Half gallon fresh, or at least non homogenized milk
4 tbsp. Yogurt with culture or sour cream
2 tbsp. Buttermilk
1- In a pot, heat your milk to 100-110 Fahrenheit, stirring constantly. Set aside 10-20 minutes or until 95 degrees.
2- Meanwhile, whisk together Yogurt and buttermilk until combined and thinner.
3- Ladle cooled milk into culture mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly.
4-Transfer to a new container, covered and wrapped in towels, set in a warmish, dark place for 24-48 hours, depending on desired sourness flavor.
Did you know that most references we have in ancient texts to “milk” were probably referring to fermented milk. The hot climate of the Near East meant that fresh milk would be spoiled quickly unless converted into a more stable dairy product. So, when you hear about the lands of milk and honey, that’s really the lands of yogurt and honey.
Yogurt was first developed by newly lactose tolerant herders in the mountains of Central and West Asia. They stored their fresh milk in bags made from animal stomachs, which just happen to contain the bacteria cultures necessary to ferment milk. A little time in the warm climate, and the herder would have opened their milk bag to find it had curdled into possibly cheese, but more likely at first: Yogurt!
That’s because Yogurt is so simple to make. You truly just need milk, cultures, and time.
What’s that? You don’t have a sheep stomach lying about? That’s okay, neither do I. Just use a couple spoonfuls of another batch of yogurt or sour cream, homemade or store bought it fine as long as it actually says cultured on the package.
The milk is the only challenging part. You can make a thin yogurt using any old grocery store milk, but best results and thicker yogurts are from milk that has not been ultra-pasteurized. Knowing a farmer is the best way to get the optimal product for yogurt or cheese, but you really just want something that hasn’t been homogenized. Organic Valley’s Grassmilk is a decent substitute for city dwellers like me who are a bit out of touch with farmers. It’s pasteurized at a lower temperature that won’t kill off the yogurt making bacteria.
Not the most authentic of ingredients, but they never will be
Get your milk in a pot, and heat it to 100-110 fahrenheit and no hotter! Stir it frequently to even the heating and prevent scalding. You’re just warming it up, getting it to barely barely barely a simmer.
Pictured: a little too close to call. Get that milk off the heat!!
LET THE MILK COOL OFF. For 10-20 minutes, To 95 degrees is good. While this happens, get your buttermilk and yogurt/sour cream in a large bowl and whisk to completely combine and liquify.
When your milk has cooled off, start adding it a little at a time to the yogurt-buttermilk mixture, whisking constantly to keep everything nicely mixed and not broken/separated.
Now transfer it all to a new storage container, with a lid. DO NOT SKIP THIS PART. You will regret it. No matter how much you whisk, there is inevitably some sunken, unmixed yogurt on the bottom. If you don’t pour into a new vessel, you’ll get at best a thinner end product, or at worse a rotten smelling, spoiled mess.
Now wrap that baby in some towels, and put it in a warmish, dark place for 24-48 hours. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor.
And then. . .
Fermented perfection. This stuff is good for you, full of healthy gut bacteria that’s good for the digestive system and maybe even your mental health.
You can do it up in endless ways too. Whisk with a splash of milk, yogurt, or buttermilk and drink it straight like a true ancient.
The classic Greek way with honey and walnuts, probably my favorite dessert of all time if I had to name one. I like to get fancy sometimes and roast the walnuts IN honey to make a sugary crust, but just simple and raw can really hit the spot too.
Blueberries added because why not
Or make a fruit yogurt healthier and tastier than anything Dannon or Yoplait could even dream of coming up with. Just mash up some fruit and mix with yogurt. People have been eating this for millennia.
Fruit on the MFin bottom.