RECIPES: Home-Made Yogurt
Here's why I make my own yogurt.
First, home-made yogurt is indescribably delicious. The long, slow culturing imparts a tang that doesn't obliterate the cowness. See, it's indescribable.
Second, even with the best commercial yogurts, I have complaints. Take for instance Straus. Straus is a lovely organic dairy located in Marshall, CA along the shores of Tomales Bay. Straus is my favorite non-raw organic milk. The Straus' are good people who make a very good product. And they use glass bottles, my favorite! While their yogurt tastes just fine, I have a problem with the texture. Personally, I like my yogurt to separate. It makes me feel closer to the cow, closer to milk's natural form if I can see the whey pooling up in the container. For some reason, the whey in Straus yogurt doesn't separate easily. I don't believe it's homogenized but it has a homogenized-like texture — too creamy, too blended for my taste. Nancys, another decent organic brand, contains milk powder which brings me to my third point.
Third, many commercial yogurts contain milk powder. I avoid milk powder; it's a refined food. My intuition tells me: AVOID. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon make bolder statements. In "Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry," they say that commercial dehydration methods oxidize the cholesterol in milk. Oxidized cholesterol, as you know, causes arterial plaque. They also say that the high temperature drying "creates large quantities of cross-linked proteins and nitrite compounds, which are potent carcinogens, as well as free glutamic acid, which is toxic to the nervous system." I couldn't find any support for this in my cursory online search, but I remember that back in 2006, China rejected 100 tons of milk powder by West Farm (Darigold) because it was over the safety limit for nitrites. Which, in retrospect, is hilarious given China's abysmal record of food safety in the last 2 years.
Fourth, home made yogurt has less lactose if prepared properly. For those of us with lactose issues, this is important. If you culture your home-made yogurt for a minimum of 24 hours (unlike commercial yogurt which is fermented for about 4 hours), the fermentation process almost completely digests the lactose, according to Elaine Gottschall, researcher and creator of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and late author of Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet, a book I highly recommend. Lactose in milk is a disaccharide and the fermentation converts it to galactose which is a monosaccharide that is easy to absorb.
Ah now, with all that said, I provide you with directions on how to make your own wonderful yogurt. And I'm happy to report that neither a yogurt maker or a special culture is necessary.
Home Made Cow's Milk Yogurt
Makes 1 quart
1/4 cup good quality commercial plain yogurt (or previous home made batch)
1 quart pasteurized whole milk, non-homogenized
a candy thermometer, if you want to be precise
- Bring one quart of milk to the simmer stage (180 degrees) and remove from heat. Stir often to prevent scorching and sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Cover and cool to about 110 degrees. It is very important that you allow the temperature to drop so as not to kill the bacterial culture you are now ready to introduce.
- Remove about one-half cup cooled milk and make a paste with one quarter cup of good quality commercial yogurt. The commercial yogurt you use should be unflavored and unsweetened. You could use a starter but why spend the extra bucks? Commercial yogurt works fine. You can use your home made yogurt as a starter for your next batch.
- Mix the paste with the remainder of the cooled milk and stir thoroughly.
- Pour milk into any appropriately sized shallow glass, enamel or stainless steel container (I use a Le Creuset pot), cover and let stand for at least 24 hours at 100-110 degrees up to a maximum of 29 hours. After 30 hours, it starts to kill the good bacteria. To keep the correct temperature for the culture, I use a 60 watt bulb in my oven and leave the light on. No other heat is needed. Remember, too high a temperature will kill the bacterial culture and will prevent proper "digestion" (conversion) of the lactose. Too low of a temperature will prevent the activation of bacterial enzymes and will result in incomplete "digestion" of the lactose.
- Remove from oven and refrigerate.
While this yogurt may not be as thick as commercial yogurt, it will be a true yogurt with no thickeners or extenders. Speaking of thickeners, sometimes I add some Straus cream to the milk in the beginning if I want a more viscous consistency. For a Greek-style yogurt, strain the whey with cheese cloth (as in the photo) or flour sack towels.
When you're ready to eat your home-made yogurt, try and eat only one cup. I dare you! It's so delicious, you'll be wanting more. Try the fresh yogurt with with sage honey drizzled on top or with fresh berries to make your mouth say wow.
FOR RAW MILK YOGURT: In step 1, only heat the milk to 110 degrees so as not to kill the good stuff which is why you buy raw milk in the first place. I like raw milk yogurt better than the pasteurized, both in flavor and texture.
Tomorrow, I hope to post on Coconut Milk Yogurt, my latest obsession.
Related: Got Frankenmilk?
Photo by MomtheBarbarian