The best yogurt I ever had was in Bejing China. Yup Chinese yogurt. It wasn’t in a sealed container, it was thin, light, gloppy and very liquidy. I thought there was something wrong with it until i tasted it. WOW, a tart, fresh, full bodied flavor that contrasted with the texture. It reminded me of fresh cut grass, that popped and an unctuous texture on the tongue that left the “mouth” fresh and clean.
A visceral experience of Yogurt like I never had before.
My foodie friend, butterblogger.com says: “if there are only 2 ingredients in a dish, they better be good!” Yogurt is made from milk and bacteria cultures. That’s it. If i want the best yogurt I want the best milk. That would be local milk – close to the source, minimally processed, and not stored or transported far. Fresh milk.
Yogurt is an essential ingredient for all kinds of dips and foods, from a Mango Lassi to Tzatziki sauce.
American ‘cuisine’ is thick, heavily reduced and remarkably flavorless when compared with the cuisine of other nations. Adding ingredients that thicken and stabilize dilute the flavor, which is why so many foods have added salt and sugar substitutes. “Strained” greek yogurt is the current fad here in the states. It’s thick enough to cut with a knife. I’m not much of a fan. Especially when you find that yogurt has been adulterated with “other” things, like guar gum and carrageenan (both “all natural” ingredients). Where, as a consumer, do i find guar gum or carrageenan and what recipe calls for it? Why would I ever use it? Why would I want it in my food?
What the do the animals eat?
Cows are manufactured to eat grass and hay. Many farmers feed cows grain mixed with chicken poop (and sometimes cow poop and ground up bones from other cows). The cows are crowded together and need anti-biotics to keep from getting each other sick. Many spend their lives on anti-biotics. In order to make the cows reach maturity faster they are given Bovine Growth Hormone. Big Agriculture breeds, raises and cares for cows to maximize their milk output over a lifetime. Flavor, nutrition and happy animals have NO PLACE in the Big Agriculture formula. When it was found that cows eating bad food made from the remains of other cows led to mad cow disease, rather than test for it, big agriculture fought to remove information from labels.
In order to make the most flavorful yogurt I want the milk that my yogurt is made from to come from free ranging cows that eat grass and hay, have no BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone) and are taken out of the ‘rotation’ if they get sick and need to be put on antibiotics. This is actually a part of the DOP specification for Reggiano Parmigiano from Italy. Reggiano Parmigiano also requires the milk to get from the udder to the cooker in under 4 hours.
When i make IKnowTheCow Raw milk yogurt, i get raw (unprocessed), unhomoginized, unpasteurized milk from a permitted raw milk farm where the cows are free ranging and grass fed. I low temperature pasteurize the milk in micro batches, cool it to 109 degrees and add the cultures. Then i cook it at 109 for 16 hours. The result is incredibly flavorful, globby liquid (not thick enough to cut with a knife), just like I got in Beijing. Most Americans that have never had real yogurt might even be a afraid to try it. They might not like it because they’re not ‘used’ to it.
Several yogurts have recently appeared that are made the same way i make it. It’s not worth it to me to make what I can now buy. Lets examine the labels:
Berle Farms yogurt is made from certified organic cow milk. The milk is pasturized AS a result of the yogurt creation. 2 Ingredients, grass fed cows.
Since yogurt needs heat to ‘cook’, it needs energy to make the heat. As an interesting plus Berle Farms uses 100 percent solar energy to cook its yogurt.
National “Brands” you know:
In the Dairy section of your grocery store you’ll find a myriad of yogurts. One nationally known brand has had a wonderful TV news story about how socially conscious they are on TV. it has a BRAND, Chobani. Very successful now very large company.
See that “Natural Flavors” and “concentrate” on the label. And lookie there! Locus Bean Gum. The “gums” are used as thickeners. Everything you add DILUTES the flavor.
I leave it on the shelf