Sunday, July 11, 2010

Adventures in Old World Crafts Part 1

There is a certain satisfaction to engaging in crafts that might be considered "old world." They are the kind of crafts where you make a thing almost totally from scratch. I like making things that are commercially available but don't really meet a specific need. Too expensive, wrong style, whatever. And there is some other element I can't define, that is satisfies some elusive personal need. Sometimes it succeeds, like spinning. Sometimes not so much, like my latest foray into yogurt making.

I am not making yogurt because it's cost effective. It's not. Not even a little bit. I'm making it because my blood tests show that I have a significant sensitivity to everything cow's milk-related. Yeast is also a major player, but that's not really part of today's story.Sensitivity is different from an allergy. Allergy is immediate, sensitivity is delayed, and might be characterized as a "slow response allergy." Martin Healy, an Irish naturopath and acupuncturist, has written a couple of books about this.

First off, I wasn't able to locate any non-cow's milk yogurt at any of my local stores. Soy products are temporarily off limits until the middle of August so that wasn't an option either. You see my dilemma? I even went to the Organic Food Depot and they have everything BUT that. I learned later that I didn't look hard enough.

Back to the yogurt. First I went in search of a cow's milk-free yogurt culture. Custom Probiotics had one and I shelled out my earnings for a paltry amount of culture. Big bottle, tiny amount of...looks like very fine sawdust. It dissolves in liquid so it must not be sawdust.

Experiment #1
Get the goat's milk. I didn't order the culture until I knew I had a source. My good friend and fellow enabler VaPurl belongs to a CSA and obtains fresh goat's milk on a regular basis. She obtained a sample for me, 1 quart. Perfect. Fresh goat's milk has the most delightful taste! I was genuinely surprised at how wonderful and rich it was. Anyway, into my pot goes the milk, I followed the instructions from my yogurt book to the letter, added my culture, and popped it into my yogurt maker (really a yogurt hibernator...if it were really a yogurt maker it would heat up the milk and add the culture for me, dammit). Wait four hours. Check. Not set. Wait another four hours. Check. Not set. Wait another four hours. Check. Not set, but it was decidedly think. Kefir thick. Take it out of the yogurt maker, stir it, put it in the fridge.

Result: thick, lightly tangy in a good way, goat's milk. I wouldn't call it yogurt the way we all think of yogurt. But technically I guess it was because it had all those good live cultures. Very usable, though, and I put it on cereal, fruit, and added it to my post-workout recovery drink which made THAT taste like an creamcicle. Wow! Then I ran out so it was time to contemplate how to obtain more goat's milk.

Cost of 1 quart of goat's milk (not including the cost of the yogurt maker): $55.00

Experiment #2
I figured out that I could order a case of pasteurized goat's milk from Organic Food Depot. So I ordered a case of Meyenburg Ultra-pasteurized low fat goat's milk (cut me some slack, it's what they had). I have 12 quarts of goat's milk taking up space in my fridge. We'll be making cheese, too.

So, last night here we go. Milk in the pan, add 1/3 cup of dried goat's milk (to assist in thickening),heat it, cool it, add the culture, put it into the yogurt maker, wait ten hours. I learned my lesson the first time.

Result: thick, lightly tangy goat's milk. Same as the first time. I'm beginning to think that either I'm doing something wrong or my culture ain't for shit. I checked the temperature of the resulting "yogurt" and it was within specifications, so the incubator is okay. The only variable I really can't control is the culture. Everything was spotless clean, which is a rarity in this house but I was fanatic about the pot, the utensils, the incubation container, and everything used to make this stuff.

For Experiment #3 I will try using goat's milk yogurt from Organic Food Depot. Ah. Yes. When I was picking up my order I realized that they had this huge refrigerated room in the back of the store, not just the small wall of shelves for perishables. Then I found out that they carry goat's milk yogurt as a stock item. So I'll try using some of that for the culture this time and see if that works. If it doesn't, then it's me.

Cost of the second quart of yogurt:$38.00 At least the price went down.


  1. You are on the right track, just keep going. Enjoy a nice yogurt pop for me. I may just have to help you out with all your stuff and get back to making my own with goat's milk. That way we could split. Tasting some of yours will I am sure do the trick. :)

  2. Despite the crappy line quality on my phone (gah!) I did hear what you said about the yogurt being European style. I've read about that, and wondered how close to it I was. I'm almost done with this batch and I'll be making another today. But, lo and behold, guess what I found WalMart carries? The very same goat's milk that I ordered a case of, and the price per unit is less. It just doesn't occur to me to think of WalMart for non-mainstream products, but Kent noticed it in the WM in SUMTER, SC when he was down there last week. Imagine my shock. Sumter. I have to revise my thinking. I just do not enjoy shopping at WM. It didn't stop us from spending lots of money there last night, but it wasn't fun ;p

  3. I am with you on the WM thing, but if you remember all the pics that are around on the net and are supposedly WM shoppers, then you can start your own collection. Good luck on your adventures in goat's milk yogurt, batch #3.

  4. Goat's milk #3 went just like #1 and #2, not so surprisingly. It's still tasty :)