Want to avoid advertising?

Join as Premium member »

July 2015 Cookbook Roundup

Every month Jane and Fiona wade through hundreds of cookbooks, selecting and reviewing all the best new releases of U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand cookbooks. The only thing left for you to do is to add them to your Bookshelf.

USA

This month's offerings are a bit sparse, but several intriguing tomes compensate for the low volume. You'll find books from trusted sources as well as new voices, and although the number of books is small, healthy eating and doing good emerge as trends for July.

cookbook collageGood and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown: A cookbook filled with delicious, healthful recipes created for tight budgets features a strong charitable component: with every copy purchased, a second copy will be given to a person or family in need. High-profile chefs like Mark Bittman, Francis Lam, and Michael Pollan have taken note of the project.

Eat Mexico: Recipes and Stories from Mexico City's Streets, Markets and Fondas by Lesley Tellez: Eat Mexico is a self-described "culinary love letter" to one of the biggest cities in the world, where residents eat from sidewalk grills and stands, markets and casual restaurants. Americans may not recognize many of the book's food and may be pushed--deliciously--out of their comfort zones. Check out the book tour for Eat Mexico on our World Calendar of Cookbook Events.

The Barbecue Lover's Big Book of BBQ Sauces by Cheryl & Bill Jamison: These BBQ gurus know that the secret to great barbecue is in the sauce. Called the "king and queen of grilling and smoking" by Bon Appetit, the Jamisons are back with a book that distills decades of travel to the barbecue capitals of the world, plus countless hours perfecting their craft as they wrote award-winning books on outdoor cooking. The book includes sauces, marinades, mops, pastes, dry rubs and more, along with detailed instructions on using a recipe for smoking, grilling, or both.

Pierogi Love by Casey Barber: This tasty tribute to the pierogi takes a familiar wrapping and stuffs it with a host of unconventional, innovative, and decidedly non-traditional fillings. Featuring both sweet and savory recipes, the book features everything from the classic Polish cheddar and potato offerings to American-inspired Reuben pierogies and fried apple pie-rogies to worldly fillings like falafel and Nutella. 

cookbook collageJuly features three books from retail powerhouse Williams-Sonoma: Frozen Desserts, Luscious Fruit Desserts, and Burger Night by Kate McMillan. Frozen Desserts includes ideas for scoops, shakes, slushes, sundaes, sandwiches, special-occasion treats and accompaniments to these frozen concoctions.

Luscious Fruit Desserts features simple, seasonal recipes. Spring brings strawberry-rhubarb coffee cake; summer beats the heat with blueberry-cream cheese custard pie; fall's arrival is greeted with roasted grape tarlets; and winter's chill is abated with chocolate-banana bread pudding.

Burger Night is what you'd expect from a fancy burger book. In addition to basic beef burgers, the offerings include black bean, chicken, eggplant, falafel, lamb, and shrimp. Also included are sides like bistro fries, sweet potato wedges, and broccoli slaw.

The Cookbook for Children with Special Needs by Deborah French: Another cookbook with lofty goals, the cookbooks is based on the premise that learning to cook not only equips children with a valuable life skill, but will help boost self-esteem in other areas of their lives. Teachers, activity organisers and anyone else working with children with special needs may find this book to be a great resource for cooking inspiration.

UK

cookbook collageGame (River Cottage Handbook No. 15) by Tim MaddamsL The latest in the River Cottage series focuses on game, which can be a healthy and more nutritious alterative to traditional red meats. Here, Tim Maddams gives an accessible guide to obtaining, assessing, preparing and cooking game, including pheasant, grouse, venison, partridge, hare, rabbit, boar and duck.

From Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein: Accompanying the major BBC Two series, the cookbook includes recipes that Rick discovered during his travels in the region. Featuring dishes ranging from a mezze spread of baba ghanoush, pide bread, keftedes to a rich Dalmatian fresh fig tart, the book explores the cuisines of the Eastern Mediterranean. 

Marguerite Patten's Century of British Cooking: Marguerite Patten wrote more than 170 cookery books and introduced several generations to the ins and outs of the kitchen. She passed away in June, just 5 months short of her 100th birthday. In her honour Grub Street is reissuing a new edition of a book published by Marguerite back in 1999. In this book each chapter covers one decade of the 20th century giving both history and recipes.

Everything Sweet by The Meringue Girls: Alex Hoffler and Stacey O'Gorman followed their dream by quitting their 9 to 5 jobs a couple of years ago to embark on their own venture. They now own a bakery in Broadway Market with a staff of eight and also cater large events. The Meringue Girls bring bold tastes and whimsical styling to their inaugural cookbook.

cookbook collageSeaweed in the Kitchen by Fiona Bird: EYB Member Fiona Bird is nothing if not enthusiastic. She lives in the Hebrides and has written her own guide to foraging. In addition she is super-keen on teaching children to cook. Her second book combines these three elements: the Hebrides because seaweed runs amok there; foraging, because she lives in the midst of a natural larder; teaching, because she has written a fine set of intelligent and well-tested recipes.

The Great British Bake Off Celebrations by Linda Collister, Mary Berry & Paul Hollywood: Released just in advance of season six of the BBC series, this cookbook features recipes by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood and from last season's contestants. From show-stopping centerpieces to simpler cakes and slices, you'll find recipes to fit all occasions. 

In the Mood for Healthy Food by Jo Pratt: This cookbook aims for those who want to eat healthy but don't want to sacrifice flavor or variety. Pratt's recipes highlights healthy foods like nuts, sprouting beans & seeds, quinoa, kale and chia seeds, and includes information on why they are good for you and where to find them.

Chicken: Over Two Hundred Recipes Devoted to One Glorious Bird by Catherine Phipps: This book dives deep into one of the most versatile meats available. Phipps claims to have "every recipe for chicken that you will ever need" and for every The groundnut cookbookpossible cooking method -  fried, flambeed, roasted, barbecued, smoked, stewed, grilled, put in a sandwich or made into soup.

The Groundnut Cookbook by Duval Timothy, Jacob Fodio Todd and Folayemi Brown: This contemporary African cookbook is from the foodie trio behind the current London pop-up supperclub craze. Duval Timothy, Jacob Fodio Todd and Folayemi Brown aim to elevate awareness of African cuisine with their cookbook packed with full-colour photography and easy-to-follow, fresh and healthy recipes.

 

Australia & New Zealand

cookbook collageVegetables, Grains and Other Good Stuff by Simon Bryant: Following his successful book on Vegies, Simon introduces grains and pulses into the mix. Includes tips for getting the most from your ingredients including interesting flavour combinations, such as Fennel and star anise broth, Seaweed and blue cheese fondue and even Chocolate and lentil brownies. Recipes draw on influences from Japan to India, the Middle East to Mexico.

Turkish Fire by Sevtap Yüce: In her 3rd book on the cuisine of her homeland Sevtap cooks her way through the dishes that make Turkish cuisine great. From simple street food, to wood-fired breads, fresh salads and elaborate dishes.

Easy Home Cooking: Italian Style by Liliana Battle: Following her Australian MasterChef appearance Liliana set up her own spice mix range and in her first book she shares her love of the Italian food she grew up with.

The latest from Australian Women's Weekly:
The Family Table
Eating Well with Diabetes

Eat your way around the world with one cookbook

Mina HollandMina Holland is the editor of Guardian Cook and a food and drink writer. Travelling and living (and eating) abroad inspired her to write about what and why people eat as they do around the globe. You can follow her on Twitter @minaholland. Mina has graciously shared an excerpt from her recent cookbook, The World on a Plate (previously published in the UK as The Edible Atlas. Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy.)



As you leave Madrid on the train, a graying crinoline of the city suburb blends into a vast stretch of farmland on the horizon, where little happens save for the wind grazing the crops. Life is simple across most of Spain's Meseta (plateau), belying the sense of license you find in Madrid-where the political pulse and hedonistic heartbeat of Spain beat strongest.

Countless writers have evoked the big-skied bleakness of this countryside - stiflingly hot in summer, biting cold in winter - not to mention films like Bigas Luna's Jamón Jamón, in which a 1990s-washed Penélope Cruz is but a dot on the massive, dry, rolling horizon. The odd wooden bull - giant, painted black - crowns the occasional hill and reminds you of your Spanish whereabouts as the nondescript yellow landscape flashes past.

Central Spanish cuisine is noticeably less varied than elsewhere in the country. Seized from the Moors in 1492, this is a vast area that was governed by a small elite until relatively recently, limiting the scope of different foods available to the majority of people. Meat has traditionally been a luxury. Carnivorous delicacies include cochinillo (suckling pig), game (squab, quail, partridge, rabbit and wild boar, which sometimes congregate in a stew to be eaten alongside local flatbread made with chickpea flour) or baby lamb. Nevertheless, some of the products that most define Spanish flavors, such as pimentón and saffron, have their origins in central Spain. It is also a cuisine in which the lingering influence of the Moors and the Jews is clearly visible.

Though it is the largest city in Spain, Madrid is a small, compact place. The population of its metropolitan area (about 6.5 million) is roughly double that of the city center, which you can walk across in half an hour. In 2009, I lived just north of Fuencarral by Bilbao metro station, which I was virtually able to ignore, preferring to walk down through the bohemian nook of Malasaña to reach the center. My route took me along busy Gran Via, past the sad faces of girls waiting for business on Calle Montera, and the throbbing Plaza del Sol, where people protest and visitors flock. Beyond that: Plaza Santa ana, where street artists woo tourists; the big galleries of huertas; ever-sunny Retiro park and La Latina, where on Sunday the city's tapas culture comes out in full swing.

Small in size but endowed with a sense of endless possibility (I was frustrated only by an inability to find good hummus and my bra size), Madrid is a special place. Even amidst the din of noisy Spaniards and tourists, of boozy nights and traffic, you can find peace. And although I ended up making my own hummus (no hardship, really), Madrid boasts some of the best food in Spain. There is a huge appetite for Spanish regional cuisines, which is reflected on a Sunday amble down Calle de Cava Baja in La Latina. This little street becomes (unofficially) pedestrianized on a Sunday afternoon, when the tourists and locals alike hop between bars specializing in anything from Canarian to Galician and andalucían to Catalan cuisines.

You might expect that being so far inland would compromise the quality of its seafood. But the capital arguably has the best fish market in all of Spain, Mercado de San Miguel, where old faithfuls like gambas (prawns) and trucha (trout) convene with the more regional specialties like percebes (goose barnacles) and pulpo(octopus) of Galicia.

For all the great food that assembles there, however, Madrid doesn't have a lot to call its own. Cocido Madrileño is the exception: a slow-cooked stew using chickpeas, potatoes, several types of meat and sausage including chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), pork leg, beef brisket, jamón serrano and sometimes chicken. The dish is said to have originated with the Spanish Sephardic Jews and bears similarities to adafina, a slow-cooked stew for the Jewish Sabbath.

Jewish influences are everywhere in central and southern Spanish cuisine- from the use of chickpeas and eggplants to generous lashings of garlic and almonds, or honey in desserts. The food native to Madrid is similar to that found out on the Meseta: stews made with pulses and offcuts of meat, bread, Manchego sheep's cheese and jamón. Dishes from central Spain are guaranteed to please the lover of one-pot dishes: rustic flavors congregate in simple, warming cocidos or soups (as in Portugal, see page 76). If you understand the fundamental base ingredients - pimentón, garlic and salt - then these dishes are easy to replicate at home, or can simply be used as inspiration for meals cooked in a Spanish style. 



Zucchini Cream

This almost embarrassingly easy soup, the recipe for which comes from my friend Javi, can be whipped up very quickly as a starter before supper, or makes a good hearty lunch year-round. Use manchego cheese if you want to be authentic, though cheddar also works perfectly well.

SERVES 4 AS STARTER OR 2 AS A MAIN WITH BREAD 

2 large zucchini (about 11⁄8 lb), sliced thickly
1 leek, cut into chunks
1 large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 oz hard cheese, chopped or grated (about ½ cup)
1 1⁄3 tbsp butter
2⁄3 cup milk
extra virgin olive oil salt to taste

1 • Place the zucchini, leek and potato in a large pan and just cover them with water. Be careful not to add too much-2 cups should do it. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

2 • Remove from the heat and while the mixture is still hot, add the cheese, butter, milk and a large tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Blend to a creamy consistency and season with salt to taste before serving right away.

From The World on a Plate by Mina Holland, published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright by Mina Holland, 2015.

Cookbook giveaway - The World on a Plate

The World on a Plate

Eat your way around the world without leaving your home in a mouthwatering cultural history with The World on a Plate, the new cookbook from Mina Holland. (The book was previously published as The Edible Atlas in the UK. Read an excerpt from The World on a Plate, plus get a recipe from the book!)

The cookbook has received great acclaim, voted Best Culinary Travel Book (UK) by Gourmand World Cookbook Awards and named a finalist for the Fortnum & Mason Food Book Award.

We're delighted to offer 3 copies of The World on a Plate to Members in the US and 3 copies of The Edible Atlas to Members in the UK. The contest is limited to EYB Members in The Edible Atlasthe US & UK only. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post:

Which country's cuisine history most intrigues you?

Please note that you must be signed into the Rafflecopter contest before posting the comment or your entry won't be counted. Entries from non-Members will be discarded. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends August 19, 2015.

 

Who doesn't love a cookbook sale?

cookbooks

Have you been thinking about buying a cookbook but haven't followed through with your order yet? If so, this might make you take the plunge: The Book Depository is currently offering up to 33% off several bestselling food and drink books. There are plenty of titles available, including Pitt Cue Co. the Cookbook, Jane Grigson's Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery, Nigel Slater's Tender, Macarons by Pierre Hermé, and several Jamie Oliver books.

You need to hurry if you want to take advantage of this offer as it only lasts through Thursday, July 23. Stocking your Bookshelf is always fun, and when you buy through the Book Depository, they give EYB a small affiliate fee that contributes to our indexing fund. (To make sure we get this credit, navigate to a cookbook in the EYB Library, click the Buy book button and select The Book Depository.) What's more, The Book Depository has free international shipping. Separately each is a good reason to buy a new cookbook, but together they're almost irresistable. 

Cookbook store profile - Read It and Eat

This is the latest installment of the EYB feature highlighting independent cookbook stores. We hope you will discover (or get reacquainted with) a store near your home - or plan a new target destination when you travel. We keep an ongoing list of cookbook stores but we'd love to learn about more - especially those treasured by our members. So please share the names of independent cookbook stores that you know, love, admire, or are just plain crazy about. Add a comment to this posting, or email us at info@eatyourbooks.com with the name, address, and owner (if you know it). We'll do the rest.

Read It & Eat cookbook store

With all of the sad news in the past few years about long-standing cookbook stores closing their doors, it's refreshing to see new ones opening, like Read It & Eat, a new cookbook store located in Chicago, Illinois. Read It & Eat is dedicated to providing food lovers with exceptional culinary experiences through carefully selected books, classes and discussions. Owner Esther Dairiam recently answered our questions about the new store:

This is the first cookbook store in Chicago. What made you decide there was a market there?

While Read It & Eat is currently Chicago's only cookbook store, we are technically not the first. There was a cookbook store which closed about 20 years ago and I believe that they were also located in Lincoln Park. I ran informal focus groups to find out if there was an interest in a concept like Read It & Eat and 90% of the people that I spoke with indicated yes. My research also indicate that the concept appealed to a wide range of demographics and characteristic (age, gender, marital status, kids/no kids, cooking skills, income level etc.).

What is your own background with cookbooks?

My background in cookbooks is what I learnt while researching the business and the everyday learnings from running and managing the store.

Will the store specialize in any areas of cookbooks?

We have a very wide selection of categories and we are currently only selling new books. We are beginning to see some trends; our baking, chefs & restaurants, references, biographies and memoirs categories are big sellers for us. As we progress, we will start to refine our collection based on what we see our customers are interested in.

What events will you be offering in the store?

We offer both author and non-author events (check out the World Calendar of Cookbook Events for more information). Author events include demos and book signings. Our non-author events include dinners hosted by local chefs and cooking classes and demos. All our non-author events will still tie back to a book. For example, we have a cooking class in August and we are using April Bloomfield's A Girl And Her Greens for inspiration. We also have a cookbook club that meets monthly.

Will you be importing any books from overseas?

I am researching that right now. I plan to attend the Frankfurt bookfair in October (the Cookbook Fair organized by Gourmand Internal is now part of that) to learn more about international titles.

I know you have not been open for long, but what are your bestsellers so far?

Our best selling categories are baking, chefs & restaurants, references, biographies and memoirs sections.

Are many of your customers professional chefs? What are the books that they are buying now?

Yes, we do have quite a few professional chefs. They are really buying from varying categories, including chefs and restaurants, business, references breakfast, meat / game / poultry.

What type of books do you like to cook from yourself? Do you have a favorite cookbook of all time?

I like to cook from books that teach you something about the ingredients, e.g., Nigel Slater's Tender describes the variety of each type of vegetable, when best to buy and what to look for. I don't have an all-time favorite; I tend to rotate based on what I am doing at that time. For example, right now, I am trying to incorporate more vegetables in my diet and am cooking a lot from Tender and Vegetables From An Italian Garden from Phaidon.

We also have a cookbook club that meets monthly to discuss books, recipes and techniques while enjoying a meal together.

Get more out of your waffle iron

waffle iron hash browns

You might have a waffle iron languishing in the back of your cupboard that you dig out  a few times a year to make waffles. But it doesn't have to be hidden away in between those Sunday brunches: there are gobs of recipes that make excellent use of the waffle iron. It's not that surprising if you think about it; a waffle iron is a lot like a panini press or griddle.

What makes waffle irons even better, in some cases, than those appliances is the amount of surface area. By utilizing those offset squares, you are assured of more crunchy bits to complement the chewy pieces of whatever food you put into it.

You don't have to look far to find interesting recipes. Food Network features 12 recipes you didn't know you could make in a waffle maker, including a waffled pizza. And whether or not it is good, waffled falafel is fun to say. Indexed blog Serious Eats shows us how to elevate leftovers with a waffle iron, In addition. Serious Eats features 39 delicious waffle recipes, including Waffled miso-sesame tofu with waffled sticky rice.

There are also entire books on the subject of expanding your waffle maker's repertoire, including Will it Waffle?: 53 Irresistible and Unexpected Recipes to Make in a Waffle Iron by Daniel Shumski and an oldie-but-goodie from Dorie Greenspan titled Waffles from Morning to Midnight.

Photo of Waffle-iron hash browns from  Serious Eats by Daniel Shumski

The interesting cultural history of vanilla

 vanilla beans

When something is bland, it's often dismissed as being "plain vanilla." But as NPR Food shows us, the history behind vanilla is anything but boring. They explore the origins of vanilla bean cultivation and its traditional uses.

Vanilla comes from the Totonac Indians in what's now Mexico. In addition to using them for medicine, the Totonac used the beans as their required tribute to the Aztecs. The Aztecs were the first to use vanilla beans for flavoring. They mixed them with other things, including cacao in their chocolate drink (which was not sweetened). 

When Europeans were first exposed to vanilla, they went wild for the flavor, thanks in part to proselytizing by Queen Elizabeth I. This increased popularity caused a problem, because no one knew how to cultivate or efficiently process vanilla beans. That is because the beans "are nestled in pods that grow on gnarly vines that can get as long as 350 feet and have orchids that you might expect to see in a flower shop."

An enterprising 12-year-old black slave, Edmond Albius, was the first to understand how to make the process work. Albius "discovered that the vanilla plant could be pollinated by hand using a blade of grass or a swipe of a thumb. It was effective if labor-intensive, but once people understood how to pollinate the plants, vanilla as a flavor became more accessible.

Photo of How to split a vanilla pod from  Great British Chefs - Chef Recipes

Featured Cookbooks & Recipes

Did you know adding online recipes to your EYB Bookshelf is a really great way to build your personal recipe collection? You can now do this even if you have a free membership!

Try it out now and see how easy it is. Browse the recipes below, choose one that appeals, click on the link, and add it to your Bookshelf. (Make sure that you are signed in first.)

All the recipes we feature in these weekly round-ups have online links so you can add any of them to your Bookshelf. Happy cooking & baking everyone!
From AUS/NZ books:

19 recipes from OMG! I Can Eat That?: Indulgent Food Minus the Boombah by Jane Kennedy,
indexed by an EYB member


From Canadian books:

115 recipes from Canadian Living: The Vegetarian Collection: Creative Meat-Free Dishes That Nourish and Inspire by Alison Kent & The Canadian Living Test Kitchen,
indexed by an EYB member

 

Me and my cookbooks - Sarah Hodge

Sarah HodgeWe're pleased to present another installment of the "Me and my cookbooks" series. Many EYB members have told us they enjoy meeting members and special guests through this feature. We'd love to introduce more people, so if you'd like to be featured, just email us at info@eatyourbooks.com.


EYB Member Sarah Hodge boasts an impressive cookbook collection. Even more impressive is the energy Sarah exudes about her hobby. She tells us about her favorite cookbooks and her blog featuring cookbook reviews:

I currently teach and write for a living, but reviewing and collecting cookbooks is my real passion. In addition to being an Amazon.com Top Reviewer and Vine Voice, I am a member of Blogging for Books and NetGalley as well as a guest cookbook reviewer for several websites including Mediterranean Livings. I greatly enjoy testing and photographing recipes and introducing my readers to cookbook authors and cuisines that may be less familiar. Through social media, I've been able to connect with like-minded cookbook lovers around the globe and have made many new online friends who enjoy collecting and sharing their favorite cookbooks as much as I do. In late 2014, I launched my blog Bundt Lust as a place to share my cookbook reviews with a wider audience and use my other social media feeds on Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram to promote new titles, share cookbook giveaways, and pin recipes that catch my eye.

When I moved cross-country in 2006 after finishing grad school, I had only a few cookbooks to my name (including a Spanish-language one I'd purchased while studying abroad). After settling in, I began to collect cookbooks that appealed to me. At first, I wasn't very discriminating and purchased mostly bargain titles. As time went on, I became more selective about the types of cookbooks I was looking for, and enjoyed the pursuit of rare and out-of-print titles like Please to the Table  and Mama Nazima's Jewish Iraqi Cuisine.

My collection currently numbers at about 350 and I specialize in Jewish (particularly Sephardic) cookbooks, Japanese and Taiwanese vegetarian cuisine, monastery cookbooks, heirloom cookbooks, Middle Eastern / Mediterranean cuisine, Junior League cookbooks, Impressionist art-inspired cookbooks, and baking books. Some of my favorites are fundraiser cookbooks by local museums and organizations, including Just Plane Delicious from the San Diego Air and Space Museum, FCSLA Slovak-American Cookbook, Taiwanese Homestyle Cooking and the Senshin Buddhist Temple Cookbook.

As I frequently travel for work and pleasure (I've lived in five countries and have visited several more), I love collecting local cookbooks from my various journeys. In addition to English, my cookbook collection features cookbooks in Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, and Chinese and is spread across six bookshelves arranged by cuisine / region. EYB is my first destination to research new and unusual cookbook releases from around the globe, and I enjoy acquiring hard-to-find overseas titles like this year's IACP-nominatedCyprus: A Culinary Journey (so far, I'm the only EYB member who has this on their Bookshelf!). Other recent acquisitions include Anatolia, Gino's Veg Italia and the Honey and Co: Baking Book from the UK.

My other passion in addition to collecting cookbooks is taking hands-on cooking and baking classes both at home and abroad. I've taken more than 80 cooking classes in the United States, France, Japan and Taiwan focusing on everything from classic croissants in Montmartre, Turkish cuisine with Ozlem Warren of Ozlem's Turkish Table, Japanese vegan cuisine with Elizabeth Andoh (author of Washoku and Kansha) and Taiwanese steamed buns and desserts with a local cookbook author and cooking expert. It's a fantastic way to learn about local food and culture while meeting other international travelers, plus I can share my newfound culinary knowledge with friends and family once I'm back home.

Eat Your Books has been a tremendous resource that I love being a part of -- I was honored that my blog's "Best of 2014" roundup was included in last year's EYB feature, plus I have been fortunate enough to win several cookbook giveaways. I love being a member of such a vibrant group of cookbook collectors and I look forward to learning and growing with the EYB community!

How does yogurt culture get made?

Yogurt

Many EYB Members likely enjoy making homemade yogurt. Most start with commercial yogurt culture, either from store-bought yogurt or from packets of starter purchased from a cheese making supplier. But where do those companies get their culture? NPR Food has the answer

If you're a home yogurt enthusiast, you already know that sometimes just using a bit of the previous batch of yogurt to make the next batch leads to inconsistent results. That's why commercial yogurt makers rely on microbe manufacturers.   Despite the mind-boggling array of new yogurts that have hit store shelves within the past two years, they all share the same basic makeup. Under US law, anything labeled as "yogurt" must be contain "a few common ingredients: milk, of course, plus two species of bacteria called Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus."

That's where the microbe manufacturers step in, creating custom bacteria blends to tweak the flavor. You may have seen the term "probiotic" on yogurt labels, but even though these additional bacteria are often added by manufacturers, most of the flavor comes from the two species mentioned above. Even though there are only two basic strains, each contains plenty of variation within the species, "just as there's immense variation within our species, Homo sapiens. Some of these little creatures gobble up lactose faster than others; some release more of that sour, tangy flavor." Each company closely guards its custom blend.

You might think about trying an "heirloom" strain to create new (or recreate old) flavors, but you are unlikely to find one. Even though you can find advertisements claiming to have special strains, most of them can likely be traced to commercial yogurt and the strains created by the microbe manufacturers.

Photo of How to make yogurt at home  from The Kitchn

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!

Archives