Reader Gerhard in Vienna did a little research and dug up this clip on the German and/or European myth that lightning and yogurt are connected.
“This folk wisdom has a basis in reality. In agrarian societies it was customary to place a jug of milk in a warm place [to culture yogurt]. In the evening it was then eaten as a junket with bread. Since the odds of thunderstorms with lightning is quite high on warm summer afternoons, people most probably noticed that the milk thickens very well on those days,” explains Gerhard Kielwein, former professor of hygiene and technology of milk from Giessen. “Before a storm, the air is often moist and warm. These are favorable conditions for the lactic acid bacteria that are present in the milk. They convert lactose into lactic acid when the milk is not refrigerated. The sour milk coagulates.”
There’s that word “junket” again. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it — or only know it as the term for those shady fundraising trips politicians take — “junket” is a mixture of milk, sugar (or honey) and other flavorings that’s quick-coagulated with chymosin-rich animal rennet. It’s curds and whey, in other words, the stuff Little Miss Muffet ate. Junket isn’t around much anymore, though it was once a very popular food item with children and/or sick people because it’s sweet, mild, silky and easy to digest. You might think of it as sort of an instant, sweet cheese. That said, I’ve never heard the term applied to yogurt before, but I suppose the word mostly fits. On the subject of lightning, reader Laura offers this:
This is just a guess, but I think that pre-storm weather is characterized by increased positive ions in the air, and I think that positive ions are associated with increased bacterial activity. Maybe this is why yogurt sets up better before a storm.
Thanks to both of you for helping me out in this!