Cream separator
Cream separator


After much procrastination we finally decided to go ahead and order an electric cream separator.  The purpose of the machine is to separate milk into cream and skimmed milk.  We had been using an ancient manual Vestifalya, on loan from our friends, which had to be clamped to the table before use.  There was nothing wrong with it, it did the job perfectly but it was hard work and really needed two people, one to turn the handle to get it up to speed and another to pour in the milk and make sure the jugs were in the right place to collect the output.

After years of striving to reduce our bill, I tend to prefer gadgets which don’t use electricity. There is a manual version available and I did consider it but in this instance I thought some power was essential.

There are a few separators on the market, Ascott do some nice looking ones, but they were all way beyond our budget which consisted of my birthday money.

I scoured the internet and found a site aptly called Cream Separator.  They sold machines made in the Ukraine and not only were they fairly reasonably priced, they were also based in the UK.

Inevitably I turned to eBay (a search for “cream separators” will bring them up) and I found the same devices for sale only quite a bit cheaper, the only drawback being that the companies selling them were based in the Ukraine.  Now I know we are all part of Europe, but it’s still a bit of a worry ordering from distant shores and hoping that the goods will arrive in one piece and not get confiscated in customs.  Their feedback was pretty good and a couple of them gave you the opportunity to “make an offer”.  My first two offers were rejected but the third was accepted and I managed to bag the whole thing including delivery for £110.98.

We were then faced with the anxious wait for it to arrive and followed its journey tracking closely, worrying every time it seemed to be held up.  It took 13 days to finally land on our doorstep and we couldn’t wait to try it out.  The only negative was that it seemed fairly light.

Because we had used the manual Vestifalya which weighed half a tonne, it was no mystery to us how it worked so the fact that the instructions were in a foreign language didn’t bother us.  It did come with a DVD in English.

It was a smart red cylinder with a huge aluminium bowl – I bought the metal rather than the plastic version as I read somewhere that they were more robust.

The drawback was that it came with a two pin plug and to get it working we had to borrow an adaptor from the electric fence and hope that all the beasts didn’t make a break for it.

We put it together, plugged it in, switched it on and thankfully it worked.  It is fairly noisy but not deafeningly so.   It takes a little while to get up to speed and does vibrate and rattle until it gets there.  Once the correct speed is reached it sounds much more healthy.  We made sure that the tap was closed and with the machine running poured the milk into the bowl.

Bowl and tap
Bowl and tap

As with the Vestifalya we gradually opened the tap (which is plastic) and after a short while the skimmed milk started flowing.  It was some time before the cream began to accumulate in the second spout and the litre and a half of that morning’s milk that I put through was not sufficient to move the cream down the spout and into the jug.  I warmed up milk from previous days to around 30 degrees C and poured that into the bowl (if the milk is straight from the goat or cow, it is not necessary to heat it as it is usually warm enough), the cream began to flow.

We found that the cream was very thick and realised that some adjustment would be needed to thin it down a bit.  When we opened up the unit after all the milk had gone through, we found a lot of cream stuck inside and scooped it out with a spoon.

The cream was lovely and silky and tasted great, but I think that was more to do with the goats than the machine.

After use you need to take it all apart for cleaning and the drum assembly does contain a large number of discs that all need washing.

Washing up
Washing up

On the second use we adjusted the screw at the top of the drum with the tool supplied and the cream was much thinner but as we learnt from the Vestifalya, one of the things to remember is to tighten the nut at the top otherwise milk will leak out.

My only reservation is that it is not as robust as the Vestifalya which will probably last for another 100 years but I’m hoping that this machine will be adequate for my needs.  I have two goats in milk at the moment, one a maiden milker who only produces around a pint a day, making their total milk output approximately 2 litres a day.

I shall probably use it once or twice a week, putting a few litres through at a time.  It does recommend that you let the motor cool down in between batches but I don’t think that will be necessary with my small amounts.  It does claim to be able to handle 80 litres an hour.

In summary, for the smallholder that just wants to produce a pint or so of cream on a weekly basis to use in cooking or to make butter I think it is ideal.  If you have a cow producing many litres twice a day its probably not the machine for you.