This past weekend, my husband and I had the privilege of dog-sitting for my granddog Murphy. This time, Murphy’s parents (my daughter and son-in-law) weren’t here; they were off to a wedding in Florida. I took care of his every need, and Jerry became his best buddy. Jerry was in charge of the fun stuff. Jerry would lie on the floor, so that he would be at the same level as Murphy, and the puppy would be licking his face, madly wagging his tail and having a grand old time.
So, from Thursday night until Sunday morning Murphy had our undivided attention. Then Jerry’s daughter Elana, her son Benjamin and their cat, Abby, decided to join the fun.
Before they arrived, I explain to Elana that Murphy did not yet have all of his shots and was not supposed to be near any other animals or go outside, therefore Abby was going to have to stay in a bedroom upstairs which Ilana said would not be a problem. Easier said than done. Abby was not happy being cooped up in a room and we felt guilty having to do so. I told Ben I would pick up Murphy and hold him and he can let Abby have the run of the house for a little bit. As soon as they laid eyes on each other, Abby jumped backwards and Murphy … well let’s just say I wasn’t sure whether she wanted to eat her or play with her. Abby was only too happy to go back to the bedroom.
Although the weather forecast was for it to be raining cats and dogs over the weekend, the only cats and dogs were Abby and Murphy! Abby left later that day and Murphy didn’t seem upset.
When the kids took Murphy home, they also took all of the homemade goodies I prepared for him — fresh-baked salmon, boiled chicken and carrots and rice, and (as a treat) watermelon cut up into tiny pieces. Jerry and I were outside saying goodbye as they were heading home in an Uber. I kid you not, I’m embarrassed to say it wasn’t very much different than the first time my kids left for Camp Morasha.
Since I was busy all weekend, and left the column writing for the last minute, coupled by the fact that I’ve been writing this column for four years and I’m running out of recipes, I had to think quickly. Then it hit me: Yogurt. I haven’t written about yogurt yet! But I needed to do a bit of research first.
Historians agree that yogurt and other fermented milk products were discovered accidentally as a result of milk being stored by primitive methods in warm climates. We know that the word yogurt is Turkish in origin.
Most agree that it was the Neolithic people of Central Asia who came up with the concept of yogurt. The Herdsmen would milk the animals and store it in containers, which were made of animal stomachs. It seems the natural enzymes in the containers curdled the milk, essentially making yogurt. This not only kept the milk longer, it is thought that people preferred the taste, so they continued the practice, which then evolved over centuries into commercial yogurt-making.
It wasn’t long before word of the perceived health benefits of yogurt traveled through to other peoples, and the consumption spread throughout the East. The first industrialized production of yogurt is attributed to Isaac Carasso in 1919 in Barcelona — his company “Danone” was named for his son, “Little Daniel.”
After Turkish immigrants brought yogurt to North America in the 1700s, it really didn’t catch on until the 1940s when Daniel Carasso, the son of Danone founder Isaac, and Juan Metzger took over a small yogurt factory in the Bronx; the company is now called Dannon in the United States.
Yogurt with fruit on the bottom was first introduced in 1947 by Dannon. The popularity of yogurt soared in the 1950s and ’60s
It’s reported that Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire, and his armies lived on yogurt. And, everyone knows that there are people over 100 years of age, and still thriving, who credit eating yogurt every day for their longevity (of course, many a shot of alcohol might have been had as well, but that’s another story).
Around 1900, scientists started studying and isolating the bacteria that made yogurt. Soon after, they were able to combine selected strains that would culture reliably for commercial creameries. These blends are called direct-set cultures.
But how do you define yogurt?
In 1981, the FDA defined fresh, prepared yogurt in the United States and stated that it must include Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.
Many things have changed since people first cultured milk into a thick, tangy snack. However, yogurt is still tremendously popular and enjoyed around the world. If you’d like to make your own yogurt, or just want to try something you’ve never tried before, here is a simple recipe. I’m sure your children or grandchildren would find it interesting as well.
You will also need a thermometer.
2 Quarts whole milk
4 Tbs plain whole milk yogurt with live and active cultures
Rinse the inside of the pot with cold water. Add the milk and bring to a bare simmer, until the bubbles form around the edges of the pot (that will happen when temperate reaches 190 to 200 degrees). Stir while the milk heats.
Remove pot from heat and let cool until it feels warm, about 110 degrees.
Transfer 1/2 cup of warm milk to a small bowl and whisk in yogurt until smooth. Stir yogurt-milk mixture back into remaining pot of warm milk. Cover pot with a large lid. Keep pot warm by wrapping it in a large towel, or setting it on a heating pad, or moving to a warm place, such as your oven with the oven light turned on. Or just let it sit somewhere warm.
Let the yogurt sit for 6 to 12 hours, until the yogurt is thick and tangy. The longer it sits, the thicker and tangier it will become. Transfer the pot to the refrigerator and let cool for another 4 hours. It will continue to thicken as it chills.
Contact Judy Joszef: Columnist@TheJewishStar.com