Monday, November 7, 2011

yogurt for the masses

Thick, tangy Greek yogurt became a favorite of mine during pregnancy.  Because it is strained and most of the whey is taken out, it is very high in protein.  When I was following the Brewer diet, Chobani was my favorite brand - 16 grams of protein in 6 oz of yogurt!  You can't do much better unless you're eating meat.

I toyed with the idea of making my own yogurt, but there didn't really seem to be any reason to.  The brand I buy doesn't have any preservatives, and it's made with milk with no growth hormones.  Then, my world was rocked by this book:

I won't go totally into it now, because it's a huge topic, but this book promotes healing from a variety of illnesses through diet.  I'm not sure if I totally buy it, but I don't think that improving nutrition can hurt anything.

The author advocates yogurt (and the whey that you can strain off of yogurt) as one of the best sources of healthy bacteria for your digestive system.  You know how yogurt you see in the store says "contains five live cultures!" or whatever?  That's good, but you can do much better.  You can multiply the probiotics in your yogurt considerably by making your own.  See, yogurt you buy in the store has to be made with pasteurized milk (at least in the state of Kansas, it does).  Pasteurization kills many of the live active cultures, some of which are then added back in during the culturing process.  But if you make your own from raw milk, you never lose all that healthy bacteria to begin with!

I found raw milk at our local dairy farm and decided to try my hand at making some yogurt.  Raw, unpasteurized milk is teeming with healthful bacteria.  It's veritably alive.  It doesn't take much to colonize it with good bacteria.

 I just took 1/3 cup of plain whole-milk Greek yogurt and mixed it into half a gallon of raw whole milk in a large Dutch oven.  I chose this brand because it had the most live active cultures of any at the store (seven!).

I took the mixture and heated it on the lowest setting my oven would reach (150).  You need to maintain a temperature between 105-113 to allow the bacteria to do their work.  It was a bit of a trick keeping the temperature steady.  They make special yogurt-makers, but it seems a little silly to buy a special piece of equipment just to keep something at 110 degrees.  So, I would set the oven, then turn it off, then set it again.  You could also stick a heating pad on high in there.  I just kept measuring it with an instant-read thermometer to make sure it was roughly in the right range.

And then you just leave it for a minimum of 24 hours.  A crazy thing happens.  It thickens and sours a bit.  It starts to taste, well, like yogurt.  After you're done with it, pack it into clean glass jars and put in the fridge.  You can strain out the whey and make it thicker, but be sure to drink the whey or add it into a smoothie or something because it is packed with good stuff.


Jen said...

Whoa! I never thought of making my own yogurt. Gotta try this.

Emily said...

Do it! The results are sort of unpredictable because pasteurized milk is what gives us that smooth, uniform yogurt texture. But I love it and the tang it unbeatable.