I’m not sure why I waited so long to subscribe to Seth Roberts, self-experimenter extraordinaire and creator of the Shangri-La Diet, but after seeing enough shared items of his (H/T Patri Friedman), I finally did. And so far, I’m thoroughly enjoying his typical thought-provoking blog posts.
Recently, he’s been discussing how ice chewing is a sign of iron deficiency. Why is there a relationship here? Ice crushing is similar to bone-crushing, and bone marrow is high in iron. In other words, we are evolutionarily programmed to want to chew bones when we are iron deficient. More from Seth on that topic.
Of course, chewing ice provides us with no iron! That’s a problem.
Similarly, we may have desire for certain tastes out of a need for a certain type of nutrition. Seth has been wondering if the desire for taste is really a manifestation of a need for bacteria, as fermented foods tend to be very nutritious thanks to the bacteria and the neutralization of the bad stuff in the foods fermented (I.e. fermented soy reduces the toxin phytate. Dairy fermentation reduces lactose content.).
So where does that leave Seth? Super-fermented (read: sour!), sour yogurt of course!
I’m not ready to try this one out as it sounds kinda gross and I’m just not into yogurt at this point. The non-photogenic comment by Seth at the end makes it not so appealing, too.
However, I’m saving this down for posterity:
I had made yogurt dozens of times. This time, however, I wanted to get as much bacteria as possible so I incubated it about 24 hours instead of about 6 hours. It came out far more sour (due to lactic acid) than ever before. But it wasn’t just really sour (like vinegar); it also had complexity of flavor, creaminess, and a pleasant consistency. It was more sour (tart and tangy are the conventional terms) than any yogurt I’ve ever had. I couldn’t eat a bowl of it; I had to eat it with other food. This may be why commercial yogurt is mild: So you will/can eat more of it at one time.
The yogurt I made is essentially a condiment, although it can be mixed with fruit. It improves almost anything: soup, meat, fish, fruit, string beans, scrambled eggs. (Because almost nothing we eat is sour and almost nothing we eat is creamy.) It is better than other common condiments, such as mustard and chutney, because of its creaminess. It is also far cheaper than other condiments. A small bottle of mustard might cost $3. The same volume of homemade yogurt would cost about 10 cents. (You might need twice or three times as much yogurt to get the same effect.) It is far easier to make than other condiments. And, above all, I suspect it is infinitely better for your health. Mustard has few bacteria. If you complexify and sour your food with mustard, you are essentially chewing ice.
Recipe. I took a gallon of whole milk, mixed it with 2 cups of powdered milk, heated it at about 200 degrees F. for 10-20 minutes (I’m unsure if this step is necessary), cooled it down to 130 degrees F., added 1/2 cup of starter (from other yogurt), and then incubated it in my oven at about 110 degrees F. for about a day. I divided the mixture into four glass containers. Although the lowest possible setting on the oven is “WARM”, which was too hot, the thermostat actually works at lower temperatures. I set it below WARM and used a room thermometer to adjust the setting so that the temperature was about 110 degrees. (The photo above is not mine, incidentally. My yogurt is no longer photogenic.)