Friday, May 23, 2008

Milk and Honey

Did you know that honey is good at curing burns? Check out this interesting blog (Note: I cannot vouch for the quality of the comments). Two things come to mind: "Wow, God is amazing" and "I sure have a lot to learn."



So, last night I made my first batch of yogurt. I do believe that James and I could do the amazing thing (for us) of drinking a gallon of milk in a week (neither of us are milk drinkers naturally), but for the past several weeks, the milk has gone sour on day four, and we are left with half a gallon of unappetizing milk. Thankfully, raw milk that has soured is not like the clotted, putrid stuff processed milk turns into when it goes rancid. Sour milk can be used in soup and baking without ill effect, and I probably could drink it, but don't really care to. So, in order to alleviate waste, I decided to turn half of my gallon of milk into a delicious morning treat and make my own yogurt.

Most of the information I gleaned about yogurt making was from several helpful websites. Words like "sterilize" and "inoculate" and tools like "thermometer" and "incubator" scared me into feeling like I was about to do some weird science lab experiment that might succeed in killing us all, but I determined to be very careful and put my full attention into cooking, for once.

After dishwasher and hot-soapy-water-handwash sterilizing the stainless steel pot, thermometer, spoon, measuring cup, and 9 1/2 pint canning jars, I slowly heated eight cups of raw milk on the stove to 180 degrees while stirring to make sure that the milk on the bottom didn't scorch. It smelled heavenly and made me think of sweet custard. Then I set the pan of milk in the sink which was half filled with cold water. It took two minutes for the temperature to drop down to 110 degrees (the perfect incubating temperature) when I quickly removed it. I then mixed a portion of the cooled milk with a half a cup of Nancy's Organic Whole Milk yogurt until smooth then added the mixture to the pot of milk and stirred well. I ladled the warm milk into canning jars, tightened the lids, and set them in water in my slow cooker had already preheated to "warm." I then put the thermometer in the water, put the lid on, set a timer for three hours, and walked away. Or, I wish I had . . .

Anxious fluttering cook that I am, I put the lid on, took the lid off, turned the heat up, turned the heat down, and THEN walked away. However, my unfortunate decision to turn the heat up to "low," however briefly (maybe 10 minutes), resulted in the heat gradually continuing to rise to 130 degrees which killed the yogurt culture and prevented it from working on the milk. Who knows, probably all the fiddling with it didn't help much either (I read that the milk should not be bumped or disturbed while incubating). Three hours later, the milk tasted like a sweet, warm drink--but definitely not yogurt.

Then I got the bold new idea to try again. I poured all of the milk, still warm, into the pan added ANOTHER half cup of active yogurt, stirred it all together, ladled it into the jars, set the jars in the still warm slow cooker, stuck in the thermometer, put the lid on top, and did not touch a single jar (although I peeked through the glass at the thermometer now and then--it stayed constantly in it's correct temperature range). Three hours later, I gingerly took out a jar and gently tilted it back and forth. I was happy to see the thick liquid giving way to soft globs of congealed yogurt. I tasted it too, and although it retained some natural sweetness, it also had that very distinct yogurt flavor. Yay! My cow made yogurt!

Although my yogurt can be eaten with a spoon, it also tasted delicious as a thick yogurt drink. I added a teaspoon of grade B maple syrup (I have read that fruit sugars can interfere with the ability of the yogurt to "do its job"), stirred well, and drank up. A sweet success.

Next week, I hope to do things differently:
--Obviously, I don't want to kill my starter by over heating the yogurt!
--I will buy more yogurt starter that is as fresh as the store can provide (once I get a good run going, I can use my own yogurt for starter, but with my unorthodox beginning, I wanted to try again).
--I will look into the possibility of adding a small quantity of powdered milk to my yogurt to add more thickness and consistency.

But for now, I have eight beautiful jars of yogurt to eat for breakfast and a half gallon of raw milk to drink before Sunday. Moo!

4 comments:

  1. Wow, I am totally jealous. I'm going to come for a visit just to watch you do things. :)

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  2. Cool! I'm looking into how to make my own kefir. We just bought our first two gallons of raw milk this last week. It was weird to have to shake the milk up before we poured it, but it feels so much more natural and fun.

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  3. andrea,
    will you please pass on our love to brady and aspen. we thought of them today as they were getting married and wished we could have been there.
    thanks
    jud, tanya, riley & kinley

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  4. Andrea,
    You are so adventurous! I am glad that your first start wasn't a complete waste since you could use it and try again. That is nice to know. I love yogurt, and so does Canaan. Dougle likes it too, and he eats it to help his tummy. It seems to work. I wish we could get fresh milk here, though I'm not sure yet where to start to even look for it. Maybe when we get more comfortable with language and stuff. I drank fresh (non-pasteurized) goats milk for a couple years. It was great. I had developed an allergy to cow's milk, so my parents bought goats! We just kept all that we didn't drink (we got about a gallon or two a day during milking season) in the freezer or sold it. We thawed it when it wasn't milking season. Ahh, the days! Ok, so this comment is already way too long! Peace,
    Lucy

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