For a long time, I wanted to attend to a culinary course but have been putting it off because I didn’t want to go alone. As we all have busy lives, making it happen sadly seemed on the verge of impossible. After a few attempts on reaching an agreement it became obvious that if I were to wait for the whens, wheres and all that to come together, it will probably never happen, so I decided to go by myself.
I’ve participated in a bread & dairy workshop a few weeks back and it turned out to be so much fun! Did not even miss company because my attention was completely focused on making the food. In 3 hours, not only did we bake several delicious breads, but also prepared our own butter, yogurt, fresh cheese and yeast starter to take home with us. From scratch.
On this occasion it cleared on me how straightforward making your own dairy could be. Before seeing it for myself, I thought it’ something you can’t possibly have the proper tools and conditions at home. With my newly acquired knowledge though, I jumped straight into homemade dairy and I don’t think I’m buying these items from the store anytime soon!
TBH, I don’t drink milk. Period. Lattes and hot cocoa yes, but not plain milk. Dairy though! I love, love, love dairy. Thank God (and mom and dad and genetics) I’m not lactose intolerant, I’d be so miserable missing out on all the deliciousness. Having allergies myself, I really feel for everyone with this condition, fingers crossed we will soon have some kind of remedy.
So why should you start making your own yogurt and butter? Not because it’s cheaper, although you’d be better off (not counting the value of your labour that goes into it). And not because it’s more convenient, as lifting products off a store shelf is always easier, of course. Why do it then?
Because it makes you proud. In a word where most of us are nine-to-fivers sitting in an office all day and our jobs come down to keystrokes and clicks, sooner or later you start feeling like you need to make something tangible. To create. Art, crafts, food, or anything really, with your own hands.
I started my blog because I was at that point, and I cook and DIY for the same reason. Not that I hate my day job, it’s just that I had to look for an outlet elsewhere to channel my creative energy. Luckily, I found my passion and the everyday grind gets so much more tolerable when you have activities that relax your mind, charge you up and give you satisfaction.
But back to the matter at hand! Utensil-wise, if your kitchen is equipped with a pot, some kind of a jar, a mixing bowl and an electric mixer (or at least a whisk), you are set to go. Other useful devices could be a food thermometer, ramekins and a sieve, but those are not strictly mandatory.
For the yogurt, ingredients are milk and a cup of natural, unflavored yogurt. Skim, semi-skimmed, or whole milk will all work, both HTST and UHT. Note that the higher the fat content, the thicker, creamier and tastier your yogurt will be.
The natural yogurt will act as the starter culture, the live bacteria in it turn the milk to yogurt. Once you start making your own yogurt, you can use leftovers from each batch to culture your next. Just save the proper amount to use for this purpose. The recipe can be scaled up or down.
Homemade Natural Yogurt
1 l/34 fl oz milk
160 g/5.64 oz plain natural yogurt
- Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed pan to just below boiling (95°C/200°F) stirring occasionally to avoid sticking to the bottom.
- Wait for milk to cool to warm, around 50-60°C/120-140°F
- Stir the yogurt with the milk using a whisk until dissolved
- Transfer mixture to a jug or jar, wrap container in a heavy scarf to slow cooling process.
- Let set on the counter for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight. Avoid jostling or stirring until yogurt has fully set.
Refrigerated, yogurt keeps for about 2 weeks.
For the butter, use whipping or heavy cream (30-36% fat content). You need to churn the cream until it divides to butter and buttermilk, which can be done with a whisk or an electric mixer. Save buttermilk for later use.
400 ml/13.5 fl oz heavy whipping cream, cooled
- Pour cream in a high sided mixing bowl to avoid splashes, and start whipping.
- You will eventually reach the state of whipped cream; continue whipping.
- You’ll notice that whipped cream starts to collapse and clump up. That’s what you’re looking for, keep whipping!
- When clusters of fat collect and buttermilk has precipitated, your butter is ready: drain buttermilk with the help of cheese cloth or a sieve, and transfer butter to a ramekin or muffin tin.
- Refrigerate. When butter has cooled, you can turn it out from the mold.
This amount of cream makes approximately 125 g/4.4 oz/1 stick butter and 245 g/8.6 oz buttermilk.
Next stop for me? Definitely cheese. I’m already eyeing some courses, can’t wait!
How do you feel about making some foods for yourself instead of opting for the convenient choice? Let me know in the comments!
“Close-up of glass of milk” photo featured as title image © asierromeo / freepik