Saturday, June 18, 2011

Second "Frontier" Fave: Raw Milk Yogurt

As a follow-up to yesterday's post on Just-Fruit "Frontier" Jam, here is the technique I regularly use to make our yogurt.  Thank you to my friend Randi for the know-how on this one!  I also referred to Nourishing Traditions, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Internal Bliss and these tutorials (1, 2 & 3).
Step 1:  Get out a half-gallon of fresh, raw, creamy milk from a source you trust-- grass fed and organic are not optional here. 

Step 2:  Gently heat the milk to between 101 and 118 degrees F.  You don't want to go above 118 or else you will start killing the enzymes in the milk (thence kind of defeating the purpose of starting with raw milk, though of course it's still going to be better than most milk).  The first time I did this I borrowed a friend's meat thermometer and stopped at precisely 110 degrees, noting how hot it felt on my pinky.  Since then I guesstimate.  It's about the right temp when you stick your finger in and it feels hot-- too hot to keep in for long but not so hot you scald yourself.  The milk should not be boiling or frothing.   I use a wooden spoon to stir it every so often.  The milk heats up rather quickly.

Meanwhile, have your yogurt starter waiting in the bottom of the jars you'll use.  Most sources recommend about 2 T of yogurt as a starter for a half gallon.  I now guesstimate; a bit more or less doesn't seem to really make that much difference.  You do want enough to jump start the fermentation, but not so much that it all turns to whey.

Step 3:  As soon as the milk reaches 110, pour a little into the jar(s) with the starter in them, and stir.  This warms the starter up a bit so it isn't shocked by the hot milk.  Then pour in the rest of the milk.  Stir gently a few times.  Quickly put the jars into a cooler stuffed with towels for insulation.  Leave to incubate over night.  I usually put it in the fridge in the morning so it doesn't get too tangy.

Optional Step 4- Thickening the Yogurt: I usually do this with half of the yogurt if it's too runny-- strain it through a coffee filter in a strainer over a glass bowl for a few hours.  Keep the liquid (whey) and use it in smoothies, soaking grains, baking or as a probiotic supplement (it's tangy and not bad tasting).  The yogurt remaining will be as thick and creamy as you want it to be.  If you let it keep dripping then you'll end up with raw cream cheese (yum!!).  I don't bother dripping the yogurt we use for smoothies since it gets slushed up anyway! :)

My favorite ways to enjoy yogurt are with just-fruit jam in it and a dusting of cinnamon, or with fresh or frozen berries, cinnamon, ginger and raw honey or Grade B maple syrup drizzled on it.  Eowyn is quite a fan as well!


Jacqui O. said...

Christina, I am loving these ideas! One day I hope to have the opportunity to try them all, especially raw milk, home-fermented yummies, and tallow.

I'm curious about your thoughts on processed dairy, like my fave, Chobani yogurt. I've read mixed studies about whether or not lactose in any form is healthy. When I was vegan for a month my body craved yogurt the most--especially my GI tract! Dairy alternatives like almond milk (yummy!) may indeed be tasty too, but nothing can satisfactorily replace yogurt and cheese! What do you think?

Eowyn's Heir said...

Hey Jacqui! I can't wait to home-ferment too-- my garden just can't grow fast enough! :) I accidentaly made pickles the other day, when I made a cucumber salad with an oil and salt dressing, and left it in the fridge for a few days before finishing it off. I realized all the cucs were crisp and crunchy and slightly tangy... then I realized I'd pickled them! YUM! So anyway I think it's pretty easy! Definitely will chronicle my journey.

As far as pasteurized dairy, I think it's better than nothing IF (huge if) it is cultured AND full fat AND all-natural-- for example, full-fat sour cream with only cream & enzymes is good, even made from non-organic ultra-pasteurized milk. The fermentation (culturing) restores a lot of the enzymes and pre-digests a lot of the lactase. Unfortunately it can't take out the pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other toxins from commercially raised dairy cattle, which is why organic and raw is better!

As far as lactose goes, we do have a limited ability to digest it as humans, which does decrease with age, so I think it's a safe bet that God intended us to drink different milks. Raw milk contains lactase, and cultured milk products (cheeses, sour cream, kefir, yogurt) all let the cultures do the lactose-digesting. Butter has very little lactose and milk protein (it's almost all fat), and ghee (clarified butter, used in India and other hot countries) contains none at all-- which is why it's used in hot countries without needing to be refrigerated.

Here's a good little story that I think kind of answers your question in a roundabout way:

Eowyn's Heir said...

As far as non-organic, run-of-the-mill commercial milk, I won't let Eowyn touch it with a ten foot pole, and I only drink it in small amounts, and even then only in cream, half & half or whole-milk forms. I do make yogurt out of it, though, if we have extra and I don't want to waste it (before a trip or something).

ddavis said...

okay I have mine in the cooler, trying it for the first time tonight! Is the milk still warm in the morning? Other places I've read lets the milk/yogurt mixture sit in a crock pot or on a heating pad to keep the temperature between 100 & 110. Gotta say I'm a bit worried about leaving raw milk out all night. :-P I actually have a heating pad set on low in the bottom of my cooler, then the towels so the jar isn't directly on the heating pad. Thinking that will keep it warmer. I'm nervous about this one! :)