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Piim채

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 09 February 2018 at 15:22
Piim채

The many different varieties of fermented dairy products in Scandinavia are a testament to a very strong culinary tradition stretching back hundreds of years or more; a tradition that evolved as a result of the need to preserve fresh food through the long, dark, meager months of winter. Over time, these cultured milk products progressed from being necessary survival foods to beloved national treasures. In all of Scandinavia, but particularly in Finland, foods that might be thought of as overly robust or even 쐆arsh due to their preservation methods are indeed considered absolutely integral to the understanding of the foodways and the culture as a whole. This idea as it relates to dairy was expressed rather well in Time/Life셲 Foods of the World - The Cooking of Scandinavia; 1968:

Quote Finnish thirsts, like appetites, seem to fall in the masculine range. Beer continues to be brewed in many houses, and depending upon how long it is left to age, it can attain varying degrees of potency. Powerful hard liquors are also produced domestically, and these are supplemented by large imports of spirits. In the consumption of Cognac, which they buy from the French, the Finns are front rank; though they number only four-and-a-half million souls, they consume as much Cognac as many countries of 40 million.

But to counterbalance their high intake of alcohol they are also great milk drinkers, downing nearly 300 litres (80 gallons) per person each year - a world record. Much of this is consumed sour, either as viili or piim채, two Finnish favourites. Viili is eaten, piim채 drunk. Viili comes in two varieties - 쐋ong or 쐓hort, depending on the size of the curd and the bacteria used as a culture. When at its best, the long viili should be elastic - or so say the Finns - as to require cutting with a scissors.


Not too long ago, I had the good fortune to participate in a 쐅roup buy that Brook (HistoricFoodie) had initiated for various European yoghurt cultures. The culture that I received was for piim채, which - as mentioned above - is a thin yoghurt that is usually drunk rather than eaten, much like cultured buttermilk. The website www.culturesforhealth.com has a further description:

Quote Scandinavia has a lovely history of cultured foods. From sourdough breads to pickled herring to the drinkable yogurt known as piim채.

Because of its Scandinavian roots (Finnish, to be exact), piim채 cultures well in colder climates.... Piim채 [is thin and] has a lovely nutty, mild flavor. Piim채 is so thin, in fact, that it is more commonly drunk from a glass than eaten with a spoon. Piim채 has a smooth texture and can sometimes have a stretchy consistency similar to honey.

In Finland piim채 is commonly drunk straight from a glass in the summer heat, with or without salt. [Modern Finns commonly p]our it over fruit or granola in a bowl, layer it in a parfait, eat it with cereal, dip fruit in it, or strain it through cheesecloth for a thicker consistency, then season and use as a spread or cheese. [one can also m]ix it with juice and drink it from a glass, blend it with frozen fruit for a smoothie...top a favorite savory dish...[or u]se it as the base of a salad dressing or vegetable dip....

The piim채 culture can also be used with cream or half-and-half, for a thicker piim채 cream, which can be used in place of sour cream or cr챔me fra챤che.... Cultured piim채 cream can be used in place of heavy whipping cream to make a nutty, probiotic-rich cultured butter.

https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/yogurt/drinkable-yogurt-piima-why-useful/


Time/Life discusses a more traditional and time-honoured use for piim채, utilising a much-treasured group of foods that have been relied upon since the beginning of human existence in Scandinavia:

Quote Berries play an important part in the Finnish diet - all too often they are practically the only source of vitamins in this Northern land where fresh vegetables frequently cannot be had. Beginning in early summer and continuing into the fall, the berry harvest goes on, with crop after crop reduced to juice, jam or conserves. Raspberries or strawberries are made into snows of beaten egg white and whipped cream, or thick puddings called kiiseki. Sometimes they are eaten plain, with sugar and cream and, perhaps, piim채. Occasionally this method of eating raspberries is varied by pouring them into a soup bowl, tossing in cubes of black bread, sprinkling sugar on top and dousing the whole with sweet cream.


Piim채 - and dairy products in general - are so loved in Finland that they are not easily forgotten. Time/Life offered these parting words on the subject:

Quote The good old dishes, tried and true, are still available for everyone to eat. Plain though these may often be, they are all of them touched with poetry. Finns who leave their country, never to return, remember their food and the good, strong taste of it until they die. Those who go back on a visit are likely to come away with some dill in their luggage or a little piece of cloth dipped in piim채, then dried to use as a starter for making the Finnish sour milk at home. And even those Finns who will never leave Finland and who eat Finnish food every day can be made nostalgic by the mere mention of the ancient specialties. I remember the faraway look in the eyes of one Finn as he described a smooth, rich custard baked from beastings, the thick, creamy milk of a cow that has just calved. 쏧 feel almost sick, he said, 쐄rom the yearning of it.


I found this last passage to be particularly relevant, as it describes a process that I myself was preparing to take part in; my own journey would be only slightly more modern and 쐓ophisticated in nature, but not by much.

The procedure for making this is extremely easy; instructions can be found here, if you need them:

https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/yogurt/counter-top-yogurt-starters-video/

Otherwise, follow along, Dear Reader, and let셲 get started!

Before we go forward, I need to relate one issue that may or may not ultimately affect the piim채 that I am making. When I set out to start this project, I had no milk on hand, but I did have just enough heavy cream (long story) to attempt this; the instructions for Piim채 state that you can use heavy cream in order to make a thicker version that has a consistency similar to sour cream, so I figured it would be worth a try. The difference - which might or might not be critical - is that the Piim채 Cream is made using Piim채 yoghurt that has already be cultured and established from milk, whereas I was beginning with cream. My instinct tells me that this difference should not be too critical; however, I honestly don셳 know for sure - I suppose I will know by tonight.

Here is all that one needs to give this project a try:



Central to the process (and the photo itself) is the piim채 culture, which can be seen in the small foil packet above; alternately, piim채 can be started with an existing batch, using one tablespoon of the yoghurt for each cup of milk that it is added to. Further, as mentioned in the Time/Life passage above, one can even try a more rustic method for perpetuating this yoghurt by dipping a small piece of cloth in a batch of piim채 and allowing it to dry, then using it as a starter.

Whole or 2% milk gives you a higher yield of end product; however, skim milk can also be used. Other than that, not much else is needed: a container for the product to ferment in (a mason jar works very well), something to stir it with, a cloth, paper towel or coffee filter that will allow it to breathe while keeping potential contaminants out and a means by which you can secure that temporary lid/filter.

Only one packet of culture is needed to get started, so I tucked the other one away and commenced. First, I measured my dairy; in this case, cream (although milk would probably have been more proper):



Next, I poured the dairy into the jar and added the packet containing the piim채 culture:



After that, I stirred the culture into the dairy and fastened the cheesecloth with the ring from the canning jar:



That is, literally, all there is to it.

The instructions state that from this point, the starter should be placed in an area with a stable temperature between 70 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, which I was able to do, even in our old, drafty house in the middle of a raging north-Montana winter (as I write this, wind chills are expected to approach 50 degrees below Zero Fahrenheit, tonight and tomorrow night).

The starter should then be left alone for 12 hours, then checked for any signs of development. After reading about the experiences of Mike (PitRow) and Brook, I did not expect to see much activity, but I did take a peek now and then. After the 12-hour mark, it should be checked every few hours, for up to 48 hours. When it is evident that the culture is set, or at the 48-hour mark - whichever comes first - the container should be covered with a tight lid and refrigerated for at least 6 hours before it is consumed. As mentioned above, be sure to reserve at least a tablespoon, so that another culture can be started with it when added to 1 cup of milk.

My fledgling piim채 hit the 36-hour mark this morning; based on Mike and Brook셲 experiences, I had intended to put it in the refrigerator at that time, regardless of how it looked, but forgot to. When I get home after work, we should still be an hour or two before the 48-hour mark, and I will put it in the refrigerator at that time.

That셲 about all I have for now, except for one final note: while I was writing this post, I did a little looking at the Cultures for Health website, and found this passage that is evidently relevant to the fact that I started this with cream, rather than milk:

Quote Many yogurt cultures perform very well in half-and-half or even in cream, producing a rich, thick yogurt that is almost like sour cream. When using a reusable yogurt culture, make sure to retain some yogurt from a previous batch to use as starter. Cultured cream does not re-culture well, as the lactose content is very low. (emphasis mine)

https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/yogurt/choosing-milk-for-making-yogurt/


Based on this, I am cautiously optimistic that this will work. If it doesn셳 look like the piim채 is getting established, one option 쐌ight be to add a bit of whey from another source in order to boost the scant lactose content of the cream; if this looks like it will become necessary, I셪l give that a try. In any case, I will certainly be sure to have milk on hand when I perpetuate the culture, and will probably use two or maybe even three times the normal amount of starter to get it going, in hopes of providing enough lactose.

Sorry for the bit of uncertainty in this last bit, but I am learning as I go...that셲 what makes it fun!

More as it happens, etc. &c.

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 February 2018 at 16:26
Great start Ron, I can't wait to see the results.

I do have one question, actually more of a pondering out loud, about this point...

Originally posted by TasunkaWitko TasunkaWitko wrote:

Many yogurt cultures perform very well in half-and-half or even in cream, producing a rich, thick yogurt that is almost like sour cream. When using a reusable yogurt culture, make sure to retain some yogurt from a previous batch to use as starter. Cultured cream does not re-culture well, as the lactose content is very low. (emphasis mine)

https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/yogurt/choosing-milk-for-making-yogurt/


It seems to my feeble brain that it shouldn't matter what you use to re-culture with, as the lactose would be provided by the new cream or milk, not the previous batches source. Though maybe they're referring to not being able to start and keep going with cream continuously. Perhaps if you made a batch with cream you'd need to do the next batch with milk to have enough lactose for the culturing to take place? I don't know. like I said, just a pondering out loud mostly.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 February 2018 at 15:49
I have been most remiss in providing updates on the project; partially because our office is relocating at work, and partially because we have had some incredible weather up here resulting in extra driving time at a slower pace. No big deal - that's life in Montana!

Picking up here I left off above:

When I got home after work, I was able to inspect the Piim채 just a couple of hours shy of the 48-hour mark; here is how it looked at that time:



As Mike noted on his thread, it is quite difficult to get a good photo of these cultures in most situations; lighting and lack of contrast tend to be two of the biggest culprits. I tried playing with the photos a bit, but no matter what, it's sort of hard to see.

The Piim채 was a bit runny, as expected, but there were definitely areas of coagulation and it seemed to me that it was forming up fairly well. There are clearly areas that were thicker and others that are thinner, but it was still pretty thick over-all and quite yoghurt-looking in appearance. It was clinging to the sides of the jar, and from what I could see, it was certainly cultured. I took a "finger taste" and got a nice little bit of the nutty flavour that the literature mentioned.

Keep in mind that this batch was made with 100% heavy cream, which is not the normal situation for the "yoghurt" version of Piim채; milk is usually used, but cream can also be employed for a "cultured cream." My guess was that, had this been made with milk, it would have been a lot thinner, as is normal.

In any case, I put the jar into the refrigerator; there have been mixed ideas on whether the culture would need to be stirred as it goes into the refrigerator, but after some experience with this, I've come to the tentative conclusion that it doesn't matter too much. Having said that, I did give it a couple of shakes, just because it seemed like the thing to do.

The literature states that the Piim채 is "ready" after 6 hours in the refrigerator; I happened to be up at that time, so I took a look at it. One thing I could see right away was that it was indeed very, very thick, very close to cream cheese in appearance. There was a slight bit of thin, runny liquid that might have been whey, but it looked more like thick milk.

Tasting it, I found it to be very rich; extremely smooth in texture and with a very fresh dairy flavour that was somewhere between cream and butter. There was no tanginess in the taste that would associated with cultured dairy such as buttermilk or sour cream, but there was the "nutty" flavour that has been prevalently mentioned throughout the project. I liked it a lot, but part of me kept wanting to agitate it in order to see if it would make butter; indeed, I did give it a few shakes, and I could feel the thicker areas slapping against the sides of jar, so I left it alone and put it back into the refrigerator.

The next day, I took another look at it; it looked the same as it did the night before, and I was able to get a couple of photos:



The colour isn't quite as "yellow" as it appears here; the lighting in my house is simply not good.

I spooned some out into a dish, and was able to get a photo that was better able to show the colour and texture:



It tasted much the same as it did before; maybe a bit more developed, but I couldn't say for sure.

My conclusions regarding this first attempt with the cultured cream are that it could be very interesting and have a lot of uses; in the future, I will look into making a cultured butter with it, but I think it would also be good spread on bread, or as a topping for certain hot foods, or with fruit. By itself, I would definitely recommend trying a couple of spoonful, but probably not more than that; it is incredibly rich.

By Tuesday, 14 February, I had some whole milk and added it to the jar to get a second generation of Piim채 started. The "normal" ratio would be 1 tablespoon of starter culture to 1 cup of milk; however, I simply added about 2 cups or so of milk into the jar, which probably had a little over 3/4 of a cup of cultured cream left in it. I stirred the resulting slurry thoroughly and put it out to culture at room temperature. After about 18 hours, I saw that the culture had definitely taken hold and set. The Piim채 appeared fairly thick again (probably due to so much extra starter), but it was floating on a good inch or so of whey that was not present with the first culture, where I had used only heavy cream. I put the jar into the refrigerator and will take a look at it ton; I suspect that the resulting Piim채 will be somewhere between my first attempt and where it should be for "proper" Piim채.

More at it happens, etc. & c....

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 February 2018 at 16:08
Originally posted by pitrow pitrow wrote:

It seems to my feeble brain that it shouldn't matter what you use to re-culture with, as the lactose would be provided by the new cream or milk, not the previous batches source. Though maybe they're referring to not being able to start and keep going with cream continuously. Perhaps if you made a batch with cream you'd need to do the next batch with milk to have enough lactose for the culturing to take place? I don't know. like I said, just a pondering out loud mostly.


I'm not sure, Mike - I've been thinking on it, and that passage in the instructions doesn't make too much sense. But, then again, my knowledge on the subject is still pretty shallow.

One thing I noticed is that the culture I made with cream had very, very little whey, if any; but when I re-cultured with milk, I got a pretty good amount of whey. MY understanding (And I could be wrong?) is that the why is where the lactose can be found.

We'll learn as we go, I guess!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 February 2018 at 09:45
Ron, yours is definitely a whole lot thicker than my filmj철lk is. I'm not sure if that's due to the difference in the culture or the cream. Mine would never be able to be spooned into that shape, it's very much a liquid with a few curds here and there. For kicks I will probably try a batch of the filmj철lk with cream to see what that does. I will probably also start a batch of piim채 at the same time and do a comparison.

Your thinking on the whey and lactose could be right, I really have no idea on that one. Time to do more research I guess.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 February 2018 at 09:42
Hi, Mike - the reason it was so thick is definitely the cream. I've made two new generations since then with whole milk, and both are very "liquidy," as they should be; in fact, it is now right about the consistency of heavy cream, itself. I plan to try 2% milk next time, and imagine it will thin out a bit more.

One thing that might be skewing my results is that I add the milk to more culture than necessary; rather than the "1 tablespoon of starter per cup of milk," I just kind of add a bunch of milk to the starter that is there when the level gets low. This could be as much as twice as much needed, or a little more. I am not sure if this affects the thickness of the final product or not; my untrained mind can make the argument both ways, at the moment.

The flavour is very good. I am not sure of any other words to describe it, other than the ones I've already used; however, this flavour has become more "developed" and "deeper." There really isn't any tanginess to it, like you expect from commercial yoghurt, but there is a very interesting quality that almost reminds me of brewed products, such as a good, full-bodied beer, or good-quality soy sauce. It doesn't actually taste like either of these, but it has that same "brewed" quality underneath everything, if that makes sense. I like it, quite a bit. perhaps it is what "real" buttermilk is supposed to taste like?

One note: in these succeeding generations, there are a few "flecks" that I assume are leftover from the fact that I started with cream and had an essentially different product. They look like very tiny bits of cream cheese, and taste about the same. My guess is that as succeeding generations of this culture go on, they will eventually disappear.

My conclusion regarding the whey we've been seeing is that it should indeed be worked back into the yoghurt before consumption, unless there is an out-of-the ordinary reason for wanting the yoghurt to be thicker than it is intended to be.

When you try this, let me know how it goes - this one is turning out to be very interesting, for sure.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 February 2018 at 10:50
My Piim채 continues to do very well. It has settled into the now-familiar thin consistency, with a few flecks of "butterfat," and it reminds me a lot of the "real" buttermilk that my grandmother would drink when I was a young child.

I like it a lot, on its own with no added ingredients, and intend to keep the culture going as long as I can.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 March 2018 at 16:37
Fascinating Ron ..

  
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