As a follow up to our discussion on raw milk, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you my method of making homemade raw milk yogurt! I have to admit that the thought of making my own yogurt was somewhat intimidating at first, but I can honestly say that it really is easy and that is it probably one of the most nourishing foods you can make! Plus, making your own yogurt is a huge cost saver!
If you missed the previous posts about why switching to raw (unpasteurized/unhomogenized) milk is such an important choice, I encourage you to read "Milk: Does it Really Do a Body Good?" and "More on Raw Milk" while you're here! :) And don't forget, to find a source for raw milk near you, visit http://www.realmilk.com/, click on the "where" link and choose your state. You will NEVER be sorry you made the switch, I promise!
First, let me tell you a little bit about why yogurt, in general, is such a super health food. The human gut contains a very carefully balanced blend of unhealthy and healthy bacteria. It is estimated that there are somewhere between 300 and 1000 different types of bacteria in the gut. The unhealthy ones are usually manifested as fungi or yeast (namely Candida). The good bacteria strengthen the immune system and help to break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats that were not previously digested. But their most important job is to keep the bad bacteria, fungi and yeast in check. The problem occurs when either the good guys are depleted or the bad guys become too numerous.
How does that happen you might ask? Probably the most common way the good bacteria are killed are by the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics do a great job of killing the bad guys when you're sick, but they also wipe out the good guys. Other things that reduce healthy gut bacteria include consuming too much sugar and processed foods, alcohol, hormonal birth control, food coloring and preservatives.
One of the most damaging yeasts that thrive when the good bacteria have been compromised is Candida. I will only touch on this briefly, but this, in itself, could be an entire blog post (and probably will be one day). Candidiasis, which is the overgrowth of this particular yeast can produce a wide array of symptoms. MANY times these symptoms are diagnosed as other disorders or even written off as being "in your head" because traditional medicine does not look to gut health as a possible cause of disease. This, in my opinion, is one of the greatest downfalls of modern medicine. As Jordan Rubin says, life and death begin in the gut. Some of these often misdiagnosed symptoms include:
- abdominal gas and bloating
- excessive fatigue
- cravings for alcohol
- rectal itching
- cravings for sweets
- inability to think clearly or concentrate
- mood swings
- sinus inflammation
- pre-menstrual syndrome
- poor memory
- persistent cough
- low sex drive
- muscle weakness
- learning difficulties
- sensitivity to fragrances and/or other chemicals
- cognitive impairment
- athlete's foot
- sore throat
- acid reflux
- chronic pain
If you or someone you know suffers from any of these symptoms or diseases, Candida may be to blame. Cutting out all sugars and starches for a time, and adding a high quality probiotic, such as Garden of Life Primal Defense, and eating yogurt and other cultured foods could help tremendously.
Yogurt is one of the richest natural sources for those friendly bacteria that we want to be in control of our digestive tract. Generally, yogurt contains about 6 different strains of probiotics that help with digestion and maintain proper balance within the digestive tract. So with all that said, let me share with you how I make my own raw milk yogurt so you and your family can start benefiting from all it has to offer.
Detailed directions come with the starter culture, but be sure to read them entirely for specific instructions if you are using raw milk. The first step is to make your "pure starter." To do this, you will heat 1/2 cup of milk to at least 160 degrees. Yes this kills some of the enzymes, but in order for the enzymes in the raw milk not to compete with the culture, you have to acclimate it first. You will only use 1 tbs. of the starter per cup of raw milk, so almost all of the actual yogurt that you eat will be raw.
After the milk is heated, let it cool to room temperature. Then pour it into a glass jar, add 1/2 tsp. of the yogurt culture, and stir well. Cover the jar with something breathable (I use a coffee filter held in place by a rubber band.). Allow it to sit, undisturbed, for about 24 hours and then place the lid on the jar and let it finish culturing in the fridge for 6 hours. Once your starter is done, you simply add 1 tbsp. of the pure starter for each cup of milk and follow the same process. No heating this time. Just add the starter to the milk, stir well, cover and let sit for 24 hours and then into the fridge for 6 hours. Make sure to save 1 tbs. from the pure starter to make another starter when you are getting low.
Just a tip: The instructions with the culture say that it is a "counter top" culture, meaning that you can leave it on the counter to culture. I tried this method and it DID NOT work for me at all. We keep it pretty cool in our home (usually around 72 degrees or cooler). This temperature was not sufficient for a good culturing environment. I now incubate my yogurt in my oven with only the pilot light on and it turns out perfect every time!
Making your own yogurt is a fairly easy way to provide your body a super nutritious food without working too hard or breaking the bank. I, of course, make mine with raw milk, but it can be done with regular milk as well. You may not reap all of the nutritional benefits raw dairy has to offer, but you will still be getting those good bacteria into your system and saving some money too! If you do try making your own yogurt, I would love to hear how it goes! I pray that this information will empower you to take another step, no matter how small, toward living in divine health!
Beloved, I pray above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers. 3 John 2
This post is linked up on Nourishing Treasures' Make Your Own Monday!