I have been meaning to post about my yogurt adventures for weeks now. I apologize!
Cultures For Health was so kind as to send my two yogurt samples, a Viili and a Matsoni. I was so excited to make raw milk yogurt that would be thick! The instructions tell you to start by making a "pure" starter, which requires pasteurizing some milk. This is required so that you do not have the naturally occurring, healthy bacteria in the milk competing with the culture for the yogurt.
So, I brought a cup of milk to 160 degrees
Then let it cool to room temp and separated it into two jars, labeled of course.
Then I mixed in the cultures and topped the jars with a paper towel (my cheesecloth was being used elsewhere).
Then I placed them in the oven with my oven light left on. They are far apart to avoid cross-contamination (though truly, I don't know if this is still too close since it is an enclosed space). I also traded their positions about half way through so that they would get the same heat (the top left being closest to the light).
After a day or so (I think it was 18 hours), they looked nice and thick with nothing running up the sides when turned. Oh I was excited.
Then, as per instructed, I let the cultures finish culturing with lids in the refrigerator for 6 more hours. Then I added the prescribed amount of starter to plain old cold raw milk from the refrigerator, and covered the jars in the same way, and placed them in the oven in the same way as the starter cultures with the oven light on. After 12 hours or so (it was left overnight), I had jars that looked like this:
Notice the separation at the bottom of the jar? I wasn't sure if this was okay. I used some cheesecloth to drain it a bit, and hoped for the best, but it was not thick like I had hoped. It sufficed for soaking oats for porridge.
I presumed that the oven light made it too hot for the cultures. So I used the rest of my starters to try again. This time leaving the oven light off.
(Now, I should mention, the instructions say that you can leave these on the counter in a warm room. However, there really are no warm rooms in my house if the weather is cold, as similarly, there are no cool rooms in my house if the weather is warm. Further, the kitchen is actually the draftiest place in our house. So, that is why I keep using my oven as an insulated space. Perhaps your house is warmer and you can just put them on top of your refrigerator.)
Well, this time I left the jars for 18 hours, and even closer to 24, and it looked like nothing happened at all. Just milk. Not a hint of thickness nor of separation. Ug. It happened over a couple cold days here, and perhaps it was just too cold to grow the cultures?
I really do believe making yogurt at home is simple and easy. I used to do it in our old house (though not raw). This house seems against me. I have trouble with my sourdough here as well. I do have high hopes that the summer will make things easier on me. Further, I am in the middle of attempt three at counter top yogurt. Wish me luck! I will update you as soon as I can.
If you have any tips, or if you have taken any of the dairy challenges this month, please share!