You read about my adventures getting a Viili starter earlier this month… so how did that turn out, anyway?
Well, as I am prone to do, I thought I would outsmart the way everyone has always made Viili and instead follow the method I’ve been using to make regular yogurt. (Meaning, I’d boil the milk to 185, chill it to 110, introduce the Viili starter, and put it on the counter wrapped in a heating pad for 7 hours).
I wouldn’t say that experiment was a complete failure, but it didn’t result in the texture our expert tester- Neighbor Dave- remembered from the days of his youth. He suggested I follow the instruction I had received from sweet Miss Connie in Ontonagon:
“Add milk to the starter and let it sit on the counter overnight.”
So I did that, with a new batch of milk and using my failed batch as the starter.
Dave tasted again and asked why I didn’t let it sit on the counter all night. I DID! I said exasperated. (why would he question if I followed directions or not? Maybe because I don’t, normally.)
I left it out again a second night. The photo above is how it looks today.
Dave hasn’t yet tried it, but I’m not sure it’s quite there yet. Some sites say that you have to go through at least three cycles to get to the right consistency, so maybe the next time is the charm.
I have to say, it is sour (like the Finns disparagingly said on the Jan Tucker show- while they questioned whether or not Finns ever have any fun because look at what they choose to eat? At least they aren’t Norwegian and subject themselves to lutefisk)… but it’s not bad. It’s kind of like the creme fraiche my friend Beth brought over for me to sample the other day. Just not as smooth.
So, still need to work on the texture which means working on the technique.
And, about that regular yogurt I’ve been making… I did get a heating pad that does not have an automatic shutoff (thanks sister Molly!) and it produces great yogurt with a perfect texture, in my book. I promised Molly I’d get her a new heating pad, which I still owe her, since I have put hers in hiding and will not be giving it back.
I did choose a different yogurt starter Father, Greek Gods Organic Yogurt. It had all the bacterial cultures I wanted, and none I didn’t. Who doesn’t want a Greek God as their father?
I also found some fantastic milk to be the mother of my yogurt. After doing some research online, I decided to get Cedar Summit Farm milk which comes in a glass bottle and is from New Prague, Minnesota. (I even saw it at the Keweenaw Coop in Hancock, MI so it must be good stuff!)
Cedar Summit Farm’s milk is pasteurized… meaning it’s heated to a certain temperature, held there for a certain amount of time, and then immediately cooled…. which kills off bacteria (and, interestingly enough, is what I do again when I start making the yogurt. I think to make the milk receptive to hosting the yogurt bacteria, I kill off the bacteria in the milk to give the yogurt a “clean slate” to start from.)
But it’s not homogenized… which is a mechanical process to more equally distribute the fat in milk by using pressure. As a result, Cedar Summit Farm milk has a cream layer on the top since the fat sticks together and rises to the top. You can either shake it back into the milk, or skim it off the top (resulting in a lower fat product). — an interesting note is that some researchers believe that homogenized milk may be a contributing factor to heart disease- they hypothesize that the homogenization process of applying pressure to the fat cells in milk to more equally distribute them may make the small enough for the body to put those fat cells into circulation, whereas when milk is NOT homogenized, the fat cells are larger and the body may digest (and dispose) of them more easily. I am paraphrasing here, to learn more (if you want to know a lot of detail) visit this article.
Any-hoo, I like Cedar Summit Farms because they have an ideal mix of cow breeds for nice, thick milk, and they eat a pasture diet (and while our weather is not bad, they are out to pasture). It’s really nice milk and someday I may even try to use the cream layer at the top of the bottle to make butter.
At the end of the day, I have really enjoyed learning to make yogurt… it was my own culinary lesson in the importance of:
- the PROCESS (which seems to be more important than the tools- i.e. I did it without buying a fancy yogurt-maker)
- the PARENTS (better quality products lead to a better outcome)
- and probably PATIENCE (I didn’t do it right the first, second, or even third time… PRACTICE is important!)
If you want a yogurt breakfast, just call me… I’ve always got some good stuff on hand now!!!