HOME-MADE PISTACHIO YOGHURT (V+, R, P, GF, GrF)

Sometimes all your stars align, destiny firmly grabs hold of the steering wheel and you are lead in one direction and one direction alone. Guess what? That’s exactly what happened with me and this pistachio yoghurt. Personally, I even think the pistachio yoghurt fairies were calling my name super loudly cuz this yoghurt just had to happen and this is the story of how everything came about:

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Event 1: A few months ago I had been told about this magnificent book called The Art of Fermentation. And ever since that day I had been lusting over it. And then, after weeks of contemplating, I took the plunge and bought it! (I contemplated because I buy WAY too many books and do need to reign myself in, you see).

But then it arrived and, well, I was kinda disappointed slash completely terrified. It had no pictures in it to speak of and a ‘cookbook’ without images isn’t something I am normally drawn to. And MAN was it thick and heavy and massive with lots and lots and lots of text. How was I ever going to get through that?! So it sat in the corner, quite sadly, batting its pages flirtatiously every time I passed it. But I point blank ignored it. And then one day I just picked it up by sheer chance, flicked through it, dared to read a chapter and … now I am hooked.

So what’s it about? I have only just scratched the surface of this epic masterpiece but essentially it’s all about us modern folk not being frightened of trying something new and going out there and fermenting the hell out of everything and anything. Why would we do that? Because fermented foods are true superfoods (find out why here) without the commercial superfood price tag. They are nourishing, they are ancient and they are part of the story of human evolution. BANG! Powerful, huh!? So reading it made me feel really grounded and bold and strong. And I knew right there and then – without a speckle of a doubt - where I wanted to start my fermentation journey: with YOGHURT!!!!

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Event 2:
As I was delving into said book, I looked up from the pages to catch a glimpse of the computer screen and saw the most stunning blog entry – Princess Tofu ‘s post about vegan pistachio jelly. WOW! Those pictures made my jaw drop; the idea of making pistachio milk and converting it into jelly – out of this world! Genius!

Event 3: Then everything slotted into place and something just clicked – fermentation, yoghurt and pistachio milk...AHA, pistachio yoghurt. Of course. I mean, does it GET any more luscious than pistachio yoghurt (in Chandler Bing’s voice please)? No, didn’t think so either.

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IMPORTANT:
Please do try this at home and check out the important tips at the end of the recipe!

Preparation Time: 20 minutes hulling (or buy hulled to save time!)
Soaking and Chilling Time: 8 hours or overnight
Fermentation Time: 24 – 48 hours
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
150g/1.5 cups hulled (raw) (organic) pistachios (see tips for details)
1-2 pitted medjool date(s)
240ml – 360ml/2 – 2.5 cups filtered, non-chlorinated, distilled or spring water (see tips for details)
Content of 1 probiotic capsule (optional, see tips for further details)
Seasonal fruit (optional)
A drizzle of (organic) honey (optional)
A sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

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Instructions:
Hull the pistachios, place in a container and soak in water 8 hours or, as I did, overnight. Place the container with the pistachios in a cool place. As I made this during the height of summer, I placed the container in the fridge.

Then, drain, rinse, and blend the soaked pistachios with 2- 2.5 cups of distilled/non-chlorinated/spring water and 1-2 medjool date(s) in a blender until smooth. I used a vitamix to get a super smooth texture, but any blender will do.

Once smooth place the blended pistachios in a glass container and pour in the content of 1 probiotic capsule. Mix with a wooden spoon and cover the container with a cloth and place it in a dark place, out of direct sunlight. Stir occasionally with the wooden spoon. After 24-48 hours, try the yoghurt for tanginess. Once you are happy with the result, place the glass container in fridge and enjoy. The yoghurt will keep for about 2-3 days.

Tip 1: WATER QUALITY: I used tap water in the original recipe which isn’t ideal as it can hinder the fermentation process. But I was keen to see if it could be done with just basic water, you know the stuff that's available to us mere mortals, who don't have distilled water on tap. The good news is, it is. In fact, as a test I used bottled spring water during my second yoghurt making experiment and the result/taste was exactly the same. The trick is to let the tap water sit for 24 hours so the chlorine can evaporate. Simples. 

Tip 2: SUGAR: I used dates as the sugars (as I understand it) aid the fermentation process and give the yoghurt a lovely taste without being too sweet (I used just 1). However, you do not need a sweetener and/or you can add the date after you have fermented the yoghurt. I tried to ferment without the sugars of the date and the result was the same as when I blended the date in before starting the fermentation process.

Tip 3: WATER QUANTITY: I used 2 cups of water and I think this is the best way to start. It creates a really creamy, rich texture and if you want it a little bit more watery, you can always add another ½ a cup of water afterwards! I have tried different methods and a 1(nuts):2(water) ratio works best. When I made it too watery, the yoghurt split and smelled awful. So I'm sticking to what works and passing the tips onto you.

Tip 4: PISTACHIO NUTS: There are more nutrients in raw pistachios and so, if you can find them and afford them, buy them raw. However, for the pictures I used roasted (no salt) and the yoghurt came out lovely. As a test I compared it to the yoghurt I made later, using raw nuts and there was no noticible difference in taste. The only difference was that the roated nuts float when you soak them and the raw ones sink. The things ya learn.

Tip 5: TOOLS: Please stir using a wooden spoon as the bacteria needed for fermenting your food, from what I gather, don't like metal.

Tips 6: CAPSULE: Please don't be put off trying this because you need to buy probiotics. They are super easy to get hold of via the internet or from the health food store. 

Top with… seasonal fruit, spices, honey etc. and turn it into a lovely, filling breakfast.

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