Yogurt My Mother

Yesterday we reviewed D.I.Y. Delicious: Simple Food from Scratch by Vanessa Barrington. Here's a story from Vanessa of how she found her way into the world of culturing (and, ultimately, writing a book!) through just one dairy product: Yogurt.

I didn't really set out to write a book. I was really just trying to teach myself how to make more of the ingredients I use in my cooking from scratch, rather than buying them packaged.

It all started with yogurt.

I was eating full-fat plain yogurt from a local organic dairy almost every day for breakfast. I was also using it in marinades, dressings, and sauces on a regular basis. It's delicious and I liked supporting this particular business, but it comes in plastic containers. Soon the containers started to stack up in my kitchen cupboard. Though they are handy for stowing leftovers, freezing broths, and sending friends home with food from parties, I had way more than I needed and it was bugging me.

So I decided to learn how to make yogurt. I didn't want to buy any type of one-use appliance, including a yogurt maker, so I researched how to do it without one. All you really have to do is heat good quality milk to the proper temperature, add some kind of culturing agent, like yogurt, and hold the milk at the proper temperature to allow it to culture and thicken. Easy.

In my research, I realized that there are many other simple cultured dairy products you can make at home. I already knew how to make crème fraïche, and I figured, since crème fraïche is cream, maybe I could whip it to make cultured butter. Then I discovered other possibilities like mascarpone—and all eventually ended up as recipes in DIY Delicious.

During the process of writing the book, I learned was that you can use almost any cultured dairy product to culture another dairy product. This includes buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt. Then it hit me that yogurt could actually be the mother culture of all the dairy products in DIY Delicious.

It works like this:

• Take whole yogurt with live cultures and make your own yogurt

• Use that yogurt to make crème fraïche.

• Drain the crème fraïche to get a thick, creamy tangy mascarpone (there's also a sweeter style in the book using another method).


• Whip the undrained crème fraïche until it turns to butter. You now have a tangy cultured butter.

• Drain the buttermilk off (and wash the butter) and you have delicious buttermilk for drinking, culturing another dairy product, or using in baking.

Pretty neat. I like to think of yogurt as both the mother culture of DIY Delicious and also all the cultured dairy products in the book.

Read our review of Vanessa's book & get a recipe from it: Cornmeal, Parmesan, and Poppy Seed Crackers: D.I.Y. Delicious by Vanessa Barrington
Find the book: D.I.Y. Delicious: Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratch by Vanessa Barrington. Published August 2010 by Chronicle Books. $16.47 at Amazon.

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Thank you so much for sharing, Vanessa!
Visit Vanessa's website & blog:
Vanessa Barrington

Related: How to Make Yogurt at Home

(Images: Jeff Potter at Cooking for Geeks licensed for use under Creative Commons; author photo: Susan Fleming)

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