The point of this post is not so much to teach you how to make yogurt, greek yogurt and yummy probiotic whey lemonade at home. Though, we do that! See the recipes below! The point of this post is that it’s pretty easy to teach your kids how yogurt is made and, thus, how “fermentation happens!”
For Mother’s Day, I asked the kids if they would help me make some nourishing treats after school. Now, Bea loves yogurt, but she was busy with sports and homework, so I asked the yogurt skeptic, Toby, to help me with this project. And, as we worked away, I taught him a bit about the fermentation process. Namely, he learned that when live bacterial cultures are added to milk and kept reasonably warm, these cultures transform the natural sugar in milk, or lactose, into lactic acid. [A similar exchange occurs in our bodies when we work our muscles hard!]. This transformation makes the milk more acidic or tangy [lowering the PH level]. And it makes the protein in the milk, or casein, denature, so that it holds water in a semi-solid state or gel. So, yes, as Toby heated our full-fat organic milk [though, any milk will do], cooled it, and added a bit of probiotic organic yogurt to the mixture [though, any decent plain yogurt will do], we had our little chat. By the time he had poured his mixture into the Yogourmet for a 24 hour ferment [though, you don’t need a yogurt maker! you can simply use Frugal Girl’s mason jar and cooler method!], he’d had a little lesson in old-fashioned food science. As for the finished product? Amazing, naturally!
From there, we went a step further and, with the help of a Donvier Yogurt Cheese Maker [though a cheesecloth and a fine mesh sieve will do], we made half of our finished batch of plain yogurt into Greek Yogurt. Now, I have to say, this is the best Greek Yogurt I’ve ever had, EVER! It puts the gritty grocery store brand to shame and makes gourmet shop splurges seem un-creamy and un-smooth! Of course, the question, here, was, what is this whey stuff we’re draining out? For this, we headed over to mooscience, where we learned that as long as you aren’t lactose intolerant, acid whey is a fabulous source of lactic acid, lactoferrins, whey proteins and tons of other nutrients.
With this in mind, and, not to leave anything to waste [have you seen this gourmet whey article in Bon Appetit?], we took the whey leftover from the Greek Yogurt straining process and made a smaller batch, higher-whey-content version of the amazing wellnessmama‘s Probiotic Whey Lemonade. Today, Bea and Toby will try this as a lovely iced drink, adding a bit of sugar if necessary. They’ll learn that as the drink ferments, the sugar is cannibalized by the healthy bacteria in the drink. And, my husband and I will use this as a healthier margarita mix. I’ve already mixed a little with Gin and St. Germain for an amazing lemon-elderflower cocktail…WOW!
Below, you’ll find all of the recipes. The results, I swear, are amazing! But, for me, the best part is the look on their faces when the kids learn a little about food science, that is, when they both see and taste these natural phenomena in action!
Homemade Yogurt and Greek Yogurt
- 1/2 gallon Milk [we used organic full-fat milk]
- 1/4 cup Plain Yogurt [we used organic full-fat, with live cultures listed as main ingredients]
- Non-reactive Pot and Spatula
- Candy or Yogurt Thermometer
- Small Bowl Spoon, and Ladle
- Yogurt Maker with Yogurt Container
- OR Mason Jars Hot Water, and a Sturdy Plastic Insulated Cooler
- FOR THE GREEK YOGURT: Donvier Yogurt Cheese Maker or a Glass Bowl Cheescloth and Fine Mesh Strainer
FOR THE YOGURT
- Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into a non-reactive saucepan and attach a thermometer.
- Over medium heat, bring the milk to a temperature of 180F/80C, stirring occasionally. As the milk heats, if desired, prepare an ice bath for your milk pot.
- Remove the pot of milk from the heat and cool to a temperature of 110F/40C. The pan may be placed in an ice bath to speed the process.
- In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of yogurt with a few small ladles of the cooled milk.
- Pour the cooled milk into the yogurt-maker container OR evenly into 1 quart mason jars.
- Add the milk-thinned yogurt to the yogurt-maker container and stir to combine OR divide the milk-thined yogurt evenly between the mason jars and stir to combine.
- Cap the lid of the yogurt container OR seal the mason jars
- Fill the yogurt maker with water to fill line, Add the container of yogurt, and turn on the yogurt maker and process for 12-24 hours. [We process for a full 24 hours so that the yogurt is SCD - Specific Carbohydrate Diet - compliant, meaning the casein is less harmful to sensitive digestive tracts.] OR add the mason jars to the cooler, add hot water [120F/48C] to 5/6 the height of the jars, close the lid of the cooler and set aside for about 8 hours. [To make SCD yogurt, replace the water in the cooler with fresh, hot water at the 8 and 16 hour mark, completing your ferment at the 24 hour mark.]
- Remove the container[s] from the water bath and refrigerate.
FOR THE GREEK YOGURT
- Place 3 cups of yogurt in the mesh sieve of a yogurt cheese maker or in a cheesecloth-lined fine metal sieve set over a glass bowl.
- Refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
- Enjoy the yogurt and either discard the whey or USE it in your drinks, smoothies, marinades, dressings, and brines.
The topping on the greek yogurt in the photo is St. Dalfour Black Currant Preserve, a no-sugar-added bottled preserve found at the grocery store.
Probiotic Whey Lemonade
- 1 1/2 cups of the acid whey leftover from straining yogurt or soft cheese
- 5 lemons or other citrus, juiced [about 3/4 cup juice]
- 1/5-2/3 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups filtered water + 1/2 cup simmering filtered water
- 2 1 L jars
- Place 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar in each 1 litre jar.
- Add 1/4 cup simmering water to each jar and swirl until sugar is dissolved.
- Divide the juice of the lemons evenly between the two jars and swirl to combine.
- Add the water and swirl to combine.
- Add 3/4 cup of whey to each jar and swirl to combine.
- Cap tightly and store on the counter for 2 days.
- Refrigerate the lemonade jars.
Serve lemonade on the rocks or use a margarita or cocktail mix. We like it with Gin and St. Germain. It also makes a great flavouring for sparkling water! Adapted from Wellness Mama