Viili and Fil Mjolk are considered room temperature yoghurt cultures. In that you do not need a yoghurt maker or insulator to make them, rather you can culture them at room temperature. Very awesome. They probably aren't actually yoghurt in the true sense of the word, but English does not seem to have a word for this and it beats calling them 'cultured milk products' every time. The taste and texture is also like yoghurt, so we call them that on the basis that they share the same qualities.
The Viili is yummy and tastes a lot like The Captain remembers real yoghurt tasting like, but it's tricky to culture. It takes a lot longer than Fil Mjolk, is fussy about temperature, and it requires you monitor it frequently and not miss the point where it sets - that's a bit more bother than I like in a fermented food.
What I demand from a fermented food (and just about every food) is that it be flexible. That it is quick to prepare and can be put on hold if something happens. That it can grow in just about any temperature range, with the understanding that there may be an alteration in flavour and timing. That it can be used to make several different things, and that if I'm suddenly called away and miss the deadline, it will happily wait for me. Fil Mjolk does all this for me.
I'm going to keep going with the Viili, but more as a snacking yoghurt than anything else. The Viili is flexible in that I can use it to make a drink, yoghurt, and two different cheese (with whey left over for other uses). I can do all this with the Fil Mjolk as well as making butter, buttermilk and buttermilk cheese. But the taste between the two is very different. Each has it's unique charm.
Here are some of the amazing things I've made with my Fil Mjolk (and sometimes Viili).
Yoghurt drink (Viili and Fil Mjolk)
I haven't tried this yet, not on purpose anyway, but by culturing a low fat milk, or not letting the culture work long enough, I ended up with a thick liquid. Soon, I want to try blending this with fresh fruit for a yoghurt drink.
Yoghurt (Viili and Fil Mjolk)
This is pretty easy, you start with one Tbs of the old batch per cup of milk in the new batch. Mix well, cover with a cloth, and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours till set. Put in fridge for 6 hours before removing starter for next batch and enjoying the rest. At least that's what the instructions say, and it works well for the Viili.
For the Fil Mjolk, I find I only really need 1 teaspoon of starter (old batch) per cup of milk. Adding less, takes longer to go firm, but it has two advantages: It's less sensitive to timing, and it makes a lovely sour taste.
For a thicker yoghurt, use cream, for a thinner yoghurt, use milk.
Yoghurt cheese (left out method) with live culture whey (Viili and Fil Mjolk)This is easy, and I discovered it by mistake. I forgot that I had some yoghurt culturing, and when I found it two days later, it had distinct curds and whey (it had clabbered, what a great word, clabber). I used some cheesecloth to strain the curds four about 12 hours, then I mixed a pinch of salt (per 2 cups of yoghurt used) in with the curds. It made an almost creamy cheese, with a bit of sour taste like cottage cheese.
The whey from this is fantastic. It has live culture in it, which can be used to add probiotics to your food.
Yoghurt cheese (cooked method) with cooked whey (Viili and Fil Mjolk)
To make this cheese, I heat up the yoghurt in a pan, stirring frequently. Forget the thermometer. If it boils, it's too hot, if you see the yoghurt curdle, then it's hot enough. I strained this for 18 hours, or for a night and a morning, then mixed a pinch of salt (per two cups of yoghurt used) in with the curds. It made a fantastic cream cheese that would be great savoury or sweet. I think I might make a cheese cake for christmas using this.
The whey from this is cooked, not live culture, but it's still jam packed full of nutrients. Use it in soups, bread, and anywhere else to substitute some or all of the water in a recipe.
Cultured Butter and Buttermilk (Fil Mjolk)
I've posted the instructions for regular and cultured butter here. I'm surprised how easy it is to make, and I adore how it tastes. I wait for the cream to be on sale at $1.99 per litre, then I buy them out. The milk usually expires in one or two days, so culturing it helps the butter last longer.
Per litre of cream I get one pound of butter and half a litre of buttermilk, which can be used to make cheese and whey, or used as is in baking and cooking and drinking.
So far I've only tried it with Fil Mjolk. I don't know if it would work with Viili, or if it did, if the taste would be good. One day I'll give it a try.
Buttermilk Cheese and resulting whey (Fil Mjolk)Made the same way as Yoghurt Cheese (cooked method) above, but use the leftover buttermilk from making butter. Can be made with buttermilk made with uncultured butter, but you may want to leave this buttermilk at room temperature for about 24 hours before hand to sour it.
Update: Tried this yesterday. It didn't make as much cheese as I would like, but I don't think I heated it up enough. Taste is good and now I have some whey for bread baking tomorrow.
Did you notice how I avoided using quantities to tell you how it's made? You don't need it, just the ratios. So many recipes require gallons of milk and to be frank, most people don't want to make that large a batch. You can make butter with half a cup of cream, or with 18 gallons, the method and ratios are the same. Same with the yoghurt cheese. If you have one cup of yoghurt that's been in the fridge too long, then use that, if you have more, then use that. Salt to taste, but use at least one pinch per cup of finished cheese for preservation. Or eat it faster and leave out the salt all together.
These are recipes for everyone. They don't need fancy equipment or knowhow. The only knowhow you need is to tell thick from thin, how to stir, and for the cheese to tell when milk curdles (it gets lumps in it). They are very forgiving if you get the measurements wrong, and the Fil Mjolk is kind enough to work in a wide range of temperature (65 F to 75F).
So is this affordable? Oh yes! It's a great way to take advantage of about-to-expire-therefore-on-sale milk and cream. When I do this, it ends up costing about 1/4 the price of buying the already made products in the store. And I know exactly what goes in making this, so know how healthy it is.
Allergies: Well, you always have milk allergies to think about, however let me share something with you. I've always been sensitive to milk, since I was a couple of months old, especially cow's milk. And yet, on occasion, in some parts of the world, and only specific brands of milk, I can enjoy milk products with no negative effect whatsoever. I don't know if it's something they feed (or don't feed) their cows, but I suspect it's something in the pasteurization process. The organic milk from Avalon Dairy is one of those milks I can have no problem. Their non-organic products have some effect, but when cultured with Fil Mjolk or Viili, they don't bother my gut either.
I suspect, that it may be possible, that some people with milk sensitivities will be able to enjoy milk products made with traditional milk cultures. Maybe they can eat cultured butter but not regular butter. But each person is different and if you do give it try, let me know how it turns out.
Transitional: So basically, these are easy to make, more affordable than the commercially made products, less wasteful than said products, and more variety than said products. On top of that, you have the probiotics from the yoghurt cultures. This is an excellent way to transition from dependence on big buisness.