Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lactose-Free Yogurt

When yogurt is made this way, it will have no lactose.  I choose to use whole milk because it is not as tart as a lesser fat milk, but you can use anything from skim to whole milk to make the yogurt.  Do not use a lactose free milk.  The yogurt will "eat" all of the lactose during the fermentation process.
I've adapted this from Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall (Elaine was a biochemist who specialized in researching how sugar is digested at the cellular level and how food affects the functioning of the digestive tract).  The directions are for use in a yogurt maker.  I use a Yo'Gourmet brand yogurt maker.  Any yogurt maker that will keep the yogurt at a steady 100 - 110 degrees F will work.
Directions for lactose-free yogurt:
1.  Bring 4 cups of milk to the simmer stage and remove it from heat.  Stir often to prevent burning.
2.  Cover and cool until it has reached room temperature (may be placed in refrigerator or another pot of cold water to hasten cooling).  It is important you allow the temperature to drop or you will kill the bacterial culture you are about to introduce.
3.  Remove about 1/2 cup of cooled milk and make a paste with 1/4 cup good quality commercial yogurt.  Buy yogurt that contains only milk, milk solids, and bacterial culture.
4.  Mix the paste with the remainder of the cooled milk and stir thoroughly.
5.  Pour milk into yogurt maker and let ferment at 100 - 110 degrees F for at least 24 hours.  If you forget to remove it after 24 hours, the fermentation will just continue making it even better.  Do not let the fermentation time be less than 24 hours; this should supersede any instructions that come with the yogurt maker.  This will insure that all of the lactose is completely digested by the bacterial culture.
6.  Remove from heat and refrigerate.
"While this yogurt may not be as thick as commercial yogurt, it will be true yogurt since virtually all of the lactose has been digested by the bacterial culture and further lactose digestion will not be required by intestinal cells."  From the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle.
If it is not as thick as you desire, you can drip the yogurt.  I put a paper towel in a sieve and place it on a large bowl.  I then pour the yogurt into the paper towel and let it drip until it is the desired consistency.
You should use commercially made yogurt as a starter every time.  Saving yogurt from a previous batch you have made will not have the same high levels of live bacteria that the manufacturer uses.  You can also buy starter bacteria, but commercial yogurt is just as beneficial (and may be cheaper).
If you want more information on how the yogurt is made, alternatives to a yogurt maker, or the science behind making yogurt, please pick up the book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle.