This post is about breast milk, babies, and itchy breasts. If you don't have some combination of the aforementioned, you're probably going to want to skip this post, because it's not going to do anything but gross you right out. Back in July, the baby and I had Thrush. This is a fantastic condition that causes white patches in the baby's mouth and on his tongue, and it infects the breasts as well, making them itch like mad. It's actually a yeast infection and is usually passed back and forth between mom and baby, so it must be treated. The baby continues to nurse during the treatment, but any pumped milk cannot be frozen and later given in a bottle or sippy, because Thrush survives the freeze/thaw, and it will re-infect the baby.
I was already on a pump schedule, and had been for months, in order to build my freezer stash. I continued to pump during our lovely experience with Trush, because changing the schedule would have caused a drop in production. At first I was just pumping and dumping, but then the pediatrician told me that Thrush doesn't survive heating, so I could go ahead and freeze it and save it for cooking when he started solids.
We had a rough night several weeks ago, and in a sleep deprived state, at two in the morning, I started wondering if I could make yogurt out of breast milk. I stated on FaceBook that one of the things I wondered about at 2:00 a.m. was whether or not I could make breast milk yogurt, and an awesome friend pointed me at this recipe. I started researching and looking around to see if other people had done this and what the opinions and different methods were. What I mostly found where a bunch of lectures on how making breast milk yogurt was stupid because heating breast milk kills all the good things in it.
So excuse me while I go on a tangent here, but no, it does not. Heating breast milk does indeed kill the white blood cells. No argument there. However, heating it does not "kill all the good things in it." Even pasteurized breast milk is better than formula or cow's milk. This isn't a breast feeding versus formula feeding versus dairy debate though. It's simply facts about how cooking with breast milk does not, in fact, negate ALL the good of breast milk. Here's the nutritional composition of breast milk, made simple. Here's an in-depth if you care to read it. Anyway, my point is that while you do indeed lose SOME of the benefits of breast milk when you heat it, you certainly don't lose them all. You don't even lose most of them. The fats, the carbs, the proteins, the vitamins are all still there. Does cooking your beans make the protein go away? There's the answer, right there. Let us not forget the fact that it's human milk, and I wanted to turn it into a treat for a human baby. Alright, I'm stepping off of my soapbox now.
The recipe my friend linked me was the best of the very few I found out there, so my recipe is a combination of her recipe and my own, coupled with experiences and methodology learned while making soy yogurt in my crock pot (and I should probably post that recipe, because it's so easy and time saving!). Every now and then I think I've reached the pinnacle of my hippie-ness only to surprise myself and go beyond. I think this might be it though. I have produced yogurt from breast milk. I may have reached the epitome of hippie-dom!
Breast Milk Yogurt
- Breast Milk
- Yogurt Starter
- Thickening Agent (if desired)
1. Heat breast milk in medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. If you have a candy thermometer, heat it to 185 degrees. I don't have have one, so I heated it until little bubbles formed around the edges but it was NOT boiling.
2. Cool to about 112 degrees. Again, if you don't have a thermometer, cool until you can comfortably stick your finger in it without scalding yourself. Please tell me that I don't need to tell you to wash your hands!
3. Add your yogurt starter. You can buy it in powder form at Whole Foods, or you can just use 2 TBSP of regular plain yogurt with live active cultures. This is what I did.
4. If using, add your thickening agent. I used one, because we eat Greek yogurt here, and I didn't want him to be put off by the texture of a thinner yogurt.
You have several choices here. You can use tapioca starch, corn starch (if you are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that baby isn't allergic), or plain powdered gelatin. How much you use depends on how much milk you started with and how thick you want your end product to be. You're going to have to play it by ear here. I used a bit over a teaspoon of tapioca starch.
Sprinkle it over the top and then gently whisk all ingredients together.
5. Pour your mixture into a WARMED Pyrex dish with a lid. You could also use canning jars or even a glass pitcher, but it needs to be glass and it needs to have a lid, and it needs to be warm. I warmed mine by pouring boiling water into it, then dumping it out and drying it.
6. Place your milk mix into a small cooler and pour really hot water in around it. I boiled a tea kettle full of water to use. This made sure it was darned hot, and it gave me a handy spout to make the pouring so much easier. Pour the water up to the rim of your container, but make sure it does not go over the top.
7. Cover your cooler almost completely with a large thick towel. I warmed mine in the dryer first.
8. Now, don't mess with the cooler except to change the water one time, about halfway through. I change my water at 4.5 hours, and then I went to bed.
9. The longer you leave it, the thicker and tarter it will be, so incubate according to your baby's tastes. We let ours go for a bit over 12 hours.
10. Store in refrigerator and add any flavors AFTER the yogurt is done.
This bowl has 1/4 of a mashed banana, a splash of vanilla extract, and some powdered ginger.
The flavor possibilities are endless. We've had banana ginger, apple cinnamon, mashed blueberry, and pumpkin allspice. He loves them all.
I couldn't shovel it in there fast enough!