24 July 2009

Raw Milk, and the Making of Yogurt

I've taken a step into the abyss in the last few days - since we got our first batch of fresh milk. From here on out, I will refer to the milk we drink as REAL milk, as opposed to the store-bought, pus-laden, antibiotic and hormone filled garbage we used to drink. Okay, enough ranting-on with the post.

It is not illegal to drink real milk (aka raw, fresh, or unpasteurized). It is highly recommended that you inspect the cows and farm from which you will be obtaining the milk, to ensure the animals and location are clean and healthy. For obvious reasons.

I must admit, I was a little, well, SCARED, at first. I was hesitant about what it would taste like (I formerly used to drink skim milk from the store-BLECH), I was scared it would be thick and gross, I was scared I would die (ok, not really, but I had fallen into the whole "believe everything the government tells you about stuff" conspiracy regarding pasteurization). I actually waited a day, while the milk sat in the fridge, to gather my courage and take a sip.

It was DELICIOUS. Smooth and creamy, and a little sweet. It tasted NOTHING like store-bought. The milk I tasted first was whole milk, so it was as it came from the cow (when you let it sit, cream rises to the top-just shake it before you pour a glass, to mix it all together). This is the highest fat option. You could also strain off the cream, to use in coffee, to make butter, or cheese. The remainder is milk, a little less sweet. The third option is when making butter from your cream, the liquid that remains after the butter separates is buttermilk. This has even less fat than the milk.

Ever since getting the milk, I've been thinking about what to make with it. We had the equivalent of 4.5 mason jars (almost 5 litres!) so I made butter a couple of nights ago (already eaten, on bread and popcorn), and I have frozen 2 small containers of buttermilk for use in baking and cooking. After skimming the cream off of 2 jars, I have 2 jars of milk (one in the freezer) and we've drank half of one. That left us with 2 jars of whole milk. We are drinking one and the other, I made into yogurt. Yes, yogurt.

Today I perused a bunch of different sites and decided to follow one that seemed the most straight-forward, but didn't add in a bunch of stuff like she did. Here's what I used:

~one 1L mason jar of whole milk, shaken to incorporate cream
~one large saucepan
~1/4 cup yogurt starter (I used Western brand Plain Natural 2% Yogurt)
~candy thermometer
~sink half-full of cold water
~1 1/2 L wide-mouth mason jar
~oven pre-heated to 150F, with oven light on

Make sure all pieces of equipment are VERY clean, with no soap residue.

Add milk to saucepan and on low-med heat, bring temperature up slowly to 180F. You don't need to stir. Watch the temperature carefully, you don't want it to get too hot. I chose this temperature as it supposedly provides a thicker consistency.

Remove from heat and place pot into sink filled with cold water and whisk as the temperature drops to 110-115F. Make sure you keep the thermometer in the milk, and watch carefully, as this happens fairly quickly.

Add the yogurt starter in and whisk until smooth.

Remove from the water and pour the milk/starter mixture into your clean 1.5 L jar and place into the oven.

Turn the oven OFF but leave the oven light on - this will maintain the inside temperature at 100F, which is optimal for developing the yogurt.

Now wait. 4-10 hours is average. Do NOT open the door before 4 hours is up.

Some time after 4 hours (I waited almost 6), carefully open the oven door and look at the yogurt. If it is creamy and thickened (yes, you can use a clean spoon), then it's ready and you can take it out, cover it, and place it into the fridge. If it's NOT, you will have to bring the oven heat up a bit (just turn your oven back on up to the lowest temp it'll go, usually 150F) for a minute or to, then turn it off again and leave the door shut! Leave it for another couple hours.

I ended up leaving mine in for closer to 8 hours. It looked a little runny straight out of the oven, but not too bad. I haven't tasted it yet, as it was still warm - I am about to give it a taste test in a few minutes. If it is still runny after cooling, I will strain a bit of the whey (the liquid) and reserve it for fermenting purposes and for soaking grains, seeds, and nuts before eating.

Remember to keep a little of your first batch aside as starter for next time, OR keep using your store-bought yogurt.

You can add in sweetener like maple syrup or honey, plus jam, fruit, vanilla, anything you like.

***for those people who think it's stupid to drink real milk, that it's unsafe - think about this: it's legal in 28 states to sell raw milk for human consumption. Add in the states where it's legally sold for animal consumption, then you have 33 out of the 50 states where it's absolutely legal. Plus all the states where people get around the law by buying "cow shares"-if you own a cow, you can drink it's milk - and you have a LOT of people drinking raw milk. Plus all the farmers' families, people from other countries, and Canada. That's a LOT of people drinking raw milk, and you don't hear about mass deaths.

People have been drinking raw milk for thousands of years. It's unsafe farming practices (overcrowding, hormone treatments, and misuse of antibiotics), like industrial milk farming that create milk that needs to be pasteurized.

For other ideas on how to eat properly and well, with Real Food, check out Fight Back Fridays, over on Food Renegade.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story! So glad you shared it with us. :)

(AKA FoodRenegade)

Berry said...

Thanks,Kristen - and thanks for the inspiration!

sweet said...

Before we moved, we used to get fresh goat milk from a neighbour. I'm ot a milk drinker, but I did really like the goat milk. Very tasty. Keep your cow source a secret though, otherwise the milk police might come after you.

Berry said...

Yeah, re milk source: I own part of a cow, so it's MY milk.

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