After a long hiatus, there is so much to say!
Update number 1: Yogurt Making.
Not as easy as I made it out to be. Attempts 1 and 2, one of which was regular, whole milk, the other from Milk Thistle Farms, both made with Stonyfield starters, were delicious, creamy, and WORKED!
Then comes attempts 3 and 4. Utter failures. I tried two different milks, but used my homemade yogurt as starters. Both never really gelled into the yogurt consistancy. So, attempt number 5. Realizing that the problem was probably with my starter, I switched back to Stonyfield yogurt. I used organic milk, regular pasteurization. I ended up with a thick tacky mess that looked more like glue than yogurt. This I attribute to leaving the yogurt out too long before refrigerating. It’s my only guess as to why it was such a gross disaster. For my next attempt: fresh starter, and a strict time limit on how long I keep the yogurt in the oven. I hope it works.
I’ve been meaning to make yogurt for many months, and last week, I finally conquered my fears and made some! Twice! Now that I’ve started…I’m not likely to stop because it’s so easy. It also has the added bonus of being a cheese with a nice yield, compared to ricotta, which I tend to be a little disappointed at. Also great about making yogurt is that when you’re done, you can also strain it to reach desired consistancy…from runny to thick cream cheese. And the leftover whey can be added to vegetables and beans…or used in your next batch of ricotta.
What you need:
1/2 gallon milk (I used my fancy unhomogonized milk, which yields the “cream on top” yogurt”
2-3 tbsp yogurt (I like the Stonyfield because they have such a nice mixture of 6 probiotics)
Candy Thermometer, a sauce pan to heat it in, a big baking dish, some hand towels and some jars to put your finished yogurt in!
First, you wanna heat up your milk in a sauce pan until it’s at 185-195 degrees. This is just to kill any bacteria floating around in your milk. Around this time, turn your oven on to 350 degrees.
Next, cool your milk to about 120 degrees. To speed this along, I like putting the saucepan in an ice bath..though I’m sure a fridge for a minute or two would do the trick (just make sure you’re watching the temperature!)
When the yogurt hits 120, take a few tablespoons of milk out of the pot and mix it with two tablespoons of yogurt. This is just to get the starter yogurt at a good temperature and all mixed in. Then you can add your yogurt/milk mixture to the rest of your milk and mix to spread the starter all around.
Next you pour your yogurt into your jars and place the lids on. Wrap your jars in the towels and place them in the big baking dish. Turn the oven off, and place the baking dish in said oven. What you want to do is keep the yogurt at a consistent 110 degrees for a few hours, so that the bacteria may grow and gel the yogurt. After a few hour or overnight, you can take the yogurt out and chill! Enjoy for up to two weeks.
Not too bad, right? And quite delicious! Give it it a shot!
I followed the directions from http://www.makeyourownyogurt.com/ Nice pictures too!
I tried a few different methods of keeping my yogurt warm, but the oven worked best for me. If it seems infeasible (you have roommates or a busy oven).. you can invest in a yogurt maker, which keeps all of the little jars at a consistant temperature.
Marion Nestle posted this morning about Horizon Organic Milk’s new ‘natural’ line of cheaper, conventional milk and the implications for the organic milk industry. She also mentioned, which I didn’t know, that Silk soy milk is switching from organic soybeans to ‘natural’….another blow the to the industry and for health (see post below about soy). It’s really too bad, there are enough labeling issues as it is, and throwing in another mysterious label that does not necessary signify a major improvement or difference over conventional milk does not help. Sounds like a cop-out from two brands that know they have a following from organic milk drinkers, and know they’ll retain most of the customers through the switche (remember, Starbuck’s uses silk soy milk and (if I remember correctly) have little Horizon milk juice boxes in their pastry case.)
Quite a shame.
I was planning a post based on this press release: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/wsw-dmi061709.php which states that drinking fat-free milk instead of fruit juice at breakfast leads to feeling more satiated and eating less calories at lunch time. But then I realized – why talk about what I read today, when I can talk about what I actually did today, which is making my own ricotta!
Now this sounds much fancier than it actually is….ricotta is actually one of the easiest cheeses to make. All you need is some nice good milk (we’ll talk about the best kinds later), a lemon, lime, or vinegar, salt, and a stovetop!
Super simple – just heat up your lightly salted milk, medium high heat, stirring frequently (that part, unfortunately, takes a good 20-25 minutes). When the milk starts to lightly boil, squeeze some of your vinegar, lemon or lime juice into the milk (I use about 1/4 cup acid per quart of milk), give it a stir to disperse said acid, turn off the stove and let the curds set. When the curds separate from the whey (you have big white blocks floating in greenish liquid), use a slotted spoon to spoon the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander (or a mesh sieve if you have it) and let excess whey drain off. That’s it! Simply store it in the fridge when the curds are at the desired consistency! (Let them sit longer for thicker ricotta, shorter for runnier ricotta). And let me tell you – does it taste good – I have never used vinegar but the lemon/lime impart this light citrus flavor in the cheese that is just lovely. Plus you feel super accomplished.
Now, today was a big day in my ricotta making because I used a new kind of milk (and here’s where I feel like a goody-goody). I used Milk Thistle Farm’s Whole, Organic, Hormone Free, Grass-Fed, Unhomogenized, Lighly Pasteurized, Cream-on-Top, Comes in a Glass Bottle That You Bring Back to them to Recycle!!!, Milk!. (www.milkthistlefarm.com) This stuff tastes good. They come to the Union Square Market Friday and Saturday, and you will soon understand why each bit of that long title means good things for everyone.
1. Whole milk – yes, more fat; however, this extra fat keeps you fuller longer and tastes better and creamier. The extra 30 calories probably won’t kill you, and it’ll keep you from rushing to your cabinet for more food. Plus, being while milk means that it can be
2. Unhomogenized – milk you buy at the store usually is stirred around at quite high speeds so that all of the little fat droplets are the same size as the little carbohydrate droplets, so the milk doesn’t separate (hence, cream-on-top). First off- whole fat milk is the only kind that can be unhomogenized, because you can only take the fat out of the milk by homogenizing it. Also — unhomogenized milk is supposedly better for you because it is much easier for your poor intestines to digest! And since most people have a little lactose-intolerance in them, this is definitely a good thing.
3. Organic/Hormone Free – yay! These cows are fed non-GM foods, not given any hormones to pass along to you, and are treated in a kind way! Organic is an important one for milk (http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/05/got-organic-new.html – a little bombastic, but they get the point across).
4. Grass Fed – these cows are outside! In the sun! absorbing Vitamin D! Which will get passed on to you when you eat this ricotta! (see Sally Fallon’s Traditional Diets). And – being grass fed means that they are not being fed grain and corn, so they’re getting the proper ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids, which is very important to our very off-kilter current ratios of the fatty acids.
5. Light Pasteurization – see more from Sally Fallon about the benefits of raw milk, but since it’s illegal in New York State to buy/sell raw milk, we’ll have to stick with slowly and lowly heated milk that will hopefully preserve some of those yummy enzymes.
6. Glass Bottle- yay! Not throwing out plastic, plus, if I return the bottle to them, I get a dollar back! So they can keep reusing bottles, and my milk becomes a little cheaper!
Wow, that milk actually is worth the title! Up next for this milk will be trying to make my own yogurt. Yay Probiotics!
I hope you can give this recipe (and this milk farm!) a try. It’s definitely worth the effort when you get to eat warm, freshly made cheese. (By the way – mix with chocolate chips and sweetener of choice for the most delicious cannoli cream!)