Grocery shopping when you are allergic and food intolerant can be rather difficult. The frozen food section is full of enticing pre-made meal offerings, most of which contain ooey, gooey, delicious cheese. The produce section contains dangerous items like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, none of which I can eat. The canned food aisle is full of beans. Nuts are everywhere and in everything!
I wander over to the dairy section to grab my lactose-free milk to make some homemade farmer’s cheese (yum!) and glance longingly at the yogurt section. I see a sign. “Lactose-Free Yogurt” it says! My heart leaps, then sinks slowly to my feet as I realize that it is made from soy milk, or almond milk, or cashew milk. Still nothing for me. I decided to search the internet for assistance. Surely there are recipes for lactose-free yogurt out there. What I found out is that there are lots of recipes for homemade yogurt, most of which require the use of…yogurt. Sigh. With a lot more searching, I finally found a recipe for lactose-free yogurt that used nut milk and a culture that could be purchased online. I decided to try an experiment with my lactose-free milk (thank you, Lactaid!) and this recipe and see what I ended up with. I ordered some Bulgarian yogurt cultures from Amazon and gave it a shot. Neither of these companies pay me to advertise for them…I just have good results from using them.
I heated up the milk with my sou-vide machine (my new favorite kitchen tool) to 180 degrees F and held it there for 30 minutes.
I then cooled it to 110 degrees F in an ice bath in the sink.
I added the cultures and poured it into a jar. Since I wasn’t sure what part lactose (the milk sugar I cannot digest) plays in the development of yogurt-y goodness, I added a tablespoon of honey (from my sister’s bees) just in case sugar was a necessary component.
I put the jar back into the sou vide bath with the timer set for 24 hours at 110 degrees F. I knew I wouldn’t need that long but wanted to over estimate just in case. It only took 6 hours.
The instructions that came with the yogurt cultures said to check after 5 hours. I stuck a spoon into the jar at hour 6 and a glistening spoonful of whey appeared atop a creamy concoction that looked an awful lot like yogurt!
The jar came out of the water bath and into the refrigerator it went. A couple of hours later, I opened the jar and took a taste. Sweet, tangy, creamy and delicious yogurt!
Since I like Greek yogurt better than regular yogurt I had to strain the initial supply into a thicker form. Coffee filters work really well for this, but I had to strain it in small batches of two cups at a time.
I ended up with a little over two pints of creamy Greek yogurt from two quarts of milk.
I kept out six tablespoons of the original yogurt to make another batch.
I have never liked plain yogurt before but this stuff is delightful. I have mixed it with a cut up peach, sprinkled it with granola, eaten it plain, and mixed it with cherry jam so far. I think I can see tzatziki in my future!
According to what I’ve read, I can make more yogurt from this yogurt. I do feel a sense of obligation to those six little tablespoons of starter yogurt that I set aside. I don’t know how long the cultures will live in my refrigerator and how soon I have to make more yogurt. But so far, I am happy with the stuff I have and have found myself turning to yogurt with fruit as a tasty snack. I’ve already eaten most of the original batch and will make more this weekend. Experiment successful!