Thursday, March 7, 2013

Yogurt becomes sublime

With Meggie the goat giving abundant milk, our home is never without yogurt. Our yogurt is made without extra dried milk, stabilizers, gelatin, or other additives. Just milk and starter. It is thinner than the kind you buy, too thin to scoop out of the container. Straining if for a few hours yields thick, creamy, Greek style yogurt, plus whey to feed the animals or bake with.

Every day I cut up fruit for breakfast, spoon on yogurt, and drizzle on honey. And every day I wondered if the honey could be mixed in earlier in the process.

Most honey from the store is pasteurized, but at Several Gardens Farm honey is raw, never heated above body temperature.This allows it to keep all its delicate floral profile,but it crystallizes in our cold house. I got tired of our honey's grittiness and inability to mix well with the yogurt.  It forms sweet, sandy lumps, cloyingly perfumed. I  miss the smooth texture, though not the bland taste, of store bought honey.

So as an experiment I mixed the honey in with the milk before I made the yogurt. I also tried a batch of chocolate yogurt. I wasn't sure how it would work. Perhaps the enzymes would interfere with thickening?

Who cares. I am always up for trying something.

Recipe - honey yogurt and chocolate yogurt

Ingredients:

2 quarts milk - we use raw goat's milk
1.5 teaspoon yogurt culture, or 1/2 cup cultured yogurt
2 - 4 tablespoons honey, to taste
Chocolate syrup to taste

Directions:

Place the milk in two, one quart mason jars.


Immerse jars in water to their necks in a saucepan large enough to hold them comfortably

Heat gently until the water just boils. Turn heat to low and simmer  until milk temperature is 175

Remove pan from heat. Let cool naturally till milk is 120

For Pete's sake, don't put jars of hot milk into ice water to cool them faster. It will cause them to crack

Yogurt after draining
Stir the honey into one jar - it should taste sweet but not cloying

Stir the chocolate into the other jar - it will taste like hot cocoa

Stir 3/4 t yogurt culture into a a few tablespoons of the milk from one jar. Once it is mixed, stir it into the whole jar.

Repeat with the other jar.

Place lids on jars

Return the jars to the pot with the water. Put the pot containing the jars into a warm oven

My oven's minimum recorded temperature is 150. I have found if you set it between there and zero it will maintain a warm incubation overnight

Leave the milk for 8 hours, at which time it will have thickened into yogurt.

Refrigerate until cold.
The ducks loved this whey

Line a sieve with a double layer of butter muslin, or with a large coffee filter.

Place a bowl underneath to catch the whey, and pour in the yogurt.

Check it every hour, and when it reaches the texture you want, spoon it into a storage container and refrigerate until serving time.

The whey can be used for baking or fed to livestock. This whey could probably serve as a sweetener for lemonade.





Taste Results

Honey yogurt

This is the best yogurt I've ever eaten. It tasted like the angel wings of baby kittens. It tasted like the Moonlight Sonata.


David said it was better than fancy schmancy yogurt from the store.


 Noah exclaimed that it was "fruity... ambrosial... I can taste how good the milk was. I love our goats!"





I could detect flavor notes from the flowers our bees had visited and the grassy orchard where the goats had browsed. It made me think I was outdoors feeling the warm breeze on my skin.

It tasted like a promise fulfilled. Yeah, it was milk and honey like the Good Book makes you think it will taste.

I will be making more soon. Maybe right now.

Chocolate yogurt

Sour and chocolate just don't belong together, especially when they are also sweet. This tasted fermented and abrasive and just nasty. Also, the cocoa solids sank during the yogurt culturing process leaving a pale brown yogurt with dark crud in it.

It looked exactly like something you find in a diaper. In a rare fit of good taste, I chose not to post my only photo of it.

The whey was sour, and looked like old coffee. I was not pleased with this yogurt. It almost made me not want chocolate for a few minutes!

It was that bad.

I will try making it again because I'm not easily deterred. I think the idea is good, I just missed something in the execution. I used the first soluble chocolate product that came to hand. This was a cheap and not very good chocolate syrup. Next time I will use honey and cocoa with a good dose of vanilla.

What I learned

You can make yogurt with flavored milk and get good results. The flavor will carry into the yogurt, though the sourness will modify it in unpredictable ways. The culturing process is not disrupted by adding ingredients.

 

Curry yogurt

After my first success, I tried again with curry flavors. Same routine, only I tried stirring in 1 tsp of my favorite blend of curry seasonings into a quart of milk. The yogurt turned a lovely, sunshine yellow with darker golden streaks. The flavor was perfect. The rawness that bothers me in turmeric was softened by the long soak in warm milk, leaving a smooth, satiny texture and a spicy but moderated flavor. The thick, creamy texture felt so rich in my mouth!

Also it was gorgeous dolloped on top of cooked greens, much prettier than cooking the curry and yogurt in with them.



Recipe:

Ingredients:

2 bunches spinach or spinach and mustard greens, stems removed
3 T neutral oil or ghee
1 tomato, chopped
1 small hot pepper or to taste, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, cut into strips (optional)
1/4 onion, chopped
salt and cumin to taste
6 oz paneer cheese or halloumi (less conventional but good), cubed into 3/4" dice
Flour for dredging
Curry yogurt from 1 quart of milk

Directions:

Pat cheese dry with paper towels or lint-free napkin
Lightly coat cheese surfaces with flour
Heat 2 T of the oil or ghee in a pan till nearly smoking
Fry the cheese, tossing and turning it to brown without sticking
Remove to a plate and set aside
Heat 4 cups of water to boil, and briefly blanch the greens
Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.
Refresh greens with cold water, and squeeze out most of the extra moisture
Chop greens fine or pulse briefly in food processor.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan at medium. Saute onion and optional salt and cumin till onion is limp
Add chopped tomato, greens, optional sweet pepper and hot pepper.
Turn heat to low, and simmer fifteen minutes or till thick
Place greens in a bowl. Top with cheese, and serve with dollops of curry yogurt


What will I try next?

I know this yogurt flavoring technique would work for vanilla and brown sugar, maple syrup, or salted caramel. Could I make ranch dip this way? Or eggnog flavored yogurt? Coffee or Chai tea? Saffron? Maybe taco seasoned dipping yogurt? What, oh what, shall I try next?

Shared on townsend house,Foodie Fridays, wildcrafting-wednesdaysimple-lives-thursday


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