Raw Milk Yogurt Recipe
Makes about 1 quart
Raw milk yogurt retains all of the vitamins, fatty acids and enzymes of properly produced raw milk, along with the probiotics and tart, familiar taste of the yogurt culture. The microorganisms that create yogurt are thermophillic (warmth-loving), and thrive between 95 and 100 degrees F. At lower temperatures they become inactive, but above 100 degrees F they begin to die-off.
Isn’t it remarkable that these microorganisms thrive precisely at human body temperature? It’s another reminder that the microbiotic cultures we love and cherish (i.e. yogurt, cheese, kombucha, and sourdough bread) spring from the many expressions of human culture. These treasured microbiotic cultures are impossible without people to care for them, and as we learn more about the importance of “good bacteria” we are learning that we are, in-fact, equally as impossible without them!
4 cups whole raw cow’s milk (see cooks note)
4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons plain yogurt with live cultures
Place six, half-pint mason jars on a kitchen towel. If you are using metal lids, then cut six pieces of waxed paper just large enough to cover the top of the mason jars (the paper will protect the metal from corrosion caused by the acidic yogurt). Position a wide-mouth canning funnel over one of the jars.
Pour the milk into a double boiler. Place over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk reaches 100 degrees F. Remove from the heat. Add the yogurt to a large mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Begin adding the warm milk, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, whisking until fully incorporated after each addition. When about half of the liquid has been added, the remaining liquid can be added ½ cup at a time. Whisk well after each addition.
Pour or ladle the yogurt mixture into the jars using the canning funnel. Leave about 1/2-inch of headspace in each jar. Place the optional waxed paper under the lid. Cap the jars tightly. Place them in a 95 – 100 degrees F place (see cooks note). After 8-12 hours the yogurt will thicken slightly and begin to cling to the sides of the jar. Raw milk yogurt will be thinner than commercially produced yogurt when warm and will thicken considerably once refrigerated. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. Raw milk yogurt contains the natural bacteria of raw cow’s milk and has a considerably shorter shelf life than yogurt made from boiled milk. Yogurt should taste pleasantly tart and the taste will be stable for up to one week.
Only consume properly produced raw dairy products. Raw milk should only be used if it comes from healthy animals that live on grass-based farms and are managed by knowledgeable and conscientious farmers. For more information on sourcing high-quality milk in your state visit The Campaign for Real Milk a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation. See this article “How to Buy Safe Raw Milk” from Champoeg Creamery. Check out the fabulous Kookoolan Farms Dairy in Yamhill, Oregon – a fantastic example of a raw dairy farm with an extensive website.
While there are many appliances created specifically for making yogurt, there are also many creative ways to create a 95-100 degree F environment for 8-12 hours. I own my dream dehydrator, an Excalibur with adjustable temperature, and use it to my yogurt. I know, it’s still an appliance, but I use it for so much more than yogurt! If a dehydrator is outside of your purveiw, a standard sized cooler can easily be arranged to make yogurt. You will need 2 bath towels, a hot water bottle filled with hot tap water, and a standard sized cooler. Line the cooler with one of the bath towels. Add the tightly capped jars filled with the yogurt mixture. Cover the jars with the other towel. Add the hot water bottle. Close the cooler tightly. Don’t open it again for 8-12 hours. Your yogurt will be cool – but fully fermented – when you open the lid. Remember that it will be slightly runny until it is fully chilled by the refrigerator, and will always be thinner than commercially produced yogurts.