I try not to make a huge focus on this blog that Don is a person with celiac disease. But the long and short of it is… Don can’t tolerate gluten. As I love to cook and experiment, this rarely poses any problem for me. As gluten is a protein, a lot of celiacs also cannot tolerate cassein, which is the protein in dairy… and to be more precise..its cassein from cow sources only. We discovered that Don can tolerate goat dairy the best. This makes sense because goat milk is far more similar to human milk and so can be much easier digested than cow.
With celiac disease… you have a bad gut.. and you have a bad gut A LOT of the time. As we all know, bacteria found in yogurt is beneficial to the gut. So some where a long the way, we started making goat yogurt for Don. It started out with his Mom making it for him and eventually reverted to me. The problem with goat milk… is that its naturally homogenized… actually it’s not a problem.. its one of the reasons it’s so much better for humans. But the problem when making yogurt is that its hit and miss with getting the yogurt to thicken with this natural homogenization it has going on. Finally I spoke to someone at the Happy Days Goat Dairy and they explained it to me… I thought that I was doing something wrong. So now, I add a half packet of gelatin to the process and it’s just enough to make the consistency right.
I start by adding the milk to the pot along with the powder and gelatin. Keep whisking until all the lumps are out, this will be easier as it starts to warm. I turn it on to simmer. Keep whisking and insert the candy thermometer on to the side of the pot.
It’s not supposed to boil… its supposed to get just to boiling point. I usually get distracted at this point and then I have boiled on goat milk all over the range…. this is why I only turn it to simmer…. the boil isn’t so violent when this happens. Once the temperature of about 200 is reached, I remove from stove and immerse in the a sink of cold water…. I also add the agave and lemon extract now.
Now I cool it down to about 105 – 110 degrees. You don’t want it to be any warmer because then the yogurt starter will die and if its any cooler…. well I am not sure what happens scientifically… but it doesn’t turn out either. Once the correct temperature is reached, you add the starter to a little bowl and add a soup ladle of warm milk to it. You whisk this like crazy, then dump it back into the main pot…. then you whisk like crazy again. Then you pour it all into the little yogurt containers and put in the maker for 10 hours or so.
There are a few variations…. if you save a bit of the yogurt from your last batch…. this is your starter. If you don’t, you can purchase starter… and then start saving it each time. I just skim off 2 tbsp from one of the containers and put into a cute little Tupperware container. When you save the starter… the yogurt turns out a bit different from when you use commercial starter… I have not figured out why, but as Don describes it, its more ‘chewy.’ I was using starter out a package until just recently when I ran out, then I saved some yogurt and it worked so now I just do it this way…plus its cheaper.
You can add any flavour extract you like… or none at all. We find that because goat milk is stronger in flavour than cow milk, the agave and extract cut a bit of that strong flavour out. I experimented with vanilla but Don didn’t care for it. You could also use honey or sugar for a sweetener.