I am not Catholic. I am pissed off. I am giving up Monsanto for Lent.
This is Day 19.
…but it’s Sunday, which isn’t counted in Lent, so I’ll take a little holiday from talking about Monsanto. I’ve been experimenting with some new sources of nutrition lately, including grassfed beef liver (fail) and raw milk yogurt (win).
I talked last week about the benefits of raw dairy, primarly to dispel the government-promoted myths about the “necessity” of pasturization. Incidentally, did you know that pasturization destroys phosphatase, making calcium unavailable to the bones? Said calcium is instead deposited in muscles, joints, and blood vessels. Great.
Raw milk, on the other hand, offers not only a panoply of vitamins and minerals, but also beneficial enzymes and bacteria. Better yet, the health benefits of raw milk are multiplied by the process of lactic acid fermentation — which is why I went hunting for a source of local, grassfed, whole, raw milk in the first place. I wanted to make yogurt.
At first, the idea of intentionally leaving a quart of milk in a warm place for half a day sounded insane. And disgusting. But consider this: Beneficial bacteria trump pathological bacteria every time.
Here’s an experiment for you: Set out a pint each of raw milk and pasturized milk. Smell them after 48 hours. Which would you rather eat?
Not only is raw, fermented dairy safe, it actally confers magnified benefits including enhanced nutrient bioavailablity, reduced lactose content (the friendly bacteria eat the milk sugar during fermentation, which is why yogurt tastes sour), improved intestional health, and strengthened immune system. Read more on the subject in this excellent post by Emily Deans, M.D. No wonder fermentation has been used for thousands of years not just for preservation, but for healing.
I took my first shot at homemade yogurt last Saturday, following this recipe from Nourished Kitchen. The resulting product was tasty, flavored very much like the Greek yogurt I used to innoculate it.
However, it wasn’t particularly pretty. Unlike the thick, creamy product you buy at the grocery, my yogurt was rather runny, featuring small, white lumps floating in whey. I gathered from a bit of googling that this is common. Suggested solutions included:
Add powdered milk to the yogurt. (Eww. No thanks, for so many reasons.)
Use less starter, because the bacteria need elbow room to grow and using too much is counterproductive. (Sounds reasonable.)
Add gelatin to the yogurt. (Many reject this on textural grounds, and so did I.)
Use half milk, half cream to make yogurt. (Sounds delicious, but expensive, and raw cream is hard to find.)
Add pectin to the yogurt. (Ah. There’s a thought.)
For yesterday’s batch, I modified my technique to implement #2 and #5 above. I used 3 Tbs of live yogurt to innoculate the 1-quart batch (I didn’t measure last week, but probably used a bit more). And, I added 2 teaspoons of pectin, dissolved in a tiny bit of warm water, to the heated milk just before putting it in the jar to ferment.
This morning, I have an improved product. The flavor is milder (maybe a little too mild — I think I’ll let it ferment a couple hours longer next week) and the texture more consistent. The lumps and watery whey are gone, replaced with a still-thin, but smooth and white, perfectly respectable yogurt. (Next time, I might try adding a little more pectin to thicken it up more.)
I love how simple this is. Active time? About 20 minutes per batch. Cost? $3.99 for a half-gallon of raw milk. That’s the price of a quart of pre-fab Greek yogurt around here. Benefits? Myriad.
I should note that fermented dairy is still insulinogenic (all dairy is), so it may not be the best choice for someone whose primary goal is loss of bodyfat. In a metabolically healthy person, however, it looks like an ideal post-workout snack…which is exactly what I’ll be doing with most of mine. It’s delicious over a few berries, topped with chopped, raw almonds.
Up next? I have my eye on cultured butter ala Mark’s Daily Apple, maybe some goat cheese, and other fermented products like saurkraut and preserved lemons.
Tomorrow, though, it’s back to the Monsanto Project. Be sure to check out the coffee posts if you missed them over the weekend.