During the nineteenth century, the woman of the household was usually responsible for making cheese and butter. She would set milk out in pans to separate the cream from the milk. The thick cream would rise to the top of the pan, and she would skim it off. The cream was used to make butter.
Milk was a very important resource for a farmer in the nineteenth century. With little meat available, dairy products such as butter and cheese were the best way for people to get protein in their diets. Cows had to be milked twice a day. During the mid-nineteenth century, milking was done entirely by hand. Farmers sat on a stool and milked into a bucket.
Making cheese involved several steps. First, milk was separated into liquid whey and chunky curds. The whey was drained off to leave the curds. A cheese press squeezed out the last bit of liquid, and the blocks of cheese were rubbed with lard or butter to keep out air while the cheese aged.