Yesterday we started the process of making yogurt as a part of our summer activities. I almost said “homeschooling” then wanted to correct it to “unschooling”, but the truth is it’s really just living. I guess that’s what unschooling is about.
It was bright and early in the morning (and by that I mean 8:30) that we got up and went over to our neighbor’s house. It all started with reading the ingredients list on the yogurt container as a starter. We talked about the different bacteria, and how the bacteria aren’t bad germs, even though they are germs. The kids thought that was pretty cool. Our only regret is not having a microscope to view the bacteria with. That would have been cool.
We talked a bit about what makes an “active culture”. Our neighbor was funny about it. She had the kids pretend to be inactive if it was too cold to do anything, then they all jumped around the room when they were the “active” culture at the right temperature, then got sluggish and slow again when the temperature got too hot. It was a great way to show the kids the difference between active cultures and inactive ones. I never would have thought of doing it that way. As much as I teach kids, I really don’t teach kids. I teach as though I’m talking to adults. Our methods really differ, but I think that’s a good thing. It’s good for the kids to learn from different teaching styles.
After that each of the kids got to pour some of the milk into a giant pot. We heated the pot to 180 degrees (to kill all other possible bacteria sources), then waited for it to cool down to 120 before we added the yogurt culture. In the mean time the yogurt was mixed in with some of the milk that had been set aside and cooled so it would be liquid enough to mix in with the other milk. We called this the “mother culture.”
Of course, when I think of “mother culture” I think of a book I read last summer, Ishmael. It was a good read, but “culture” was viewed as a cage, trapping people from having real and meaningful experiences with each other and the world around them. The idea of “mother culture” made me laugh because in my head that was not a good thing, but I suppose it fit. We were “infecting” the milk with this “mother culture” to make something new, so I was amused. I think we may end up reading Ishmael when the kids get a little older, or when we become more accustomed to reading together.
After the yogurt had cooled enough, we mixed the “mother culture” in with the yogurt to make our yogurt. The kids quickly put all of the yogurt jars onto the table at the center of a towel, which was wrapped around them so the yogurt cultures could stay warm and do their magic.
That’s when the hard part came, the waiting. We ended up going back there today to check out the yogurt because it would have been done too late for the kids to go check on it. The yogurt was put up in the refrigerator to wait for them to check it out.
Luca was super excited to make the yogurt, but was the only one who didn’t want to try it. It was a little more runny than the neighbor had hoped, but about par for the course for commercial yogurts, from everything I could tell. Here Luca is telling us all about the yogurt and what it looked like.
I’m seriously considering looking into a yogurt maker. I know we can make it without one, but I would feel a little happier with one. We can always get some fresh berries and things to mix in with the yogurt, and smoothies would definitely be a good thing to add in. I bet even Luca would love a strawberry smoothie with fresh yogurt. It’s something to look forward to doing in the future.
As for today, I’m posting this while I’m home from work. Luca was restless last night for the second night in a row, so I got no sleep. Luca wanted me to stay home today, so I did. Hopefully Luca will get settled and follow a regular sleep routine soon. As you can see from the picture, we’ve started to keep Luca’s hair up too. We just found out Luca’s hair is long enough to French braid, and with keeping up the routine of brushing any time Luca eats anything this helps keep hair out of the way for that too.
Also, up and coming, Luca is getting a special present for his surgery ordeal. More on that when it arrives… And Luca’s birthday is coming up. Poor kid lost all those teeth just as a birthday was coming up! It’s okay, though. It just means we’ve got to make sure Luca gets an awesome present for being so brave. On top of that, Luca got $20 from the tooth fairy for all of that. It’s been an ordeal, but awesome is on it’s way.