Here's Day 17 from Nourished Kitchen.
We're continuing this week's discussion of naturally probiotic, fermented foods and their value to your health today by touching on yogurts and cultured dairy foods.
Cultured dairy foods, like all traditional foods, enjoy a long history, but it might surprise to learn that the number of cultured dairy foods far exceeds the yogurt and kefir you find in the dairy section of your supermarket. Moreover, cultured dairy foods are easy to prepare in your own kitchen.
Culturing dairy products like milk and cream helps to optimize nutrient density, indeed, not only are cultured dairy foods rich sources of food enzymes and beneficial bacteria, but they're also quite rich in B vitamins. Indeed, the longer you allow kefir, a cultured dairy food, to ferment the richer a source of folate it becomes.
Cultured dairy foods, like yogurt, can be easily divided into two categories: mesophilic or thermophilic. Mesophilic starters will culture at room temperature. An example of a mesophilic cultured dairy product is kefir - to prepare it you simply mix fresh milk with milk kefir grains (see sources) and allow it to sit at room temperature while the beneficial strains of bacteria do their work, eating up the naturally present milk sugars and converting them to lactic acid which accounts for the tangy flavor of kefir and other cultured dairy foods. Thermophilic starters will culture milk products in a slightly warm environment, the yogurt you find on super market shelves is a good example of this technique. Different bacteria strains require different environments.
Mesophilic: Mesophilic yogurts culture best at room temperature, and, for this reason, they require no expensive equipment or temperature monitoring. If you are short on time, or are looking for an easy way to prepare natural yogurts and cultured dairy products in your home, a mesophilic starter will be your best bet. Examples of mesophilic cultured dairy foods include kefir which originates in the Caucasus as well as piima, fil mjolk and viili which are room temperature yogurts of Scandinavian origin, each of which offer their own, unique characteristics. Bonny clabber, which is also a wild ferment in that it relies on the beneficial bacteria inherently found in raw milk rather than a starter culture, is also a mesophilic cultured dairy food.
To prepare a room temperature, or mesophilic yogurt, simply combine about two tablespoons of starter to one quart fresh milk or cream in a glass jar, and allow it to sit, covered, at room temperature for 1 to 3 days, or until the yogurt cleanly separates from the glass jar when tilted. Refrigerate and serve.
You can purchase room temperature yogurts online (see sources) or see if there's anything posted on the cultures and starters exchange.
Thermophilic: Most yogurts that you've enjoyed are likely to be thermophilic yogurts, including the yogurts you can purchase from your super market or health food store. These yogurts culture best at a temperature slightly above body temperature or around 104 degrees to 110 degrees.
To prepare thermophilic yogurt, you need to acquire a starter culture. You can purchase starter cultures online (see sources) or even head to your local supermarket and pick up a small container of plain yogurt to use as your starter. Stir two tablespoons of starter culture into 1 quart milk and pour the mixture into a yogurt maker (you can also use a slowcooker for a different method) and leave overnight or up to twelve hours. Refrigerate the yogurt after it has adequately cultured so that it will firm up a bit and solidify.
Today's assignment is to make your own homemade cultured dairy food, whether its kefir, a room temperature yogurt or classic, thermophilic yogurt.
Day #17 Check List:
Culture your own yogurt:
- Prepare either a mesophilic yogurt or a thermophilic yogurt.
- If your kitchen is well stocked with yogurt and kefir already, why not try preparing bonny clabber by taking a quart or so of fresh raw milk (no, pasteurized will NOT work) and setting it on your counter to clabber in a few days time. Traditionally, bonny clabber was served with nutmeg and, occasionally, a touch of molasses.
Interested in learning more about the role of cultured dairy foods in traditional diets?
- 10 Cultured Dairy Foods and How to Use Them
- Milk Kefir: What it Is and How to Brew It
- Homemade Yogurt
- 10 Tips for Perfect Homemade Yogurt
Love and light,