BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cultivating Bacteria

Today's episode is essentially a food blog. Since we're on our pro-bacteria diet, I've worked on home-growing some bacteria; and wanted to document my efforts for future reference.

YOGURT est. prep time: 1.5 hours; 1 Lt of milk gives you 1 Lt of yogurt

Yogurt was probably the hardest fought battle of my efforts. I don't actually have any special yogurt tools, and the only thermometer that I could find in Maynooth was a cheap meat thermometer at Tesco's. Thus I really had to "guesstimate" the temperature (didn't even register below 130 F). This worked out for me the first time... but failed on my two subsequent attempts. I then purchased a generalized cooking thermometer which provided for the perfect yogurt making temperature.

1. Warm 6 Tbsp of yogurt up to room temperature.
2. Heat 1 liter of milk up to 180F. Stirring occasionally to prevent scalding (takes about 15 min).
3. Cool the milk down to 106F - 110F (~45 min).
4. Stir yogurt into milk till completely mixed.
5. Pour yogurt into glass jars, and maintain at approximately 105F for 3-4 hours.
6. Yogurt is set when it reaches thick custard (or vanilla pudding) like consistency.
7. If you don't have yogurt within 8 hours, then you either had a poor culture to start with (Glenisk worked well), or you added the culture when the milk was too hot, or the milk cooled down too quickly.

Clearly we don't have an easy way to keep the yogurt warm, so I simply wrapped my jar up in an old cashmere sweater, and left in it the not-so-hot press (hot water tank closet).

You can see how thick it gets when fully set in the picture below.So would I do this again? Well... given that yogurt is pretty cheap in Ireland, and it took a lot of time and energy, we wouldn't probably do this again. Brad really didn't like the fact that the yogurt was so runny. It didn't set as thick as commercial brands because we didn't use guar gum, pectin, gelatin, milk powder, etc. to thicken our yogurt. It was nice for granola, but not really like a solid yogurt.

YOGURT CHEESE est prep time: 2 min; 2 cups of yogurt gives you 1 cup of cheese

1. Pour yogurt into a strainer that has been lined with cheesecloth (I haven't found cheesecloth in Ireland, but my parents sent me some. You could use a really clean tea towel if you had to).
2. Leave in the fridge for more than 6 hours, or overnight.
3. Salt and season to taste!
So would I do this again? Yes! It makes a nice cream cheese, and you can season it however you would like. I would recommend sun dried tomato, basil and olive oil as our favorite!

COTTAGE CHEESE est. cook time: 1 hour; 4 Lt milk results in 1 Lt of cottage cheese

To start off with... there are tons of recipes for cottage cheese on the web that simply have you clabber your cheese with vinegar or citric acid. Have you ever looked at the ingredients on a tub of cottage cheese? Lactic Acid (bacteria). That's what clabbers cottage cheese. If you use vinegar or lemon juice, then you are actually making paneer and/or ricotta. These are not bacteria friendly, and they are rather flavorless cheeses anyways.

1. Pour a gallon (4 liters) of non-fat (skim) milk into a large pot with a 1/2 cup of good quality buttermilk (Avonmore didn't work, but Cuinneog did). FYI, using a higher fat milk is a waste, as the fat will just be drained off with the whey.
2. Leave on counter for 12 to 14 hour, until clabbered (curdled into a big mass).
3. Cut into curds by slicing on the diagonal in the pot. I cut into 1.5" cubes, but these were too large and fell apart when I stirred in the water.
4. Heat 8 cups of water to 100 F, then add to curds.
5. Keep at 100F by putting it on the stove in a basin of water. Gently stir every 5 minutes.
6. You're finished when the curds have separated from the whey (curds will be firm and sink to the bottom of the pot, which takes about 30 min to 1 hour).
7. Pour into a strainer lined with cheese cloth. Rinse with cold water (unless you want a more sour cheese) and allow to drain until most of the whey is gone, but not until the cheese is dry.
8. You now have 3 options for finishing. A) leave as a dry curd cottage cheese, and you're done. B) Turn it into snack-style cottage cheese by adding heavy cream and salt (to taste). C) Add salt (1-2 tsp) and continue to press moisture out of the cheese until it is a firm slicing cheese.
So would I do this again? Definitely. Organic cottage cheese is not even available in Canada, and in Ireland cottage cheese crazy expensive! This made a ton of it, it was so easy and so good. No wonder it was the staple cheese for every cottage dwelling peasant!

What does one do with a liter of cottage cheese? Well it melted nicely on our pizza, made a lovely lasagna, and a tasty lunchtime snack; but in the end I used most of it up making a traditional Eastern European comfort food.

PIEROGIES (VARENIKI) est. prep time: 45 min

Dough:
2 1/2 cups whole wheat or spelt flour (normally white flour is used... but we're on an anti-white flour diet)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 egg
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water (or enough to make a dough)

1. Mix all the dough ingredients together. Kneed for 5-10 minutes until you get a nice smooth dough. Cover with a damp towel, and let rest while you prepare your fillings.

Fillings:
Basically what ever you have on hand can fill a dumpling (and a thousand Doukhobor babushka's roll in their graves). Traditional flavors include: mashed potato and onion (today I used leftover baked potato mashed up with sauteed onion)
-cottage cheese (seasoned with salt)

Other fillings I've also tried:
-Mashed root veg (sweet potato, turnip, sweede (rutabaga), etc. Seasoned of course).
-Sauteed mushroom and onion
-Mashed fruit with sugar

For someone with more leanings towards the traditional, perhaps this website might help.
2. Roll out your dough, cut out circles, fill dumplings, making sure that the filling is well sealed up.
3. Drop dumplings into a pot of boiling water (careful not to crowd them), and let them boil until they float.
4. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon (or kitchen tongs, since I haven't got a slotted spoon) and drain in a strainer.
5. Drizzle with oil (or the less healthy but more traditional option, butter) to prevent sticking. They can be frozen, or stored at this point until it's time to eat them.
6. Heat up in the oven, or fry on the stove. Serve with more butter and sour cream!

1 comment:

Lori said...

What a fun post! I have never been brave enough to try making my own yogurt (a little weary of the bacteria factor). I have really been missing cottage cheese since I have been here...but probably not enough to make it myself! :)

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