Tokyogurt: Part One – New Beginnings

This is, obviously, a bit of a different topic than my normal travel related updates, but I wanted to write in this blog a bit more often. My primary motivation is simply that I think I should write more than I do in general – too much consumption, not enough generation.

Most of my early yogurt making memories come from my Mom. She used (maybe still uses?) quart jars filled with milk and put under a towel with a heating pad (the type you use for a sore back) underneath the jars. From what I remember this always worked really well. I actually wonder now why we didn’t do this all the time, I feel like it was a “few times a year” thing.

I actually can’t remember the first time I made yogurt myself. It was probably either in college in my first apartment living with Nick and Kevin, or it might have been in Wisconsin Rapids in my first real solo-apartment. Or maybe even in Lindsay and my first apartment in Grand Rapids post-college. Honestly I don’t remember. What I do remember for sure though is maybe 6 or 7 years ago living in Chicago I got slightly more serious about making yogurt and testing out different techniques. I tried different starter cultures, different incubation methods (e.g. sous vide vs crock pot), scalded vs unscaled, different milks. Strained vs unstrained. Etc. Unfortunately I remember very little about these techniques besides I remember that there was somewhat of a fine line between straining yogurt to the point of greek yogurt vs spreadable paste.

Here is a random video I found from Chicago in which I am showing how thick this yogurt is. It’s not important.

(VERY slightly interesting aside it turns out I have a fork from this same set of silverware here in Japan:

which sort of hit me a second ago because it’s a very unexpected through-line between my life 8ish years ago and my life here in Japan. I should probably throw these forks away before they develop some sort of meaning to me or are a physical representation of my 30s or something.)

OK, back to yogurt.

I like yogurt, and I like making things. I don’t have much space at home here in Japan but I do have space to make yogurt. I think the main reason I’ve decided to experiment with yogurt making here is because in general I really like the milk in Japan. Hokkaido is known for their milk and dairy in general and there are a surprising number of options for milk and yogurt at most grocery stores.


I decided to start the yogurt journey here by attempting to ferment the yogurt under our cheap ニトリ kotatsu.

I used the entire liter of milk and about a quarter of the yogurt container (which is quite a lot), and I fermented for around 12 hours (a long time)


Tonkotsu Ramen Attempt One: Not Very Porky

Well, a small break from the past year of travel style blog posts.

While traveling through Japan, Lindsay and I really fell in love with Ramen and decided that on the top of the “things to do when we’re home” bucket list we’d put “make real-ass ramen.” I want to take a second to point out that this was very much a team effort, though I may have spent a bit more time reading/researching/asking questions about what recipe to follow, which steps to follow, etc. But the point is, this was a team activity, even if I don’t write it up as such.