Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Buttermilk and Yogurt and Cheese! Oh my!

I said I was going to do it and now I have. In my continuing travels into insanity, I bought Ricki Carroll's book Home Cheese Making, as was mentioned in the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Well, first I borrowed it from the library, got a feel for what all was in it and then months and months later, finally bought it. After poring over it for a couple of days I sidled up to the computer and placed my first order for cheese and other dairy making gear. It arrived on Monday and Monday night, late as usual, I made my first batch of yogurt with the Yogotherm from the Dairy Kit and it was awesome! Much better than my previous yogurt. Thicker, too. I think the insulated canister and the longer resting time helped. That 1/4 cup of powdered milk seems to be the key. You have to whisk like mad to incorporate it, but then it's just a matter of heating up the milk to 185, cooling it down to 110 (Next time I'm going to put 110 degree water in the sink and then put my pan in to cool it down. I think I cooled it down a little too fast this first time.), adding the culture and waiting 6 hours, plus cooling time. (As Elisava mentioned in the comments on my yogurt post, you can buy packets of the yogurt culture and keep them in your freezer until you want them.)

OK, so it's not as easy as making buttermilk
(Heat milk to 86 degrees, add culture, ignore for 12 hours.), but --! It's so good! Also, it means less plastic containers in my life. Besides, it's hard to dislike having 2 quarts of fresh yogurt in the fridge which pairs so well with the fresh peach jam. Together they are delicious!

Add in a blue cornmeal muffin and you've got breakfast!

Next up, determining which cheese I'm going to make first. I'm debating between fromage blanc or a really simple buttermilk cheese or cream cheese. Or maybe just some sour cream?

I'm a wild woman, I am.

- - - - -

A friend asked me, not too long ago, when looking over my bizarre collection of cookbooks (e.g. bread making, cheese making, preserving, grilling, slow cooking, complicated Cook's Illustrated cooking) why I was doing this to myself? Life is hard enough and complicated enough with the twins and the 8 year old. If I barely had enough time to keep up with the ordinary housework, why was I adding all of these extra layers of crazy homemaking on top of that? Homemade marshmallows? Really? Why?!

I thought about it for a minute and what it really boils down to is this: I don't get to go out, alone, much at all. I can't currently go back to school. I am not currently working outside the home. This is my way of keeping myself challenged, intellectually, in a way that has big positive benefits for the whole family. It keeps me sane, even though I complain about my messy house and the fact that I haven't weeded the garden for months now. I get to learn new things, muck with science-y procedures (I play with bacteria!) and then I get to eat my experiments!

How cool is that?!

Pretty darned cool, actually.

I suppose I could clean the house from 9:30 pm until 12:30 am instead, but where's the fun in that? Making 2 quarts of yogurt that we inhaled half of in the first 24 hours after it was done was time better spent, I think.

You decide.

While the yogurt is just as ephemeral as a clean house, the yogurt has way more bragging rights associated with it. As an extra bonus, you can give some to your friends.

But only if they get here before we finish it off. Better hurry!


Tracee said...

You are so very cool. Really. I have finally made the leap for going back to school( I'm scard to death!), but it took me till my boys were teenagers. I'm wondering how the hell I'm going to fit it in with everything else that I love to do, includng all the crazy homemaker stuff I'm used to ( made easier though, by the bread from AB5M~I finally did that!Yay!)It's hard to see the end of the forest from the middle of it, but eventually, you get to where the trees thin out, and you can see more of the sun. There are times that I really miss the cuddly, two year old stage, especially when mine are taller than me now. But, I have found that the best time with your kids is right now, no matter what it is. All the stuff that you do with and for your kids will pay so many untold rewards in the future. Don't forget that!

Monica said...

Homemade yogurt is just about the greatest thing in the world. I found that, when using whole milk, I didn't need the powdered milk, but it's vital for low-fat yogurt. Also, I used a small amount of store-bought yogurt for the culture, and that worked well.

Yvonne Montgomery said...

And don't forget to credit yourself for influencing your gentle readers: at my late stage in life, unrepenitently undomestic, I'm using the AB5M and making most of our bread! Thanks to you, dearie.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Tracee: Good on you for going back to school! I hope I don't have to wait until the twins are in their teens, but I'm not holding my breath. Thanks for the compliments! I am trying to keep in mind that Now is the time. You're so very right!

Monica: I'm now reculturing from the yogurt I made. According to their site, I should be able to do that ~8 times before I need to start over again. Whee! So 1 pkt = 8 batches! : )

Yvonne: I'm so glad I've influenced you in a positively bready way. : )

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