Raw milk yogurt is a sort of holy grail for traditional foods enthusiasts, coupling the enzymatic and probiotic components of both fresh milk and fermentation in one glorious, creamy, lovely food. Served over baked oatmeal or soaked oatmeal porridge, on its own or as a basis for savory dipping sauces, a good yogurt can find its way to nearly every meal if you let it.
Raw milk yogurt, thanks to the effects of food enzymes, has a tendency to be a touch runnier than the stuff you find in grocery stores or what you might make in your own kitchen from boiled or pasteurized milk. For this reason some of the very best raw yogurt is prepared using a combination of fresh cream and fresh milk rather than milk exclusively. If you follow the fermentation process with straining, as you would for labneh, the resulting product would be even thicker and creamier and you could, in turn, use the accompanying whey in properly preparing grains and flours through soaking or even as an addition to your morning smoothie.
In preparing a classic, or thermophilic, yogurt at home with raw milk, you do need to heat the milk slightly and culture it in a warmed environment. We heat the milk only to 110° Fahrenheit (about 43° Celsius) which keeps food enzymes and naturally occurring beneficial bacteria intact and thriving. Other cultured dairy foods ferment at room temperature and can also be made with raw milk. I also recommend culturing with Bulgarian or Greek starters which are available online (see sources) and which produce a rich, tangy and super creamy product.
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- 1 quart fresh milk, (for a thicker product substitute 1 pint fresh cream and 1 pint fresh milk)
- 2 tbsp Bulgarian or Greek starter OR
- 2 tbsp yogurt from a previous batch OR
- 2 tbsp plain, unsweetened, additive-free yogurt with live active cultures found at any grocery store
- Heat milk in a saucepan over a medium-low flame until it reaches about 110° Fahrenheit / 43º Celsius.
- Remove from heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons thermophilic starter culture such as Bulgarian or Greek starter (see sources), or use two tablespoons yogurt from a previous batch to inoculate the raw milk.
- If you’re using a yogurt maker, simply pour the mixture of fresh milk and starter into the yogurt maker and culture it according to the manufacturer’s instructions for about eight to twelve hours.
- If you’re using a food dehydrator or slow cooker, first pour the mixture of starter and raw milk into a 1-quart glass mason jar and cover it with a lid.
- If you’re using a slow cooker or cooler, place the mason jar full of milk and starter in the center of your slow cooker or cooler and pour warm water (approximately 110° Fahrenheit, 43º Celsius) into your the ceramic insert or until it reaches just below the lid of your mason jar. Cover with a warm towel for added insulation and leave in a warm spot in your kitchen to culture for eight to twelve hours.
- If you’re using a food dehydrator, simply place the mason jar full of starter culture and milk into the food dehydrator, set the temperature to 110° Fahrenheit / 43º Celsius and allow it to culture for eight to twelve hours.
- Once the culturing period of eight to twelve hours is complete, remove your still warm raw milk yogurt from the yogurt maker, slow cooker, cooler or dehydrator and place it in the refrigerator to chill and solidify for an hour or two.
- Serve plain as a sauce, combined with fresh fruit or nuts or sweeten it, if desired, with a touch of honey or maple syrup.