Thursday, April 10, 2014

Makin' Yogurt

About 2 1/2 years ago I lucked into a milking gig. That's right, a milking gig. A friend has goats and I was completely intrigued by the idea of learning to milk the goats and turn that whole, fresh, raw milk into something wonderful for my family. So I asked my urban farmer friend if they ever needed any help/relief with milking duties. To my joy she said yes, and the visions of fresh chèvre and mozzarella started dancing through my head immediately. Not really knowing what I or they were in for I asked for a weekly milking rotation and truth be told it has really become my favorite morning of the week. Yes I have to get up a bit earlier than I otherwise would, yes I schlep myself and milking pot through the hood rain or shine, and yes I love every single minute of it. Honestly, I find that each week I linger longer and longer feeling so fortunate to be spending time with these beauties and their chicken friends. When I first started milking Maple, I'd get a solid quart each time which turned out to be the perfect amount to make a week's supply of yogurt. So I researched and tried a few methods of yogurt making until I settled on what works best in my kitchen. The method I've settled on is reliable yet a bit hodge podge. I start by heating the raw milk on my stove top to 185 degrees then immediately cooling the milk to 110 degrees. At that point I add a cup or so of plain cultured yogurt and whisk all together thoroughly. Once I've gotten rid of most of the yogurt clumps I pour this into jars and put them in an insulated cooler with a heating pad set to medium. The goal is to keep your yogurt mix at as close to 110 degrees as possible for about 8 hours. This is the method that has worked best for me as I do not have a fancy fancy yogurt maker. So each week I am able to turn out about a quart of home made yogurt which is just enough for smoothies, or a few bowls of berries and yogurt, and still having just enough for the next week's starter culture. Well, as of last week there is now another goat in milk on the farm so I am excited by the prospect of doubling my haul each week and maybe even having enough to experiment with some cheese making. We are big chèvre fans around here so I am hoping to start there. We will see, it's going to be a while before I can start milking Basil as her 2 sweet little kids deserve all her goodness for now. Soon enough they will be old enough to wean off a bit and share some of their mother's bounty with us. Now I am off to start looking for a new milking pail, my little pot isn't going to be big enough for the milk of two goats. Lehman's here I come...


Jen T-H said...

Jen, Does this method work for cow's milk, too? I was just at Trader Joe's buying yet another 3 big containers of yogurt (my family goes nuts for plain yogurt), thinking-- "couldn't I make this at home and save all that plastic?"
Thanks for any insights from the kitchen dweller!

Jen said...

I would expect that it would work perfectly fine with cow's milk too. Just use a cup of live culture cows milk yogurt rather than the goat's milk yogurt. Let me know how it goes for you. It really is so easy, the biggest challenge is finding a way of holding it close to 110 degrees for an extended period.