Low FODMAP snacking: lactose free yogurt

There are several reasons why you may be considering abandoning store bought goods in favor of home-made low FODMAP yogurt and cream cheese. Let’s make a list.

First of all – additives. Now I’m no uber-eco-freak who only eats organic, raw veggies that grew with their leaves tilted to the South while silver swans were singing, but seriously, does a cup of yogurt need to have twenty ingredients? More to the point, what’s with all this sugar? Between you and me, having grown up in Eastern Europe and still remembering socialism with its sugar rationing and scarcity of sweets, my brain enters a psychodelic trance after consumption of major amounts of Western food.

Second – availability. I vividly remember last Christmas, when everybody was stuffing their faces full of cookies, chocolate and garlic sausage (not at the same time…), and I spent two days perusing store shelves with tears in my eyes, looking for a cup of lactose-free yogurt that did not have inulin, fructose or some bad fruit in it. Major fail. (Before you feel sorry for me: I eventually found a half pint of rice milk ice-cream which I devoured in one sitting. Totally made up for the yogurt fiasco).

Third – price! By Jove, am I really supposed to pay $2.49 for a 7 oz cup of yogurt? Back to the proletarian upbringing…

Fourth – only if you’re a little kitchen-crazy like me – because it’s so much fun! You get to pick the type of milk, the ‘doneness’, the flavourings… what’s not to like?

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Ready to try? Here’s one requirement: you’ll probably need a yogurt maker. They can be gotten fairly cheaply from Amazon or Ebay (mine cost about $40 and has paid for itself within the first few weeks), or maybe a friend or relative has one that they’re not using? Now, I’m saying ‘probably’, as there are many internet guides to making yogurt without any special equipment, like this one, or this one here. However, I personally never tried any of them; a yogurt maker seemed like a more controlled and hassle-free idea, it came with a thermometer so I did not need an extra one, and I can take the yogurt to work in the little cups that are part of the maker. If any of you do try the alternative methods, please leave a comment to share your trick! The scientist in me is dying to know.

 

Low FODMAP Yogurt and Cream Cheese

(yield: varies, preparation: 10 minutes, total time: 8-36 hours, difficulty: easy)

  • lactose-free milk, the amount that fits into your yogurt maker
  • yogurt starter

Measure out the milk into a bowl. Save a quarter of a jar and heat up the rest in a microwave to ~100 -110 degrees Fahrenheit. This usually takes 3-4 minutes; make sure you do not go higher or the bacterial cultures may die, you may want to invest in a candy thermometer, or perhaps your maker will come with one. Important: it’s generally recommended to first boil the milk and then cool it down to the correct temperature to kill off any bacteria already in it, but I buy Lactaid which is pasteurized and make yogurt right after opening the carton. Too lazy for the boiling method… however, I will not be held responsible for the consequences of following my rash choices.

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While the milk is heating up, dissolve a sachet of vegan (lactose-free) yogurt starter in the remaining cold milk. You have to stir well or it will clump. I get it from WholeFoods, any health store should have some, or you can try online.

Once the milk is warm, pour the starter into the bowl, mix well, distribute the mixture between the yogurt cups, put them into the maker without the lids and switch it on. 8-12 hours makes a sweetish yogurt, 24 hours will make a very thick, tangy version.

If you want to turn some of the yogurt into cream cheese, take a fine sieve, line it with 3 layers of paper towels (or cheese cloth), place it in a large saucepan and carefully pour in the yogurt. You’ll get less than 1/2 of the starting volume when it’s done. Leave this assembly in the fridge for 6-12 hours, depending on how thick your yogurt was and how solid you want the cream cheese to be. Now, this will not make the ‘block’ cream cheese you may be used to – the fat content is not nearly high enough – but I like it lighter. When left to drip for over 24 hours, it will actually become stiff enough to roll into little balls which you can then cover in seeds, herbs or chopped nuts for a very elegant dish.

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A few words on the milk and starter: the recipe only works with lactose-free dairy milk (like Lactaid here in the US). While there are methods of making yogurt from coconut or almond milk, they involve gelatin or some other tricks to make it thicken and are too much work in my humble opinion. Also, one could theoretically use normal dairy milk and ferment for 24 hours to get rid of most of the lactose, but I have not tried that. Might do when I get my hands on some goat’s milk. As for the starter, I go with a commercial version for simplicity and consistency of bacterial culture. Some people use a little yogurt from the last batch as starter but I worry about changes in culture composition with repeated fermentation.

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Once the yogurt is done, you can add whatever you want – nuts, seeds, sugar, fruit, jam, maple syrup, stevia… I like it with salted peanuts and ginger. It also makes for a killer sauce for potato salad when mixed with mustard, and works well as replacement for sour cream in soups and on tacos. As for the cream cheese, try it on low FODMAP bread with strawberry jam or with black pepper, salt and chives. In the photo above, I’m serving it with sesame seeds and marinated ginger. Smacznego!

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