I like to make homemade yoghurt from the most nutritious milk available. In my opinion, that is raw milk.
Raw milk is obviously straight from an animal and free from processing which means all the awesomeness (unique bacteria, enzymes, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals) are left in, to super charge your homemade yoghurt.
Sadly, there are currently many alarmist beliefs around raw milk that scare people away from its numerous health promoting virtues. Raw milk, in itself, is a ‘complete food’ and fermented for 24 hours it’s considered a soothing healing food.
“Few people are aware that clean, raw milk from grass-fed cows was actually used as a medicine in the early part of the last century. That’s right. Milk straight from the udder, a sort of “stem cell” of foods, was used as medicine to treat, and frequently cure some serious chronic diseases. From the time of Hippocrates to until just after World War II, this “white blood” nourished and healed uncounted millions.” source
Yet, despite all the health benefits, unless you are fortunate enough to have access to a local dairy, raw milk can be difficult to find.
When I first began my 24-hour yoghurt making obsession several years ago, I regularly used raw milk. That was until it became too hard to source. In Australia, it has been illegal to sell raw milk for consumption.
Fortunately for gut-loving foodies like myself, it is back! Made by Cow, is a new, world first method of producing raw milk that is cold pressed and completely safe to drink. They say “We don’t heat, pasteurise it, homogenise it, dilute it, standardise it, pull it apart or recombine it.”
I have to say, it makes awesome, creamy yoghurt. Look at all that cream!
If you have gut issues, fermented milk is more tolerable
When raw milk is fermented for 24-hours the lactose content is reduced and the milk casein is predigested. As a result, it becomes much easier on your digestive systems.
No need to heat the milk if it’s raw
Raw milk yoghurt is chock full of beneficial enzymes that will be destroyed if the milk is heated above 110° Fahrenheit (about 43° Celsius).
“If you make yoghurt from raw milk, then do not heat it, just add the starter and ferment. Only pasteurised milk needs heating, as pasteurisation makes milk vulnerable to contamination by pathogenic microbes. Raw milk is usually well protected by its own probiotic bacteria and other factors.”
The ideal temperature range for homemade yoghurt is 38-43° Celsius. If you want to ‘kick start’ your yoghurt fermentation process, you can gently heat the milk to 40° Celsius. This is within the temperature range of GAPS and SCD yoghurt. I used to do this before I had a proper yoghurt maker but the step adds unnecessary work so I no longer do it.
Raw enzymes in the milk can compete with the yoghurt starter culture and alter the consistency. So be warned, raw milk yoghurt may not look like the firm, wobbly commercial yoghurt you are used to. Depending on what the cows ate that day, yoghurt made from raw milk can also vary from batch to batch.
But while it may not look perfect, in my experience, yoghurt made from Made by Cow raw milk has come out thick and creamy every time.
Tips to thicken raw milk yoghurt
If you are using raw milk straight from a dairy and the consistency is too runny here are some healthy tricks to thicken it up.
- Combine a tub of fresh pure cream with the raw milk (awesome idea) Read about culturing cream here.
- Strain the yoghurt through a cheese cloth for approximately 30 minutes to reduce the whey content. If you do this overnight then you have produced cream cheese.
- Heat the raw milk to 40° Celsius and dissolve 1 tablespoon of premium powdered gelatin – I recommend Gelpro
It is recommended you sterilise the yoghurt making bowl and whisk beforehand. I have always found it is enough to wash in hot soapy water, then rinse in boiling water. The main danger with not sterilising is that other bacteria can overpower your starter culture and affect the quality of your precious yoghurt.
- Yoghurt maker – with GAPS / SCD temperature setting. I recommend Luvele yoghurt makers.
- Wire whisk
Raw milk yoghurt step by step
1. Pour the raw milk straight into the yoghurt making tub.
2. Add the yoghurt starter culture and whisk in. Follow the instruction on the pack. Each starter will be different.
3. Place the tub inside the yoghurt maker and ferment for 24 – 30 hours.
The temperature must stay between 38 – 43 degrees Celsius. If the temperature becomes too hot, the cultures die. If it is too cold, it will become dormant and you may get slimy stringy yoghurt.
4. Place the tub in the fridge for approx. 6 hours to set. Straight from the yoghurt maker, the yoghurt will be warm and runny. Be gentle with it – don’t stir it or else it won’t set in a perfect white mass.