I confess. I love dairy. Ice cream, cold, creamy milk, whipped cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, all kinds of cheeses and yogurt.
Yogurt is a great food. It’s filling and it has essential bacteria needed by your body for healthy GI system and proper digestion. It boosts health, helps and speeds healing from intestinal infections, helps prevent yeast infections, lowers cholesterol, and provides calcium and protein.
When my calves or baby goats get sick or stressed, they get…you guessed it, yogurt.
It can be subbed for sour cream, strained and used like cream cheese, used for marinating lamb, in salad dressing or just as a snack. I love it for breakfast with raw honey and granola mixed in, or even better, a tablespoon of homemade fruit jam. It even lends itself well to baking muffins and such. It can also be used as a thermophilic culture for making cheeses.
It isn’t necessary to pay a buck and a half for those little bitty cartons of yogurt, when it’s so easy and inexpensive to make your own.
All that is required is liquid milk, a bit of powdered milk, (which helps provide body), culture, a thermometer, and an incubator of sorts. Some folks use the oven light, others use a heating pad, and some even have a big enough food dehydrator to make their yogurt in. Whatever it takes to keep it at a steady 108 degrees. I have a Yogourmet Incubator because I use it a lot, and I can make a 2 qt. batch at a time.
You CAN use store bought, pasteurized milk.
I, however, prefer to procure my own milk, raw, with all the healthy vitamins, minerals and probiotics it contains. Plus, it has natural cortisone in it, which helps with my pain levels. Pasteurization is a necessary evil in most commercial dairying, due to sanitation hazards. Pasteurizing milk also kills all the beneficial bacteria as well as the vitamins. That is why vitamin D has to be added back to commercial milk, because your body cannot take up calcium without it. The difference is like fresh vegetables vs fastfood. The practice doesn’t do your milk any favors.
Having my own milk goat or cow is a privilege for which I am very grateful. It’s one of the greatest luxuries of my life, as well as one of the greatest pleasures, but I digress.
Currently, my cows are both dry and not due to calve until July. My little bummer lambs are just about old enough to be weaned, so we are finally getting a little hard earned goats milk for our OWN use.
Greek yogurt is made with sheep or goats milk, which is one reason it is so smooth. I can definitely tell the difference between my goat yogurt and cow yogurt, although both are good. Today, I have surplus milk, so I made …tadah!! YOGURT!!
Here are the steps.
I have 2 big Nubian doe goats…sisters. I call them “Scarlet and Prissy” after the ladies on Gone With the Wind. Scarlet is unflappable and greedy, and Prissy…well…Prissy is a drama queen who has panic attacks and can’t truly do anything right. She is the most insecure goat I have ever known, screaming loudly if she thinks she is alone in the milk shed, crying if someone else is getting fed first and generally just being a pain in the caboose. She had triplets her first birthing and because they caused her some discomfort, she immediately freaked out and rejected them. Hence, I had to milk her by hand twice a day. She gives a surprising amount of milk, (1 ½ gallons daily) with an unprecedented amount of cream for a goat. I just let Scarlet feed her twins, as we have enough milk from one goat for our needs, now that the lambs are older.
As with most things, there is a price for this wonderful milk. Prissy hates having her udder touched. She has tipped the milk stand over multiple times with her tantrums and gymnastics. It is necessary to lock her head in, tie her hind legs together, and chain them down to the floor. Then milking can commence. She can only lift her feet about 4 inches in this manner, and only kicks about 80 or 90 times before I am through. She rarely picks up both hind feet at the same time anymore, lifting up the milk stand and slamming it back to the ground with a bone-jarring crash, spilling milk all over me and the pups, who learned early on there might be a spill to clean up and valiantly volunteer. We have only been enjoying this routine for 5 months now.That would be a mere 300 or so milkings in this manner.
Here is where we will begin:
1. Grab a stainless steel pail and a bucket of grain, let your goat in on the milk stand, wipe her down, set yourself down and fill your pail with nice, fresh squeezed milk. Then take it to the house and strain it, just in case any hairs or pieces of hay fell in. Goats are usually cleaner than cows. Probably because they don't produce nice warm 'goo pies' that they then lay in, immersing their entire udder so you can spend an hour cleaning her up before you start to milk. You can either chill it now, or put it right in the pot.
You could also go to the store and just buy 2 quarts of milk, but for me that would be ridiculous, as it would cost me about $200 in fuel.
2. Put your 2 quarts of milk, and about 1/3 cup of powdered milk, into your pot and heat over med heat to 170 degrees. A candy thermometer is fine for this. Stir it once in awhile. I use a cheese thermometer that has an alarm on it when it reaches temperature, as I have a very short attention span and will find something else to do while the milk heats.Oh look! A squirrel!
I usually practice deep breathing to follow my fabulous daily goat milking experience. It helps take the redness out of my face and lets my hair go straight again.
Meantime, get your culture ready. You can buy culture tablets, or you can do what I do, and just buy some commercial, live culture, plain yogurt at the store. You can use Fage, Greek yogurt, or Cheap-o yogurt, just make sure it is live culture…my very favorite is Tillamook. They have excellent dairy products.
I take about ¼ cup and put it in a glass-measuring cup, then put the rest in ice cube trays and freeze it for later use. This way I don’t have to keep buying yogurt, to make yogurt. The next batch, I will save some of this batch as the culture for the next, and save the frozen cubes for when I either run out, or the culture finally weakens.
After your milk hits 170 degrees, cool it back down to 108 degrees. I place the pot in the sink and fill the sink with some cold water and keep stirring until my milk cools down, as I am very impatient, and “Oh LOOK! A butterfly!”
Once the milk is 108 degrees, I pour a little into my cup with the culture and mix it up good. This is like tempering eggs. Then pour the mix in the cup back into the big pot, stir it all up, and pour it into my big container, which I then place in the incubator for 4-6 hours. The longer it incubates the sharper it will get. Six hours seems to work fine for mine.
After the 4-6 hours are up, place the container in your refrigerator and let it cool and set up.
Next morning, you will have a nice, thick, smooth yogurt. You can dish out and flavor anyway you want. A tablespoon of homemade jam mixed in is fantastic. You can use syrup, honey, Jell-O, Vanilla, or any combination or number of things.
Welcome to REAL food! Caution though…you might get hooked!
Let’s recap, shall we?
2 qts milk
1/3 c dry powdered milk
live culture yogurt or other yogurt culture
Heat milk w/ powdered milk to 170.
Cool to 108, temper culture.
Mix culture back into milk and incubate for 4-6 hours.
Dish up and flavor as desired, or use plain.