Jan 23 2009

Low-Carb Science: Raw Milk Yogurt

Now that I’ve written my position paper on raw milk, I can move on to the article I had in mind in the first place: making raw milk yogurt.  (As Bill Cosby said in Buck Buck/Fat Albert, “I told you that story so I could tell you this one.”)  If you’re still not sure about using raw milk, or only have pasteurized milk from the store, you can still use this recipe; just watch for a special note in part 2.

1.  What you’ll need:

  • Pot big enough to heat and stir milk in
  • Whisk
  • Thermometer
  • Milk (a quart or more)
  • Yogurt (about 1/4 cup per quart of milk)
  • Ladle
  • Containers with lids
  • A cooler big enough to hold the containers
Stuff You Need

Stuff You Need

Yogurt Containers

Yogurt Containers

Climate Control Center

Climate Control Center

The milk can be skim or whole or have any amount of cream in it that you like.  If you’re still reading my blog you’re probably not afraid of fat, so the more cream the better.  Cream adds some smoothness and richness.  Fresh milk is best; if it’s starting to sour at all, unpredictable things seem to happen in the conflict between the yogurt cultures and the sour milk cultures.

Any yogurt will work for the starter as long as it has active cultures.  You can see in the picture that I’ve got some typical brand, probably whatever was on sale.  If you want to get fancy, you can order specialty starters that have certain strains of bacteria, but I haven’t bothered with that.  Make sure you get plain yogurt, or at least a flavor that won’t taste weird when it’s diluted way down.  The amount of sugar in the yogurt starter doesn’t matter much, since it will be so diluted in the final product, and the fermentation process eats a lot of the sugar anyway.  Once you’ve made a batch, you can use a bit of it to start the next batch.  There are also powdered and granulated starters you can buy; to use those follow the instructions that come with them.

If you have an actual yogurt maker, you won’t need the containers and lids.  I’m just too cheap to buy an extra appliance when I can do just fine with ordinary equipment I already have.

2. Warm the milk

Warming the Milk

Warming the Milk

Heat the milk over a low flame to 110°F, stirring occasionally.  It took me about 30 minutes to get this half-gallon of refrigerated milk to that temperature.  (If you get the milk straight from the cow, it’s very close to this temperature already!)  While you’re doing this, get your yogurt starter out so it can be warming up some too.

Note: If you don’t trust your batch of raw milk, or you’re working with unknown milk from the store, you can pasteurize it yourself by heating it to at least 145° for 30 minutes, or 165° for 30 seconds.  Then let it cool to 110° and continue with the next step.

3. Add the Starter

Liquify the Starter

Liquify the Starter

Prepare Starter

Prepare Starter

Dip about a cup of the warm milk into another container and stir the yogurt into it.  This thins the yogurt so it will stir into the milk well.  If you try to stir the yogurt directly into a large vat of milk, it may be hard to get all the clumps broken up and stirred in completely.

Stirring in the Starter

Stirring in the Starter

Now whisk this mixture well into the rest of the milk.  When it’s good and stirred in, you’re ready to store it so it can do its fermenting thing.

4. Fermenting

Fill Containers

Fill Containers

Ladle the mixture into your containers.  Any size container will work.  Use small ones if you’d like individual servings, or large ones if you’re planning to make a big batch of cream cheese or frozen yogurt and don’t need it divided up so much.

Make sure the lids are good and tight, then add about an inch of hot water to the bottom of your cooler.  You want it about 110-115° too, which is probably a little below the hottest you get out of your tap.  The purpose of this is to help maintain the temperature inside the cooler as long as possible.

Stack your containers of yogurt in the cooler, put the lid on, and put it in a warm, out-of-the-way place.  Room temperature is okay, but if you have a laundry room or some place that’s warmer, that would be even better.  They need to be still to avoid separating, so you don’t want them where they might get bumped or shaken.

Ready to Ferment

Ready to Ferment

5.  Finished!

After eight hours, move the containers to your refrigerator.  Congratulations!  Your yogurt is now ready to eat or use in other recipes.  If it’s a little too sour for you, try stopping it at seven hours next time; to make it more sour, give it an extra hour.  This isn’t an exact science; the time will vary a little depending on the strength of your yogurt culture, the exact temperature, how well the temperature is maintained, your tastes, and so on.

6.  Variations

If you’re planning to use all the yogurt in something, like a batch of cream cheese, you can save a step by replacing the cooler and the little containers with a thermos.  Run some hot water into the thermos to get it warm, then dump that out and fill it with your yogurt/milk mixture.  Screw the lid on tightly and set aside for eight hours like the instructions above, then check it.

Low-Carb Science: Raw Milk Yogurt, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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5 Comments

  • Becka says:

    Do you have a recipe for homemade cream cheese? Please share!

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  • Dee says:

    I’ve been making yogurt for years, and started making kefir and cheese about a year ago. Yogurt can be made a little thicker by adding (whisking in) some powdered milk prior to heating. I prefer non-instant, but am having trouble finding that nowadays. Thicker yogurt makes it easier to hang. I’ve found that using a Greek starter also makes thicker yogurt. I have a funnel lined with very fine mesh for making yogurt cheese, but it was too small for my batches of cheese. From experience, please do NOT use regular “cheesecloth” sold in most stores – find a good stout linen tea towel or 100% cotton muslin. Yogurt would fall through the very loose weave in that coarse stuff most places sell.

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  • Thanks for the tip the flavor is so good with the pawered milk, i love homemade, is so healthy and it isnt difficult to do.

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