Today we present another article in our non-fiction writing contest – by Bam Bam
I would be remiss if I wrote a series on fermentation and neglected to mention yogurt. So, last night I made my first batch of yogurt. I can tell you it is incredibly easy (and delicious). The total cost was just over $2 for a half gallon of yogurt (not counting the starter). Score!
Here’s what I did. First, I bought some plain Greek yogurt (with active cultures) as I normally do. Greek yogurt is significantly thicker than ordinary yogurt. (I didn’t include the price of the store-bought yogurt because this is something I would have purchased anyway, and I can keep using a half of a cup of the homemade yogurt as the starter for the next batch. Like kombucha and kefir, you only need to purchase the starter once.)
When I got home from the store I set out a half of a cup of the store-bought yogurt in a bowl on the counter to let it warm as I started making the homemade yogurt. Next, I poured just over half a gallon of milk into my Dutch oven and heated it on medium-high to 200 degrees. It took about 20 minutes, standing in front of the stove whisking the milk to prevent scorching. Next I cooled the milk in a water bath. (I just put the whole pot into my sink filled with ice water, and stirred it a few times to prevent a skin from forming on the top of the milk.) I did this until the temperature of the milk dropped to 120 degrees. This took about ten minutes. (This initial step is necessary to alter the structure of the milk protein.)
While the milk was cooling another five degrees (to 115 degrees), I scooped out about a cup of warm milk and mixed it with the room temperature store-bought yogurt. When the pot cooled to 115 degrees I poured the diluted yogurt-milk mixture into the pot, and whisked it well. (This step inoculates the warmed milk with the live yogurt culture.)
Next, I put the Dutch oven in a homemade warmer box. The yogurt should stay at about 110 degrees for six hours. For my warmer box, I put an electric heating pad in the bottom of a cardboard box that was just bigger than my Dutch oven. (I had to cut a hole in the box for the cord.) I turned on the heating pad, wrapped the Dutch oven in towels and set it in the cardboard box. Then I insulated it with additional towels and a pillow. (Note: If you have a cooler that is just bigger than your Dutch oven, that will work as well. Just put the Dutch oven in the cooler with several bottles of hot water.)
After six hours I removed the Dutch oven from the heating box, and set it in the refrigerator overnight. (Homemade yogurt will last 7-10 days in the refrigerator.) We just finished breakfast and the yogurt was delicious. It was full of probiotic goodness and had no added sugars. This is another product I won’t have to purchase from the grocery store, and that frees up money for other preps. My fermentation adventures have given me a sense of independence. I realize now, looking back, that my goal has been to learn to make as much stuff at home as I can.
In the last two days I’ve watched seven of the eight episodes of BBC’s Wartime Farm. This documentary is about three people who spend a year working a farm in the English countryside as if it were WW2 England. (All eight episodes are available on Youtube.com.)
Prior to the war England imported two-thirds of its food. The Germans began sinking cargo ships, which put a stranglehold on imports. So food, fuel and other necessities were rationed.
This series impacted me greatly. I came to realize that I have been seeking the confidence that if I came into a windfall of a particular type of food during times of shortage, I could preserve it without fear of waste. What would you do if food was scarce and you were suddenly handed 10 gallons of milk or 20 pounds of cabbage? Would you have the skills to process it without loosing any to spoilage?
The longer I prep the more I realize that the material goods we stock are only to get us through the first year or so. Beyond this, it’s all skill—food preservation skills, self-defense skills, hunting and trapping skills, carpentry and engineering skills, etc.
Prizes for this round (ends October 11 2015 ) in our non fiction writing contest include…
- First place winner will receive – Two Just In Case… Essential Assortment Buckets courtesy of LPC Survival a $147 value, a Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill courtesy of FoodPrepper.com a $219 value, and a gift certificate for $150 off of Rifle Ammunition courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo… Total first place prize value over $516 dollars.
- Second Place Winner will receive – A case of Sopakco Sure-Pak MRE – 12 Meals and a Lifestraw Family Unit courtesy of Camping Survival.com, and a One Month Food Pack courtesy of Augason Farms.com
- Third place winner will receive – $50 cash.