Sunday, December 14, 2008

Turn sour milk into delicious yogurt in just 8 hours!

I'm not sure where I picked it up, but as a child, I remember hearing that you could cook with sour milk. Once I got to cooking age, that no longer seemed to apply, and friends would be unsympathetic when I would tell them about drinking milk past its expiration date because it didn't taste sour—but was definitely past its prime as evidenced by my discomfort.

Well, finally, I get to say I told you so. Turns out sour milk is perfectly drinkable, albeit in its raw, unpasteurized form. (And it should go without saying, from a healthy pastured animal.)

In fact, leaving milk out to sour was a common way to preserve the milk before pasteurization became the order of the day. Soured raw milk actually tastes sour because of the increased amounts of acid—not an unpleasant taste, especially if you're accustomed to and enjoy the tanginess in sour cream, yogurt or goat's milk. But unlike pasteurized milk, where the sterility opens the floodgates for any number of harmful bacterias to proliferate, raw milk never spoils. It sours, then curdles and separates, but even then, it contains many beneficial nutrients and bacteria.

Which meant my week-old souring milk was just ripe for making yogurt.

Recipe for raw milk yogurt.
  1. Heat the milk just before the point it's too hot to touch (you should be able to swirl your finger in it without discomfort), which is around 100˚ Fahrenheit.
  2. Pour into a clean mason jar.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of yogurt (I used Hawthorne Valley).
  4. Cover and set it in the oven with the oven light (and pilot light) on. It needs to be maintained at about 95˚ for 8 hours. Or put it in a cooler with some hot water bottles.
  5. Cool it in the refrigerator.
  6. Mix in some fruit and honey for a delicious breakfast treat or enjoy plain.

And yes, raw milk is illegal to sell in New York. But you can join in a cow-share, or buy direct from a farm. Find more info at

Trial and Error
I think I overheated the milk slightly and it came out a little chewy...more like a cottage cheese. But it's still pleasantly tangy and yummy.

14 comments: said...

do you buy chance have any other raw sour milk recipes? I was looking for a good sour milk scone recipe and it is not easy to find and old one that has been passed down.
Thank you

kate said...

I don't personally, but I will ask around!

Nancy said...

I'm not sure if I understood you correctly.
Did you use pasturized milk or did you use raw milk to make the yogurt?
I have some pasturized milk that has turned sour and I was hoping to be able to use it for something instead of throwing it away.

kate said...

Raw milk. I don't think pasteurized milk has the necessary enzymes to produce yogurt. On the other hand, might be great for a bath!

Gecika said...

I tried this the other day, but the yogurt didn't thicken like I thought it would. It's thick now.. but I'm not sure if that's because it's sour or if it's yogurt!

K.L. Bryant said...

Did you leave it out? Or refrigerated? Milk that's going sour doesn't solidify as quickly. Maybe it just took longer to set. If it was me and it smelled and looked okay, I would give it a taste.

Anonymous said...

I never throw out sour milk. I use it for baking all the time-in muffins, pancakes, waffles or cake. It can always be used instead of good milk. If I don't plan on baking soon, I just freeze it in 1 cup portions (that's often how much recipes call for). it's great and there is no waste!

Anonymous said...

What happens if you heat it too much/for too long?

kate bryant said...

If you overheat, it will kill the acidophilus and other cultures that create the yogurt.

*DiSTaNT DReaMeR* said...

You didn't overheat it, you made ricotta cheese. I think, when you scald cultured milk (aka soured raw milk), it creates ricotta, and in order to do raw milk yogurt, you need to either use fresh raw milk or make yogurt without heat if it's already soured :) I made the same mistake last week, but the recipe I used explained the ricotta thing a little bit. I'm still on the hunt for a good no-heat yogurt recipe.

Anonymous said...

You guys know milk is like cheaper than water right? Whoever said they freeze spoiled milk for later is an idiot

Ellis Garvin said...

I'm curious why you heat the milk. If it is to pasteurize it, then doesn't that kill the live cultures and enzymes that make raw milk so nutritious?

And if it is not to kill the live stuff, then why heat it?

Can't I just mix some yogurt in with my raw milk and let it do it's thing?

Kate Bryant said...

I think the point is to activate it. Think about when you're making bread, yeast will rise faster in a warm environment vs a cold one.

Ellis Garvin said...

That makes sense!