Yogurt with a Bang

Several years ago I had occasion to hear a very unusual story about yogurt from one of the oldest of Chicago’s old-school German chefs. I was working on an article on food preservation at the time, and nobody but nobody preserves food like a old German, my friends. We were poring over the technical details of his grandmother’s fruit preserves, pickles, sausages, cheeses and the like, when suddenly he digressed onto the subject of yogurt. He told me that German housewives once believed that the trick to good yogurt was to leave milk out under the house eaves on a warm spring evening when there was a storm rolling in. Somehow, it was thought, the combination of milk, moisture, temperature and lightning all combined to make yogurt cultures grow.

I’ve looked high and low for someone else who’s heard this story before, and can give me some clue as to where/how it evolved. I mean, lightning? What the heck does that have to do with the price of Acetobacter in orientalis? If anyone out there can shed any light on this, please do send me an email.

2 thoughts on “Yogurt with a Bang”

  1. Here is something similar which happened to me twice. In the summer I holiday in Cornwall, England. I often stay at Travelodges which typically have no fridge. I like milk for breakfast so I buy a carton and leave it on the window sill to stay relatively cool overnight.

    On two occasions the milk had turned to yogurt by the morning.

    The commonality between the two was
    1. the carton was already open
    2. the night was humid but not particularly warm just mild
    3. the milk was pasturized full fat locally produced in Cornwall

    If I try that at home in Chesire England, the milk just goes bad

    I put it down to the Cornish milk

    1. Hi Pete!

      That’s fascinating. It’s definitely a microbe in Cornwall. Whether it’s arriving in the milk or through the air, there’s some sort of lactic acid bacteria there that’s good at creating gels. Fascinating how different micro-flora and fauna vary from place to place. My guess is it’s simply in the air. Overnight is plenty of time for this sort of growth to occur. Thanks for the testimony!

      – Joe

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