Raw Yogurt the Lazy way

31 Aug

Well, I know that some of you were looking forward to the beyond mouth watering donuts that I posted on Facebook this morning.  I even started writing the post.

Here, I’ll just share the picture.

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I know, right?!

But, as I was writing some of the nuances of the recipe, I decided that I needed to tweek it some.  It has too many changes that could be made before it is perfect.

So, my family will get donuts a couple more times this week so I can share with you.  And today, I’ll tell you the cheater way to make Raw yogurt.

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There are lots of really amazing bloggers who have gone to the trouble of figuring out the right yogurt cultures to buy and cultivate to make the creamiest and thickest yogurt.  There are some who have even shown us how to use a yogurt maker or a crockpot.

I am not one of them.

Let me tell you a little secret about me.  I have done all that too.  But guess what, I can’t keep a starter alive for more than about 3 weeks.  Believe me, I have tried.  I have had some pretty amazing starters.  Some that have traveled across the world!

And yet, they all die in my kitchen.

It is the only thing that doesn’t get enough food in my house!

So, while you, dear reader, might be much better at growing bacteria than I, if you are here, it means you would like an easier way.  THAT, I can do.

Now, you might be wondering why we should even eat raw milk yogurt.  (I am assuming that you already know all the amazing benefits of raw milk and have assessed the risks.)   That is a good question.  Yogurt is often recommended for its cultures.  It is a probiotic in that it has active bacteria strains that have been shown in studies to provide health benefits in those who can tolerate it.  Did you know that we are mostly made up of bacteria?  Yeah, it is true.  We actually need to continuously feed our bacteria more bacteria to keep our bacterial bodies happy.  It’s like a microbial party going on all the time!

So, if yogurt has all those benefits, why should we bother with raw?

Well, at least in my family, a couple of my people are lactose intolerant.  My son is also allergic to pasteurized dairy.  And to be honest, after going raw, I don’t do so well with pasteurized dairy either.  Making this yogurt at home means that we can all partake equally.  This saves me from buying different types of yogurt for each intolerance or allergy.   Saving money and time?  Um, yes thank you!

There are actually all kinds of other reasons, not the least of which is the amount of time that most companies allow (or don’t allow) their products to culture.

So here we go.

This takes all of 10 minutes of active time.  If that.

Start with a high quality organic (preferably grass fed) WHOLE MILK PLAIN store bought yogurt.  I use Straus, although I have used Nancy’s and Trader Joe’s brand and Clover.  My favorite is Straus.  It gives me the best texture most consistently.  This is your starter.  It has all the active cultures present and it doesn’t have to be kept alive.  *Ahem*

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One quart sized container of yogurt will make 7 quarts of raw yogurt.  You don’t have to make it all at once, though I do.  It keeps for about 3-4 weeks in the back of the fridge so you can make a quart at a time, do the whole shebang like I do, or find your balance somewhere in between.  For us, it is an easy lunch and smoothie filler that the kids love so 7 quarts really only last us about 2 weeks.

The rule of thumb here is 1 rounded TBSP per CUP of raw milk.  That comes out to just over 1/4 cup of yogurt to 1 quart of raw milk.

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I just put it into the quart sized mason jar by the tablespoon and then add the raw milk to the top.  It is not an exact science.  Don’t stress it.

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If you happen to have any extra raw cream hanging around, a sneaky trick is to add extra cream before you add the milk.  This makes it…yep, you guessed it, more CREAMY!  If I have some I will usually add about 2-3 tbsp of cream per jar.  If I have a ton, (hardly ever), then I will add up to 1/2 cup more per jar.  Those are the best yogurts ever.

Once they are full of milk, you just mix them with a spoon.  I recommend wooden spoons just because of the rare possibility that stirring with a metal spoon in a glass jar can break the glass.

Um…yes.  It HAS happened to me.   Thanks for the reminder.  Sigh.

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Top it with cheese cloth or a coffee filter and the jar ring.  Or if you can’t find the rings just use a rubber band around the top.  Works just as well.

These can be left on the counter, put in a warmish cupboard, or even put in your dehydrator set at 85 degrees.  Some people have put them in the oven, with just the light on to give it warmth.  The goal is to keep it kinda warm or it will take longer to culture.  On a hot summer day, this will be ready in 12-18 hours.  During the colder months it can take anywhere from 24-72 hours to completely culture.

How to know it is done:

None of my pictures would show it well enough so I will describe it carefully.

It is done when you look at the sides of the jar and can see teeny tiny little bubbles in the yogurt.  I mean tiny.  These are not big air bubbles.  Just a small indicator that the stuff is not so liquidy anymore.  Also, if you tilt the jar, the yogurt will come away from the inner side of the jar in a thicker texture, usually leaving the jar without a film.

If you let it go too long and the whey begins to separate, you have a couple of choices.

You can mix it back in.  Usually that works fine.

OR you can use a cheesecloth, at least a few layers thick, pour the yogurt into the cloth, tie it closed and hang it over a bowl overnight.  You will then have a very thick yogurt, or a nice creamy cream cheese.  Plus, you have a cultured whey which can then be used for feeding chickens, preserving fermented foods, adding to salsa to extend the life, or just using in smoothies.

The finished product is usually the consistency of the starter yogurt.  Sometimes it is thicker, sometimes more runny.

My kidlets eat this stuff just about everyday with some frozen berries or fresh fruit and a tiny bit of maple syrup, (unless I am not looking; then the maple syrup mysteriously evaporates very rapidly).  The frozen stuff is great for the runnier yogurt.  Thickens it right up!

We also use it for baking, smoothies, and once I even made it into frozen yogurt.  That was yummy too!

Let me know how it works for you!

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