Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Making A2 Goat Milk Yogurt
I have switched to pasteurized goat milk (when I can find it) for my homemade yogurt because all goat milk is A2 milk, and doesn't give me the digestive problems of A1 milk yogurt.
I incubate my yogurt in my Excalibur Dehydrator because it's easy to control the temperature. I also incubate my yogurt at a lower temperature than most, and for longer. Another difference is that I use NO powdered/dry milk in any yogurt I make. (Most of it is from China anyway.)
I thought I'd show the steps I use, in case someone is leery of making yogurt, or using goat milk for yogurt. Let me first say it is delicious, and has a slight tang. If you've ever eaten fresh Chevré, you know the tang!
Making yogurt is actually very easy; you just need milk and a starter culture full of active bacteria. Many off-the-shelf supermarket yogurts are 'cultured' in the container after it is sealed, and contain few (if any) live cultures. Look for yogurt for a starter that states it contains live cultures of Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, and/or Lactobacillus acidophilus (which is optional but not found in traditional yogurts).
The lovely Greek yogurt I use has L. bulgaricus, and S. thermophilus but no L. acidophilus. I have read not to use any cultures containing any strain of Bifidus because it can overpower other bacteria in the all-important gut. I strongly suggest an unflavored, unsweetened yogurt as the culture; it doesn't matter if it is low-fat. I only make full fat yogurt, and I like to think a full-fat (whole milk) yogurt for a culture is best even though I have had success with non-fat Greek yogurt as a starter culture.
I sterilize some half-pint canning jars and lids, and all my utensils and let them cool before I begin. I keep the yogurt starter culture unopened until I am ready to add it, as there are live microbes unseen in the air and even on our skin.
Heat the milk slowly to prevent scorching. I heat to at least over 165ºF and no more than 185ºF. Do NOT boil!
Below: The heated milk is chilling, down to just about 110ºF. If the milk is too warm when the culture is added, it will kill the good bacteria in the culture. My tap water is cold enough that I don't need ice in the bath.
Below: I have added the culture to about a cup or two of heated and cooled goat milk. I do this so I can use a whisk to be sure I have evenly distributed the thick Greek yogurt used for the culture. I failed to do this once, and had lumpy yogurt!
Below: my half gallon of goat milk, plus the container of Greek yogurt used for the culture, made 9 half-pints.
Below are the filled 8 oz. canning jars in the Excalibur, ready to incubate. The jars sometimes seal (like in canning) but that is not a necessity since yogurt must be refrigerated after it has thickened. I heat the unit for half an hour or more, checking temperature. I prefer about 110ºF - 115ºF, and a 12 hour (or more) incubation. If temperatures are too low, it won't thicken; temps too high and you will kill the microbes.
One further step is not shown here, and that is straining through cheesecloth after 24 hours. Goat milk yogurt tends to be slightly thinner than cow milk yogurt and I like a thicker yogurt, usually. I find by straining a bit of the liquid off, I can accomplish three things.
One is that I get a thicker yogurt. The second is if I strain some of it even longer, I can produce a lovely spreadable fresh goat cheese. And lastly, the strained-off whey mixed with 9 parts water makes a nourishing 'treat' for the microbes in the soil around my vegetable plants!