By the time you get your milk, there is a visible cream line on the jar. Carefully, skim the top layer (the cream) off with a ladle or wide spoon into a separate jar. Be careful not to disturb the layers, as best you can. The cream will be very thick at the top and get thinner toward the milk line.
I like to leave at least 1″ of the lightest cream in the milk, because drinking skim milk is no fun!
Inevitably, you’ll get some milk in with your cream. Or if you’re skimming the heaviest cream for butter, you’ll end up with some lighter weight cream, too. You can lets the cream layers separate in the refrigerator yet again to ensure you’re getting just what you want.
Here is my method of making yogurt: I fill a quart jar with milk. I get a large pot, put a kitchen towel on the bottom of the pot and then put water in the pot. I then place my quart jar of milk on top of the kitchen towel in the pot and start warming the milk on medium heat until the temperature of the milk is 100 degrees. I take the jar out and put 3 tablespoons of a good store bought yogurt (I use Strauss yogurt because it is grass-fed.) and stir. Then, I put the jar somewhere warm for the next 48 hours. Somewhere warm for me is a drink cooler filled with warm water and wrapped in a towel. In 48-72 hours, you should have yogurt!
Butter is one of the easiest things to make. Let the milk stand for 24 to 48 hours in the refrigerator to separate into cream and skim milk. Skim the cream and pour into your blender. You can also use a butter churn or a kitchen mixer. I used the blender and it was easy. You need to check occasionally to see how the mixture is looking. It will go from cream to whipped cream to butter fairly quickly. When it is ready to strain into butter and buttermilk, the fat will clump together into globs. Now it is ready to strain. Pour it into a colander (lined with a cheese cloth if you wish) with a bowl underneath to collect the buttermilk. You will need to lightly press on the butter to squeeze out the buttermilk.
Try not to spend too much time pressing on the butter with your warm hands. As your hands warm the butter, it gets kind of melted. Next, you will rinse the remaining buttermilk out with cold water. As you run the cold water over the butter, lightly knead it with your fingers to rinse all of the buttermilk out. If you don’t get it all out, the butter will go rancid more quickly.
Pat the butter dry with a paper towel or linen cloth.