Wednesday, October 7, 2009

To blog or not to blog - that is the question...

I have several blogs I follow regularly - mostly cooking/food blogs, as well as a few parenting, farm, and humor blogs.  I will never be as entertaining or as awesome as all those blogs.  However, I am passionate about food & health and have decided to jump into the world of blogging.

This morning as I sat in the kitchen drinking my cold cup of raw milk I decided that this day was the day to start my blog.  I just finished making a new batch of yogurt with my farm fresh milk and was thinking about my transition to a different way of eating.  "Raw milk?  That stuff will kill you!"  "Organic food?  That's just so they can charge you more for it!"  You know, I used to buy into those beliefs and so much more.  However, I got tired of my crappy health and am now a believer in food as medicine.

So if you read my blog (~tap, tap~ Hey, is this thing even on? Anybody out there?), I hope that you learn something new or try a recipe or eat a little bit healthier afterwards.

Today I will leave you with my method for making yogurt.  I need to warn you in advance, though - once you start eating homemade yogurt made from farm fresh milk, you will never again be able to tolerate the processed junk they sell in the grocery stores.

How to make yogurt:
Materials you need:
large heavy-bottomed pot (stainless steel or non-chipped enamel coated), thermometer (long stemmed w/ pot clip is useful), yogurt culture (I get mine from New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. - see below), and yogurt maker (I use a Yogotherm)

About milk:
Farm fresh, grass fed milk is hands down the best milk you can use. Otherwise, look for low-heat pasteurized, organic milk that ideally is non-homogenized (homogenization breaks up/alters components in the milk). Whatever you do, avoid ultra-pasteurized milk - the high heat pasteurization ruins it. In fact you cannot make cheese with UHP milk because the proteins have been altered (damaged)!

To make yogurt:
  • Put a couple ice cubes in the bottom of your pot and swirl to coat the bottom - this helps prevent burning the milk on the bottom of the pot.
  • Pour 2 qts (1/2 gallon) of milk into the pot. Heat over medium (sometimes I edge towards med-high) heat to exactly 185*F. Do not boil your milk!! I stir occasionally, but don't scrape the bottom or you risk disrupting the scald protection the ice cubes created.
  • Once you hit 185*F, remove from heat and let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. This allows the proteins to knit together and make your yogurt creamy. Note: There are raw milk purists who only heat their milk to 85*-110*F, which saves more of the natural enzymes in the milk; however I really like the creamy consistency I get from heating the milk to 185*F.
  • A skin will form on the top of your milk. You may skim if off or simply stir it back into the milk after 10 minutes.
  • Transfer your pot to a sinkful of cold water to quickly cool it to 110*F. Pour the milk into your yogotherm or yogurt-maker (some people just use large mason jars and put them in an oven warmed by a pilot light!). Sprinkle your yogurt culture over the milk and stir in. Cover and let sit undisturbed in a warm place for approximately 12 hours. Your yogurt may be ready after just 6 hours, but the longer it sits, the thicker it will get.
  • When done, refrigerate & enjoy! If you love "greek style" yogurt, drain some of the whey off your yogurt by putting it in a large strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth or butter muslin. Save the whey - you can use it in breads, fermented foods, etc. - it is full of protein and beneficial probiotics (great stuff!).
Need yogurt & cheesemaking supplies?  Go to my favorite place for all things cheese:
New England Cheesemaking Supply Co.

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