How to Separate Cream from Raw Milk

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Video How to make ice cream from fresh milk

Learn the simple steps on how to separate cream from raw milk. You will get to enjoy fresh cream in your coffee, homemade butter, homemade vanilla ice cream, and more.

We have been getting farm-fresh milk from local farmers for quite some time. One of the most significant benefits of getting fresh whole local milk is the cream I skim off the top.

how to separate raw milk from cream in a jar

How to Separate Cream from Raw Milk in a Jar

If you are new to non-homogenized milk, you may notice that there is a noticeable line where the milk separates after sitting in your fridge for a few hours. That is a cream line, and the raw cream has settled at the top of the jar.

Sometimes, we shake the gallon of milk and enjoy the whole raw milk. However, there are times that I want the cream for making butter, homemade whipping cream, or homemade ice cream. So, here are several ways how to separate cream from raw milk.

What is Raw Milk with Cream

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. When milk is pasteurized, it undergoes a process of heating the milk to a high enough temperature, so it kills healthy enzymes.

Milk is then homogenized, which is a process of breaking down the fat molecules so they stay together and don’t separate as cream, and it gives the milk a smooth, even consistency.

Raw milk comes from pastured cows and has not undergone any processing. It contains all of the fats. There is some controversy surrounding raw milk, and it is even illegal in some areas. However, I can’t drink store-bought milk without it making me sick, but I can consume raw farm-fresh dairy.

Are you interested in finding your source of raw milk? You can look here for a location near you.

How to Separate Raw Cream from Fresh Milk | Measuring Cup Method

  1. During transport of the milk from the farmer back to your home, the milk can get shook up and mixed with the cream. So, once you get your jars of milk home, put it in the fridge and wait for the cream to rise to the top. This can take about 24 hours. When I pick our milk up, it already shows the cream line. However, I still allow the milk to sit in the fridge before I start to skim the cream off the top.
  2. I have found the best way is to use a measuring cup to remove the cream as it something I always have within easy reach. A 1/4 cup generally fits the best inside my half gallon jars. Search for the cream line on the jar so you know about how far down the cream is located.
  3. Gently place the measuring cup into the cream and allow the cream to fill into the measuring cup. Be careful to not go very deep because you don’t want to get down into the milk. I always leave some cream in the top of the jar because it makes the milk taste even more delicious!
  4. Scoop the cream out and place it into a separate jar. Keep repeating until you have the amount you wish to take off the top.
  5. Place a lid on the cream jar and store it in the fridge.

How to Store Raw Milk | Glass Mason Jar Storage

It is essential to handle raw milk safely. If you get it from a local farmer, know your farmer. You should know they are safely handling your raw cow milk. You should see if they are careful to keep their equipment clean and sanitary.

I own two sets of these half-gallon mason jars and have them labeled with our last name. I take one empty set to the farmer’s house each week and leave them. Then, I pick up the set I left there the previous week. After using a half-gallon of milk, the jar is washed and placed back into the box for next week’s milk pickup time.

Raw milk should always be kept cold, and I suggest storing it towards the back of the refrigerator. Our cream is stored in a separate container, usually quart jars, and kept towards the back of the fridge.

Remove Raw Cream from Milk

More Ways to Separate Raw Cream from Milk

While I most often use a measuring cup to separate the cream from the milk, here are several different ways that will also get the task completed.

1. Spigot Glass Jar

Using the spigot jar method allows you to use the milk first, and then eventually, all that is left is the cream. To use this method, pour your milk into the glass jar and let the heavy cream settle on the top. Generally, 24 hours will be enough time. To get the milk, open the spigot. Eventually, all that will be left in the jar is the cream.

I have never tried this method as I always need the cream off the top before my family can finish a gallon of milk.

I also have a few concerns about using the spigot method. One of them being the spigot could get clogged. The other is that it would be hard to get it clean enough. When working with raw dairy, it is vital to make sure everything stays clean.

2. Stainless Steel Ladle

The ladle method is the same process as using a measuring cup. Dip the ladle into the cream and scoop it out. The benefit of the ladle is that it has a longer handle than a measuring cup.

3. Turkey Baster

A large turkey baster works well to remove the cream layer. Squeeze the bulb and insert it into the layer of cream, then release the bulb to draw it up. Once the bulb has fully re-inflated, the baster is full. Gently squeeze the baster and fill a separate container with the heavy cream. Repeat until there is about an inch of cream left to avoid pulling off too much milk with it.

3 separating cream from raw milk

How to Use Fresh Raw Cream

So, you have the cream. Now, what do you do with it? There are so many things you can do with cream! Having it for my morning coffee is an essential part of my day. I love to use it for homemade ice cream, homemade butter, and maple cinnamon whipped cream.

4 separating cream from raw milk

Now that you know how to separate cream from raw milk, here are some delicious recipes that use heavy cream.

  • Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Homemade Butter
  • Maple Cinnamon Whipped Cream – perfect on pie!
  • Homemade Sausage Gravy

Originally posted January 19, 2019 and updated February 03, 2022

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