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Garth Brown |

I bartered a big bag of vegetables for 5 gallons of milk last week. I have a minor dairy intolerance, but it seems worth it to me to live with the consequences (stuffy sinues and acne) of indulging in some dairy since many other foods are unattainable with the current rules of the road around here.

The farmers I got the milk from have an Ayrshire influenced herd. Ayrshires are known for the small size of the fat globules in their milk, which makes it slow to cream off. In fact, I let it sit over night in a bucket and there was barely a skim of cream on top, and it was not low-fat by any means. The richness was palpable on the tongue. Ayrshire milk properties are just closer to goat milk than other cattle - i.e. naturally almost homogenized.

Garth used a store bought starter culture to do a batch of yogurt and then I used a small dollop of his final product to kick off my share. First I gently raised the milk temperature to 180 degees F. At that heat, the proteins denature and the resulting yogurt is thicker. It's possible to make raw milk yogurt, but in my humble opinion it is not advisable. The incubation temperature for yogurt is in the range that some pathogenic bacteria can thrive in. If there are pathogens in the starting milk they can multiply many orders of magnitude by the time the culture finishes. Heating to 180 degrees is hotter than pasturization, so all the bacteria in the milk are killed. I then cooled the milk in a sink full of cold water and pitched the starter at about 100 degrees, stirred it in, and then incubated through the night.

The final yogurt was nice and thick, but I like it even thicker so I strained it. It is easily the best greek yogurt I've ever had. I can barely believe the thickness. If I can get it a little more liquid off it will have the texture of soft cheesecake filling.

I've eaten it in a number of different meals. I particularly liked the one pictured above - oat muffins, yogurt, elderberry sauce. It lacked a bit of sweetness because I'm currently out of maple syrup... maybe next time.


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