Monday, June 29, 2009

Made With Raw Milk: Yogurt

Although we think few things are more delightful than a tall glass of fresh milk, we also enjoy other foodstuffs made from raw milk. One of the simplest things to do with milk is make yogurt.

As with many recipes, options and opinions for how best to make your own yogurt abound on the internet and in books. You may need to experiment a bit to suit your own tastes, equipment and time constraints.

After some trial and error, my favorite way to make raw milk yogurt is to begin with a starter of actual yogurt. Powdered starter cultures are available, but I find that using regular yogurt to start with works well. You'll need to use a plain (unflavored and unsweetened) yogurt as your starter. You can borrow half a cup of yogurt from a friend who makes their own, buy some fresh yogurt from the farm, or get some from the store.

A word of caution about using store-bought yogurt as a starter: many store yogurts, even organic brands, contain few live cultures or add fillers like pectin. When selecting a yogurt for your starter, make sure you get one that lists "live active cultures" - the more the better! See if you can find one without anything in the ingredient list other than cultured milk, and get whole milk yogurt if you can. If the whey has separated, you'll need to stir it down into the whole container before using it to start your yogurt.

To make the yogurt, heat about a quart of raw milk in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent the milk from sticking to the pan, until the milk is steaming and slightly frothy at the edges, but not boiling. Remove from heat, and allow to cool to about 110 - 116 degrees (that's about the temperature of warm bath water - like the temperature of water you'd use to make something with yeast). Next, stir your starter yogurt into the warm milk until it's well dissolved, and put into an incubator.

I use a Salton Yogurt Maker to incubate yogurt, because I found one on eBay a few years ago for about $10.  Although I haven't tried them personally, I've heard that individual serving yogurt incubators and yogurt makers from other brands are also good.  If you don't have a yogurt maker or can't afford to invest in one, you can use any number of things to make sure your milk mixture doesn't drop below 110 degrees - a quick Google search suggests a styrofoam cooler filled with warm water, a crockpot set on low, or simply wrapping the milk mixture in a towel. Whatever method you choose, prepare to keep the milk warm for about 6 hours. If you like a really sour yogurt, you can leave it longer, up to 24 hours. After that point, your yogurt will be set and you can let it come to room temperature and then put it in your refrigerator.

Make sure to reserve a half cup of the yogurt to use for your next batch before you add fruit or honey to the yogurt, or enjoy it plain!

Have you ever tried making yogurt? What is your favorite method?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

1 comment:

  1. As I read this, my children and I were enjoying yogurt made from milk from Windy Acres!

    It is so tasty! I used to make yogurt from the organic milk at the grocery and use plain yogurt to culture it. I made it in the crockpot and it always turned out runny, so we just drank it.

    When we switched to yummy raw milk, I bought the yogurt culture at the Windy Acres Farm Shop and now it's thick and wonderful!

    I follow the directions on the starter package and then run hot water in a glass gallon jar, to warm it up. After I pour out the hot water, I pour the cultured milk into the glass jar and put it into a large grocery bag,made to keep things cold, and wrap the jar in towels. I let it sit overnight and I have thick, perfectly set yogurt in the morning!