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Yogurt Woes

I just finished working another set of 12 hour days.  Hopefully this is the end of them as that kind of schedule is both exhausting and leaves me no time to do anything else.  When I finally have a day to myself, I spend hours trying to get the dogs peeled off the ceiling (they really need to run hard every day or become quite wild) and trying to get on top of my personal life.

Today, in addition to exercising and training the dogs, I worked on using up the food I have in the fridge as I am leaving town for a week tomorrow.  I had a slight mix-up of communication a couple of days ago and thought we weren’t getting milk, so I bought 4 liters only to come home and find 4 liters waiting for me.  I decided to turn half of it into yogurt that should keep for a couple of weeks.

I have been having trouble with my yogurt lately. I used to heat the milk up to around 150F, let it cool and then add my starter.  My roommate told me that I only need to heat it to around 110F.  I started doing this but I think this doesn’t fully kill all the bacteria that is found in raw milk.  After several generations of culture in raw milk, my yogurt started to become more literally curds and whey than what I typically think of as yogurt.  Last week it got so extreme that I ended up with a jar thin watery substance with a big blob of sour, rubbery white stuff floating in the middle.  Definitely not my idea of yogurt!

I fed that last batch to the dogs and bought some fresh yogurt (for the first time since Christmas!) to start again.  I decided I would pasteurize the raw milk much more thoroughly when making yogurt, to see if that would keep my culture pure.  I figure that it will still be health if I reintroduce bacteria, although it will be a different type than what comes originally with the milk.  I keep plenty of raw milk raw, so I still will get the benefits from it when I drink it.

Tonight I tried making three liters of yogurt at once.  As my yogurt maker only can make one litre at a time, I tried my roommate’s method.  This involves putting the yogurt in a large pan of hot water, wrapping the pan in a towel (to insulate) and putting the whole thing in the oven.  I left it there for nearly 8 hours, but what I pulled out was… still milk.

I put more starter in each jar, put one in my little electric yogurt maker and the other two back in the pot with fresh hot water.  Hopefully I will have yogurt by morning!


4 Responses

  1. I’m so interested in the fact that you’re drinking (and can even get !) raw milk. The government is so paranoid about clamping down on farmers who are selling it. How does that work in Elgin county?

    • Hi Pam,
      It is illegal anywhere in Ontario to sell raw milk. There are ways around this law, such as paying for a share in a cow so that you actually own the cow (or part of it ) and thus are not buying milk, just paying for a cow. Silly, I know! Even that is dodgy right now with the current ridiculous law suit against Michael Schimdt (for more info, read here: http://hartkeisonline.com/2009/08/26/michael-schmidt-a-modern-hero/). I just don’t get why raw milk is illegal when we can buy ciagarettes no problem. It’s highly political, and quite ridiculous if you ask me. One of these days I’m going to do more research into the politics of milk and will be sure to write about it!!

      Perhaps the best way to get raw milk, if you don’t have a cow or goat yourself, is to become friends with a farmer who has extra milk and doesn’t mind you taking some to feed to your dogs in exchange for helping with some farm chores or whatnot. 🙂

  2. Oooh, I’m jealous of the raw milk.

    Also, I’m sure you’ve seen that Slate piece from a few months ago about making pantry staples, but it includes a machine-free yogurt-making method that I can vouch for as being quite, quite delicious: http://www.slate.com/id/2216611/pagenum/all/

    • Hi! No, I have not seen that piece, nor was I aware of this website. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention and for sharing with other readers. I’m looking forward to exploring Slate, and also your blog! You appear to be on quite the adventure and reading about it I’m sure will be interesting. I hope you enjoy Boston – I lived there for two years and loved it. Cheers!

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