness. Add a drizzle of honey to taste and a couple pinches of cardamom if you have it. Chill for a refreshing breakfast or side.

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  13. Use as a sour cream substitute and make some yogurt cream cheese and make a cheesecake.

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    Replies
    1. How do you make your yogurt cream cheese? I strain mine. Is your recipe the same? I didn't know I could use yogurt for cheesecake! I'd love the recipe!

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  14. Could you make butter with your surplus of milk?

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  15. Add lemon and ya got Buttermilk. Great for cornbread and biscuits. I never pay attention to expiration dates. Most milk will last a week after expiration if you keep in inside the fridge and not on the door.

    Also, yogurt pops! Bet the kids would love those.
    Some recipes I found searching google:
    Yogurt Soup with Tomato and Basil
    Baked Finger Eggplants
    Yogurt and Cucumber
    Blueberry muffins
    Sweet potato pie

    So many options for you out there, I bet there's something for everyone in the house. Good luck and keep up the great work, love your blog.

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