We eat a lot of yogurt in this house. A lot. A whole, hurkin' lot of yogurt.
We have lots of milk from the goats, see, and we all actually feel better (fantastic, even!) consuming this milk fermented (that's what yogurt is, you know, fermented milk) as opposed to fresh. I know all they say about fresh raw goat's milk being so digestible and good for you, but frankly it gives me a terrible stomach ache. And Evan screams during the night when he drinks it. Nathan and Jonah can have limited amounts, but not too much. And yet... we have goats. Hm. Let's not meditate on my logic in that, mkay?
My solution to this conundrum is to make things with it. It seems to be the lactose (milk sugar) that we react to. We all do just fine if that sugar is consumed by some friendly microbe that goes on to live and hopefully propagate happily in our guts. So I make cheese and yogurt. I used to make kefir, and I actually love kefir, but was having trouble keeping up with it, so it's currently residing in the back of the fridge, waiting for me to look benevolently on my beloved kefir babies and love them again. Someday.
All this to say that I try never to run out of yogurt in the house. I make litterally gallons of it every week. Evan lives on the stuff. I make it very sour, too (have to make sure all that lactose is used up!), and Jonah and I always put in a little maple syrup, but Evan and Nathan eat it straight. They're hardcore yogurt eaters. In fact, Evan happily ate lemons recently and never made a face. The sour just doesn't bother him. I'm also sharing it with an Amish friend who is having some terrible digestive problems and this yogurt is one of the few things she can eat and feel well.
My yogurt-making system involves using a cooler full of warm water as an incubator for the warmed and inoculated milk. I also do not pasteurize the milk before I make it into yogurt-- I keep the milk raw and just warm it and add the culture.
So. You thought this post was all about telling you about my system for making delicious, raw, creamy, thick, sour, fresh, greek-style, goat milk yogurt.
That was all preamble.
That was all just to lead up to showing you what I found in my yogurt cooler when I checked on it this morning, after starting a batch yesterday.
I love working with friendly microbes. In fact, I consider it my food passion. But sometimes. Sometimes, you just never know.
Proceed with caution.
(Apologies for the blown out photos-- I didn't think to take pictures while it was still in the house.)
This is what can happen when fermenting goes strangely awry.
It looked fine when I checked it and warmed the water before I went to bed last night (just like I always do). And this morning... wow. Near as I can tell, some rogue wild yeast took off in there and went to town. It actually didn't smell too bad. Kinda good, actually... yeasty... interesting.
It built up a lot of gas pressure in there and blew the lids off two of the jars. The other two blew as soon as I started to unscrew them. Thankfully, nothing broke. But-- two gallons of milk, ruined. The chickens has a feast of weird, plasticized cheese foam... stuff. The liquid went on the garden.
And I... cleaned up the mess and started over. We're OUT of yogurt. That is not good. Dangerous, in fact. What will we eat? I'm panicking, just a little.
If all goes well, we'll be in the clear tomorrow.