|Issue #92 • March/April, 2005|
One of my greatest joys is having a bounty of fresh milk from my goats come spring. And as I had two does milking on our new homestead in the woods, I set about making yogurt and ice cream for our treats. Making yogurt from goat milk is about as easy (and as delicious) as it gets. I just strain a quart of fresh, warm milk into a sterilized wide-mouthed quart jar, filling it to about an inch and a half from the top. Then I stir in two tablespoons of plain, live culture yogurt, such as Dannon, from the store. This needs to be mixed in quite well or you’ll get lumpy yogurt. Hold this at about 110 degrees until it has thickened. This can be done by wrapping it in a towel and setting it in a warm place. This can be on top of your refrigerator, on a book shelf, on the oven door of your wood range, or wherever it will maintain a warm temperature for several hours. It may take longer. Be patient. It is done when you can take a knife blade and stick it gently into the yogurt and it parts nicely.
You can now use this yogurt to start your next batch and so on for as long as it tastes great. If the taste starts to sour, start over again with the store yogurt as you’ve captured some not so nice bacteria. It’s acid, however, so you won’t get food poisoning. It’s just a matter of taste.
It takes about a quarter of a cup of homemade yogurt to culture a quart of new milk. Using more won’t make it thicker; in fact it often acts the other way. Don’t expect yogurt made from goat milk to be as thick as store bought yogurt as that has added gelatin to it. (Read the label.) But it is so good, creamy, and mild. If you want, you can add a tablespoon of flavored powdered gelatin, diluted with just enough boiling water to liquefy it, and mix it into the warm milk and starter. Then, later, as the yogurt is cooled, it will thicken the yogurt. Not thick enough? Simply add more next time.
I make a lot of French vanilla and berry yogurt. And this summer, I had some home canned peaches which had frozen in storage, and softened. These I added to the vanilla yogurt and it was just great. To make French vanilla yogurt, just add a teaspoon of vanilla and as much sweetener as you like to the finished yogurt, then chill.
Or you can add a couple of tablespoonfuls of any kind of fruit jam to a quart of new yogurt or like I did, chop home canned (or fresh if you have them) peaches and stir them in well. Of course, any kind of berries or fruit makes a great yogurt, too. This summer, we picked fresh wild blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries to toss into the yogurt. You’d be amazed at how much yogurt you can eat this way.
I had to laugh at my folks. They believed the old tales about how awful goat milk tastes and just about had to be tied down in order to try my homemade dairy products. Being smarter than I used to be, I started them off with wild strawberry ice cream and worked my way down to plain cold goat milk. Finally, I asked them if they still wanted me to buy store milk for them. “No,” my Dad said who used to call goats stinking abominations. “We’ll drink goat milk.”
Mom even has her own goat, a multicolored bouncy, flop-eared doeling from Angel, one of our gallon milkers.
I think it was the ice cream that did the trick, though. Not having an ice cream maker, nor time to crank one, I make sort of a shortcut ice cream that no one whines about. It is usually served as a thick milk shake. If you’d like to try this, just whip a teaspoonful of vanilla and as much sweetener as you like into a quart of fresh milk. Put the bowl into the freezer with a cover on it. I use a saucer if I don’t have a cover. When it is starting to freeze, take it out and beat it very well with a hand mixer or a blender. Put back into the freezer until almost frozen. Take out and mix well again. Back into the freezer until as hard as you’d like. Most of the time we can’t wait any longer and eat it like soft serve ice cream or add a bit of milk and beat it well, making milk shakes. Of course, like the yogurt, you can add as much or as little as you want in the way of flavorings. Fruit, jam, chocolate, chocolate chips, or even marshmallows and nuts all can be incorporated into the nearly frozen ice cream. You can also add almond, black walnut, or whatever extract you desire. Then there are banana splits, sundaes with fresh fruit (we used our wild blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, and syrup made from them).
My family just begs for more goat milk ice cream. With all the chores involved in getting a new homestead started, time is so precious, but making this delicious ice cream took so little time that we did it often.