The Good Guys in our Guts
These days we are seeing more and more focus being put on maintaining our health by cultivating a healthy gut.
The more we learn about the microbiome the more we are discovering that our health is intimately linked to the health of the organisms that live on and within us. Knowing this, it follows that by taking steps to create a balanced bacterial ecosystem we are able to create a lifetime of strong health and proper immune function.
While marketers have done a great job at persuading us to buy their mass produced yogurt that’s been inoculated with a specific patented probiotic strain, this in my opinion is not the best way to go about getting our daily dose of fermented foods.
There are many issues with commercial dairy that are beyond the scope of this post, however within Canada our dairy is mostly free from certain hormones and chemicals that are used in the United States. That said, I believe it is always best to support local farmers and to do things yourself whenever possible and reasonable and making yogurt and other fermented foods definitely qualify for that.
Plus by going to a farmer that values keeping their products raw and in their natural form you are providing yourself with a more enzyme rich product which increases the benefits passed on to you and your family.
1-2 L milk of your choice, I prefer raw goat as it agrees best with me however for those who tolerate cow dairy well that is definitely an option. If you have access to sheep milk then that’s a great option too.
If you can’t find raw from a farmer then opt for organic from the store as it is the next best choice.
- A Saucepan – large enough to accommodate the volume of milk you’re using.
- Glass Jars – I use 1 L mason jars with plastic screw on lids.
- A thermometer – I like my digital cooking thermometer that I got from Canadian Tire for like $20. This isn’t entirely necessary especially if you’re not using raw milk as you can just bring it to boil and then remove it from the heat and wait until it’s lukewarm, however because I am not boiling my milk I want to ensure that I don’t go above 115 – 118 °F and start to denature the natural enzymes.
- A whisk / stirring implement – I used a dinner fork and it worked just fine however for the culinary purists out there a whisk would seem the ideal choice.
- A starter culture – I used a packaged started from Yogourmet that I had on hand however you could also use a small amount of a previous batch or a store bought variety. I like using the starter culture as you know what’s in it and it tends to be more foolproof in terms of preventing potentially pathogenic organisms from growing.
- Gelatin – This is optional however I prefer a thicker finished product than I got the first time I did this and so I used Great Lakes Gelatin to ensure it would set after cooling.
I started with 2 liters of frozen and thawed raw goat milk – not for human consumption of course (legal joke) – that I purchased from a local farmer and kept stored for when I would have the chance to make my yogurt.
I poured the milk into a pot which I had just boiled water in and used to sterilize my jars.
With the milk I added 4 TBSP of Great Lakes Gelatin. They recommend using 1 tbsp per liter so I doubled it just because I wanted some extra protein in my batch.
It ended up a little too thick for my taste if I was going to eat it on it’s own but because I throw it in my smoothies it doesn’t make a difference. If you want it creamy but not runny then try 1 TBSP per liter.
From there I used medium heat to bring the milk up to 115 °F, stirring every minute or so and watching the temperature closely as to not go too high.
After it reached temp I removed it from the heat, and poured a small amount into each of my jars and then added my starter packets and dissolved the powder.
Then I poured the rest of the milk between the two jars, covered with an airtight lid and placed on my dehydrator set to 105°F for 24 hours. You can leave it at room temp, or put it on top of your fridge or use an incubator if you’ve got one. The main difference is that the warmer it is the faster it will ferment so if you want it to be finished sooner rather than later stick it in a warm place and cover it with a towel for some added insulation.
I tasted it after 24 hours and it was nice and sour, indicating that the lactose had been pretty well used up and that my yogurt was ready.
Stick it in the fridge to stop the process and let the gelatin set and Voila!
Give yourself some props, you’ve just made a delicious, nutritious, fermented food that is full of beneficial bacteria and enzymes.
Ways To Enjoy
Enjoy it plain, with fruit or honey, or in a smoothie or sauce. The possibilities are endless!
Keep enjoying your fermented foods and your gut will thank you.