Basic Yohgurt (teched up)

Starting out in Nourishing Traditions, the dairy chapter is placed first among all the food groups eventually covered, and it’s there early on to highlight the prominent, even sacred, position that raw dairy products hold in a traditional diet (in the parts of the world where cows thrive.)  And one of the first recipes in that chapter is “Yoghurt” (pg 85.)

Yogurt is one of those foods that can be jazzed up to add flavor and nutrition to a range of other dishes.  It is rich in probiotics, the lactobacillus family, which helps balance the bacteria present throughout the digestive tract.  It’s such a useful food that I make it at least once a week.

In NT, the recipe calls for gently heating the milk to 180*, then cooling to 110*, adding culture (more on that in a minute) and then maintaining a warm, draft-free spot overnight to allow all the milk to culture properly.  All that is great, and doable, in regular kitchen double boilers and other bowls or casseroles if that’s what you have to work with. Personally, I have found that I am more apt to make a multi-stage food if I have the proper tools to make the job easy. And my Instant Pot multi-cooker is just such a tool.

Here’s how I do it, twenty years after the recipe/technique was published:

We have a dairy cow, so I am able to use fresh raw milk to make my yogurt.  I usually skim the cream (saving it, of course) so that the fat content is somewhere around a 2% fat content milk.  That part will not ever change (for me, personally). I am a committed believer in the advantages and deliciousness of raw milk.

I put a gallon or so (or up to 6 quarts) of milk into the Instant Pot fitted with a silicone seal that is dedicated to making only yogurt. (Cooking meats or savory veg in the IP will taint the seal pretty quickly with flavors and odors that you do not want transferred to your perfect plain yogurt.)

I push the Yogurt button on the keypad, then I press the Adjust button until the word “boil” shows up on the display.  I engage the lid, and walk away.  The machine will bring the milk to 180* safely with no boiling over and alert me when the heating process is finished.

When the Instant Pot dings ten chimes, I take the lid off to allow the milk to cool. There will be a skin on the milk, but I wait until the temp is much lower before I skim off the skin.  When the milk reaches between 110*-115*on an instant read thermometer, I add the culture, and this is where you have options on how to make milk into yogurt.

The original recipe called for 1/2 C of good quality commerically prepared plain yogurt per one quart of milk to innoculate the milk and introduce enough bacteria to culture the batch. So for my gallon pot’s worth of goodness, I would need a full two cups of a purchased yogurt to make my own.  I wasn’t wild about that idea, so I looked for a different way to introduce the lactobacillus.

A friend of mine who makes raw milk cheese pointed me towards this powdered culture available at www.getculture.com.  It’s mild flavored and quite delicious when cultured, and it’s more economical for me over the long run.  Additionally, I’m able to maintain the integrity of using our own milk, which comes from a completely grass-based herd, and I avoid adding commercial yogurt sourced from cows that are fed grains and soybeans, coated with chemicals (more about that in the days to come.)

I add 1/4 tsp of the powdered culture to the milk after it’s cooled, whisk in thoroughly, and then re-engage the lid.  At that point, press the Yogurt button again, and then immediately the Adjust button, which will allow you to program the culture time for anywhere from 8-24 hours. I go 24 hours to make the yogurt easily digestible for everyone in my family.

Voila! New technology for an age-old health building food.

The 20th Anniversary of the (Cook) Book that Changed My Life

That sounds pretty melodramatic, doesn’t it? I have owned at least 100 cookbooks over the years, so to single out one that stands above all others should be pretty difficult, especially when so many cookbooks are specific to a genre.

Baking books. Bread books (different from straight-up baking). Trendy Celebrity Chef books (most of these were gifted to me, let me hasten to add). Fancy big-city gourmet-food retail store books. Keto/Paleo/Whole 30 books. Vegetarian volumes. My list of cookbook titles is long and storied (some autographed personally by world-famous TV personalities), and for the most part, well-used (except for a few of the celebrity chef titles, if you know what I mean.)

However, the one “cook”book that sits open, with splatter-stained pages and multiple dog eared pages, is my treasured copy of Nourishing Traditions, by Sallon Fallon Morell and Mary Enig, Ph.D.

I place the word “cook” in quotes because this engaging and useful tome is so much more than a collection of recipes. When I first encountered it in 2005, Nourishing Traditions rocked my culinary and nutritional world in such a way that it has, 14 years later, changed completely the way I eat and the way I cook for our family, and certainly the way I’m teaching my children to eat and to cook for themselves.

My blog here is new, and it’s dedicated in 2019 to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the first edition of Nourishing Traditions. I don’t have a first edition copy (if one of you reading has one they can bear to part with, message me!) I have a second edition that I bought at a brick and mortar Barnes & Noble, and for which I paid full list price (my jacket copy says $25.00). I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the only copy in the store.

In honor and in observance of this incredible milestone (over 650,000 copies have been published in the last 20 years) I intend to prepare one recipe per day from Nourishing Traditions each day of the year and document it here on my blog. Hold me to it, won’t you? I’ll be figuring out how to add pics and then talking us both through the steps and the reasons why traditionally prepared food is light-years better than the soulless, quick meals we have settled for in the name of convenience.

Wow! My first food blog post in at least 10 years. That wasn’t so hard. Now, to start food prep.