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Cast Iron Farm Milk FAQ’s
We are committed to producing clean, high-quality milk for you. Here are some FAQ’s to help you understand our system.
Milk Subscription: We are now selling our milk on a pre-reserved, subscription basis. We ask that our customers make a commitment to buy a pre-determined amount of milk one day each week. For example, you tell us that you want a gallon of milk a week, and you want to get milk on Friday. Each Friday we will milk the cows and put a gallon of milk from that day in the milk fridge labelled with your name on it. All of the milk in the fridge is pre-reserved. We do not allow sales of milk that have not been previously reserved. This allows us to know exactly who is getting milk on a specific day and what day each the milk in the fridge was milked. Conversely, with this system, you are never going to drive out to the farm and discover that there is not milk for you in the fridge.
Self Service: Jared, Christine, George and the kids all work on the farm full-time, and there will likely be someone around when you come to get your milk. That said, the milk pick up is a self-service, honor system. You do not need to check in with a farmer when you get your milk. Feel free to say hello if you would like. However, please respect that this is our home and our place of business, we are not always able to put down what we are doing for a chat.
Jar Size: We bottle our milk in ½ gallon glass jars with a plastic lid. Thus, you can buy milk in ½ gallon increments. One jar is a ½ gallon and two jars are 1 gallon, three are 1 ½ gallons, etc.
Payment: As our milk is being bought on a subscription basis, we ask for payment only once per month. On your first pick up of the month, your milk will have an invoice on it for your milk for the entire month (remember that some months have 5 weeks, and thus 5 pick ups). You can pay the invoice throughout the month whenever it is convenient for you. We happily take checks made out to “Cast Iron Farm.” Cash is also acceptable. If necessary, we can run debit/credit cards, but we prefer not to.
Milk Pick-Up: Since we milk the cows every day of the week, we have milk pick-ups available every day. When you sign up for milk, you sign up to get the milk that was milked the morning of your pickup day. The milk will be in our milk fridge with your name on it. Please note that Oregon law requires that you pick up your raw milk from the farm, so we cannot deliver. The good news is that we are close to town and are a convenient drive for many.`
Jar Etiquette: Cast Iron Farm owns the milk jars. Currently, we provide these jars for your use free of charge. Please practice good jar etiquette. These jars circulate around our raw milk community. A jar you return this week will have another family’s milk in it next week. Likewise, your jar was in another home just last week. We know how handy those half gallon jars can be. However, due to the incidence of food allergies and possible contamination from other fermentation, we ask that you keep the milk jars separate from your own personal stash. Do not store any other food in them and definitely don’t use them to make kombucha or sauerkraut. Please wash the jars after you have emptied them. The dishwasher is best. If you lack a dishwasher, please rinse them out well and DO NOT PUT ON THE LID unless all the water has been drained from the jar. Wet jars can sometimes mold on the lid, and the mold is almost impossible to completely remove. Also, try to not forget your empty bottles at home. We realize that this happens occasionally, but please do not make a habit of it. Store your jars away from where pets can get to them (dogs love to chew on the lids). If you break a jar or a lid, please consider donating for its replacement. The jars cost $3 each. Taking good care of the milk jars helps keep the cost of your milk down.
Transporting Milk: We try to keep our customer base in the Mcminnville area. We do this for two reasons. 1.) We like to get to know our milk customers and our community. 2.) Raw milk only stays safe if you transport it safely. Bacteria in milk grows incrementally faster as the temperature increases. The growth is slow in fridge temperatures, but as the milk is being transported, it warms slowly, and the bacteria grows more quickly as the milk warms. This contributes to lessening the shelf life of you milk. Pick up your milk as your last errand, and if you live beyond the Mcminnville area, or getting your milk is not your last errand, bring a cooler to transport your milk in. We provide ice free of charge in our creamery.
Milk Shelf Life: Raw milk is a little bit different than pasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk can last longer on the shelf than raw milk, but it’s completely devoid of good bacteria. The shelf life of raw milk depends on your fridge temperature. If it is turned down to be cold (around 34 degrees), the milk should last through the week and as long as two or three weeks. Check your fridge temperature to make sure that it is cold. The cooler the fridge, the longer the milk shelf life. Store your milk in the bottom of the fridge, not in the door. However, when raw milk goes “bad” it is not actually bad. Unless the milk was exposed to an outside bacteria, “bad” raw milk is simply called clabber or buttermilk. It can be used in cooking as you would use yogurt. Honestly, we almost never have milk go bad, and when it does, we cook with it. However, please do discard any milk that has an unpleasant odor or taste.
Need extras? Call us if you are needing extra milk for a project, and we can usually accommodate.
Goat/Sheep Milk: Though we occasionally milk goats and sheep for our personal cheesemaking projects, we are not legally allowed to sell milk from more than one species.
The cream: Raw, unhomogenized milk has cream on top! It takes about 24 hours for the cream to settle out of the milk. You might see a cream line starting to form in about 12 hours, but the milk is really settled at 24 hours. Our cows usually give about 25% cream, so feel free to skim it to make butter or to put in your coffee. You can also just shake the jar back up and drink your milk whole. Whole milk you find in the grocery store is at 3.25% butterfat. Our cows produce between 4% and 4.5%, so if you do decide to skim the cream, the milk that is left is still analogous to the whole milk you would find in the grocery store.
Plastic Lids: We like using the ½ gallon jars, but the lids are a bit of a problem. The metal lids that usually come on canning jars are coated with a BPA plastic that we don’t like touching our milk. Instead, we use plastic lids that are BPA free, but they do occasionally leak. If you tighten your lids before you leave, they tend not to leak, but occasionally they do. If this is a problem, talk to us, as there are a few solutions.
Sterilization: We sterilize all our milking equipment every day, including our milk jars. This is for our safety and for yours. We take great care to ensure our milk is fresh and clean. Please do return clean jars to us, but do know that we will also sterilize them for use in the future.
Thank You: We enjoy milking our cows very much, and we appreciate the opportunity to provide milk for our community. Thank you for supporting our farm and raw milk in Oregon.