The very first cultured food I ever made was yogurt and I would guess a lot of us start there. It is familiar and comforting and versatile and delicious. Plus, it’s a fairly simple ferment to make. I had been making it by heating milk and waiting for it to cool before placing it in a cooler of warm water or blanketed in an oven with the pilot light switched on. So when I found out I could throw it together on the counter top without heating or keeping a steady 110 degrees, I was more than intrigued. It is called mesophilic yogurt and, besides keeping a separate culture from pasteurized milk, it can be made on the counter top using our beloved raw goat milk. I haven’t made it in a while, as milk kefir sort of stole my heart a few years back, but recently I started up the Viili Yogurt Culture. I think I had been hesitating due to the fact that I knew I had to pasteurize a little of our milk to make the starter culture. Sometimes I get these road blocks in my head when it comes to something unfamiliar or seemingly, but not factually, complicated. So one morning I decided to just go for it, with helpers in tow of course. It took all of 10-15 minutes – only two of which were really hands on.
First I took a quart of fresh goat milk and dumped half of it into a small, clean saucepan. I put it over a low heat and just walked away. I washed some dishes, supervised our young children, and checked on it periodically while giving it a little swirl. After about five minutes small bubbles were forming at the sides of the pan, a thin skin had formed on top of the milk, and bubbles were just starting to pop up towards the center of the pan. I turned the heat off and walked away for another 5-10 minutes to allow the milk to cool down. Once I could comfortably touch the milk without feeling as though it would burn me, I knew it was ready. I removed the skin carefully with a fork, poured it into a quart jar, and added the culture packet. The box of Viili Yogurt Culture came with two culture packets which put my mind at ease a bit, knowing that if I botched something somewhere there was a backup at the ready.
I just gave the milk and powdered culture a quick stir, covered it with a coffee filter and canning ring and put it up on the culturing shelf – a bit away from mysourdoughstarter and water kefir – to culture. Next time I’ll share with you how the raw goat milk yogurt turns out.