How to make yogurt with raw milk
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How to Make Yogurt with Raw Milk

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Yogurt has been enjoyed by countless people around the world for thousands of years.  This tangy, probiotic-rich treat is delicious by itself, topped with fresh fruit, or blended into smoothies.  It can also be used as a convenient substitute for sour cream!  Despite its plethora of health benefits and uses, yogurt is extremely easy to make at home.  Today, I’m going to delve into the world of how to make yogurt with raw milk.

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You can easily use pasteurized milk – I recommend using organic milk when possible – bought from the grocery store for this recipe, but this post will focus on using farm fresh raw milk to make raw yogurt. 

IS RAW MILK SAFE TO DRINK?

There is a common belief that consuming raw milk is unsafe.  I’m not going to delve deeply into this particular topic because I believe it’s important to do your own research on topics of this nature. But, I will say that I believe the safety of raw milk depends largely on where you sourced your milk.  Drinking milk sourced from a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) prior to pasteurization is unwise.  The cleanliness of these operations leaves much to be desired and the risk of milk contamination is high.  Small dairy operations tend to be much more hygienic.  Do your own research and make the decision that makes the most sense to you.

BENEFITS OF RAW MILK

While pasteurization has it’s time and place, the pasteurization process removes good things from milk.  Any milk sourced from a CAFO should be pasteurized due to the unsanitary conditions of the facility and the resultant high risk of bacterial contamination.  However, the pasteurization process damages or destroys the naturally occurring probiotics and healthy bacteria, in addition to unwanted, dangerous bacteria. Pasteurization of milk is a bit of a double-edged sword.

tYPES OF MILK – A1A1 VS A2A2

Additionally, the overwhelming majority of store-bought milk is “A1A1 milk,” which is associated with digestive problems many people experience. Most large-scale dairy operations have cows that produce A1A1 milk.  Many small dairy operations raise cows which produce A2A2 milk.  Both types of milk originate from cows, but they contain distinct proteins that can affect digestion and overall health. A1A1 milk contains the A1 beta-casein protein, which some studies suggest may contribute to digestive discomfort in certain individuals.

On the other hand, A2A2 milk contains the A2 beta-casein protein, which proponents claim is easier to digest and less likely to cause adverse reactions. While scientific evidence is still emerging, many consumers report experiencing fewer digestive issues when consuming A2A2 milk compared to its A1A1 counterpart.  Ultimately, choosing between A1A1 and A2A2 milk is a personal decision that may depend on individual tolerance and preference, but being aware of these differences empowers consumers to make informed choices for their health and well-being.

OUR EXPERIENCE WITH RAW A2A2 MILK

My husband has experienced a number of unpleasant gut issues from store-bought yogurt, milk, or milk products for many years.  However, since we started sourcing our milk from a local small farm, he has cautiously started reintroducing dairy into his diet.  He is finding that he can tolerate raw A2A2 milk much better than the store-bought dairy products.  In fact, although he still consumes raw A2A2 dairy cautiously, he’s finding that he can regular consume home churned butter and homemade coffee creamer without perceptible issues.  

Unlike its pasteurized counterpart, raw dairy is brimming with essential nutrients and enzymes that remain intact thanks to its unprocessed nature. Replacing that store bought gallon of milk with unpasteurized milk sourced directly from a local dairy had numerous health benefits for our family.  In my opinion, raw A2A2 milk is the most nutritious cow’s milk you can use.

Additionally, milk sourced from a local farm often comes in half gallon glass mason jars.  With the growing concern about microplastics their detrimental impact on both human and environmental health, avoiding the plastic containers used in most milk packaging is one easy way to reduce plastic exposure.

BENEFITS OF HOMEMADE RAW MILK YOGURT

Our experience with homemade yogurt using farm fresh milk has been a good one.  I have severe endometriosis, which is currently classified as an inflammatory disease. Every case of endometriosis is different, but in my case, endometriosis has triggered a complex set of chronic GI issues.  I’m continuously working on managing my digestive issues as naturally as possible.  Eating clean, whole foods alongside making and eating my own yogurt has been a vital part of natural management.  

Endometriosis can be a very destructive disease and has made it very difficult for my body to digest a large number of foods.  However, regularly eating a cup of yogurt has helped manage my gut issues.  The beneficial enzymes, active cultures/live cultures, and good bacteria in homemade yogurt helps keep my GI function as healthy as possible.

RAW MILK YOGURT COOKING PROCESS

Making thick raw milk yogurt is simple and doesn’t require any special equipment. The process of fermentation for every new batch of yogurt is a slow and gentle one.  You need to place your milk and yogurt culture into an environment with warm temperatures to promote a healthy fermentation process.  Although many articles and resources may lead you to think you need a yogurt maker before embarking on your yogurt making endeavors, you don’t.  The two most commonly used tools for making your own homemade yogurt are either the slow cooker or the Instant Pot. I’ve tried both methods numerous times over the years.  While you can get equally good, consistent results with both methods, I’ve found that using an Instant Pot with a yogurt function requires the least effort.  

Raw milk, yogurt starter, and an Instant Pot are all you need to make yogurt with raw milk.

Just two ingredients!

To make this raw milk yogurt recipe, all you need is raw milk – half a gallon to a gallon – and some kind of yogurt starter culture.  Although you can certainly buy starter cultures specifically for yogurt making, this isn’t necessary.  Having a starter culture is necessary. However, you can easily use regular yogurt from the store as your starter culture. It’s important to use plain yogurt that has live, active cultures, so you get those beneficial bacteria in your final product.  If this is your first time making yogurt, I recommend going to the store to get some plain, organic yogurt to use as a pasteurized mother culture.  For your next batch, you can use yogurt from your previous batch of raw milk yogurt as your culture. I use store bought yogurt as my starter culture about every 5-6 batches.

uSING yOUR YOGURT CULTURE

To make raw milk yogurt, you first mix raw milk with a spoonful of probiotic-rich plain yogurt. Place yogurt and raw milk mixture into the instant pot, select the yogurt setting, cover with either the lid or a plate, and select your ideal culturing time.  I usually let my raw milk and yogurt culture ferment for about 8-12 hours.  The longer you let your yogurt ferment in a low but constant temperature environment, the more tangy your result will be.  If you prefer a less tangy yogurt, select a shorter fermentation time.  Once your fermentation process is complete, your yogurt is ready to eat. But, we need to talk about desired consistency and initial results…

A FEW TIPS & TRICKS

When you first open your Instant Pot, you’re likely to be greeted by the vibrant, tangy smell of freshly fermented yogurt.  It can be tempting to want to grab a bowl and spoon and to indulge in this probiotic, gut-healthy treat immediately. Alternately, you may be very turned off by the initial appearance. In the case of the photo below, the uneven color and streaks are from the cream content of the raw milk.  While you can absolutely eat yogurt in its initial newly fermented state, there are a few considerations you need to be aware of. 

At first glance, your yogurt may appear thick and solid, as though you could easily eat it with a fork. However, when you start to disturb it when transferring it to a storage container, the yogurt will start to appear clumpy and watery.  This is a normal part of the process.

Yogurt and Whey

It can be tempting to think you did something wrong and that your yogurt is ruined when you see this separation happening. This is simply the separation of yogurt and whey.  When you make yogurt, you actually get two final products – yogurt and whey. Whey is a naturally occurring biproduct of yogurt making.  I’m not going to delve into this topic today, but suffice it to say that whey has quite a few beneficial uses, as well.   For example, whey from yogurt making can be used as a substitute for water in baked goods like homemade sourdough.

How to separate Yogurt and whey

I always blend my yogurt prior to eating. But the presence of whey in freshly fermented yogurt is what makes homemade yogurt notoriously runny. Blending the yogurt prior to removing some of the whey will leave you with something akin to yogurt soup. If you’re using yogurt in soups or smoothies, this isn’t an issue.

If you want a thick, creamy yogurt topped with fruit or homemade granola, you’ll need to strain it first.  I prefer a medium to thick consistency yogurt, so I always strain my yogurt before blending. Due to time constraints, I’m not always able to attain the consistency of Greek yogurt. With enough straining time, it is possible to get that thick Greek yogurt consistency.

There are a number of different techniques you can use to strain whey from your yogurt.  Many recipes suggest using a cheesecloth or tea towel to strain your yogurt. Personally, I don’t care for that method. Using a cheesecloth leaves you with a yogurt covered piece of fabric that needs prompt laundering.  Simplicity is the name of the game around here. So, I experimented with other methods of straining my yogurt. I use a large mesh strainer lined with an unbleached coffee filter. This works every bit as well as a towel.  Cleanup for this method is easy. Just throw the used coffee filter in the compost bin and the strainer in the dishwasher.  

Final Steps

Unless you let your yogurt sit in the strainer for several hours, there is still going to be visible whey once you transfer it to a storage container. Once my yogurt has been strained, it looks like a clumpy watery mess. This is where my immersion blender comes in handy. I just blend directly in the storage bowl and let it chill in the fridge before serving. In my experience, blended yogurt can still be somewhat runny – it usually thickens up a bit once chilled.

Ways to Use Raw Yogurt

I always keep raw milk yogurt on hand. Most often, I eat it with fruit and honey, or with homemade granola. But it can also be used as a sour cream substitute in soups or on tacos.

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! I’d love to know what ways you regularly incorporate yogurt into your diet!

Easy Raw Milk Yogurt

This raw milk yogurt is a delicious, healthy treat and is SO easy to make at home using just two simple, natural ingredients.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Course Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Servings 8 approximately

Equipment

  • Instant Pot
  • Immersion Blender
  • Glass Storage Bowl with Lid
  • Mesh Strainer
  • Unbleached Coffee Filter

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 Gallon Raw Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt (approximately)

Instructions
 

  • Pour milk into instant pot.
  • Stir about 1/2 cup of plain yogurt into milk.
  • Place lid on and turn lid to cooking position.
  • Push "Yogurt" button.
  • Once yogurt has completed its processing time, strain if desired.
  • Place strained yogurt into glass storage bowl. Blend with immersion blender, if desired.
  • Cover and refrigerate.

Notes

Some people choose to remove the silicone ring from the instant pot lid prior to fermenting yogurt as the ring can to hold smells.  Although I haven’t personally done this, it’s something to be aware of.
Keyword From Scratch, Healthy Food, Raw Milk

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