I invented a thing, at least I think I did. There is no short way to describe it, so it gets a blog post.
I use a lot of essential oils in my soap varieties because I like things that smell nice and I like creating combinations of colours and scents and names in my soaps. But not everyone likes a scented soap, and some essential oils are contra-indicated in pregnancy or can cause irritation in some people. So I wanted to make sure that anyone who prefers not to use essential oil soap has plenty to choose from as well.
My soaps are made with 25% whole raw goat milk. I had heard that yogurt was great in soap, and had that in mind to try. I know many soapers use tea in their soaps as well, and green tea in particular is said to be great for the skin.
I don’t know how I got the idea to combine milk, yogurt and green tea in a sort of perfect storm of soap liquids.
It starts like this. The milk needs to be heated to 90 degrees and then cooled so that the yogurt culture can digest the proteins. During this heating and cooling I infused the milk with regular green tea.
The next step was to wait 12 hours for the culture to do its work, then measure the yogurt into containers and freeze it.
After that all that remained was to make soap, substituting my usual 450g of milk for 450g of yogurt. I wasn’t sure what colour I would end up with, so I decided to add a 10% green mica swirl so that if it came out very pale I would be able to easily distinguish the yogurt soap from plain milk soap.
Everything went fine… until I started adding the lye to the yogurt. Then this happened…
It started to turn a nasty orange. Thin, with lumps. It reminded me of some of the worst nappies I have ever changed. I thought ‘What on earth have I done?!’
Even with the lye fully dissolved and the yogurt completely melted it still looked nasty.
For comparison, here is the plain milk and lye mix from today’s batch of citrus EO soap…
The oils were ready… the stick blender was on standby… I decided to press on. I mixed it all together and it started to look less like dysentery and more like soap.
I separated 200g and added the mica colouring with a bit of olive oil, then poured the soap into the mould. A little bit of artistic fiddling and it was starting to look okay.
The first batch I made was in the loaf moulds. I chose this soap to try out my new slab mould knowing that in spite of the scary vomit phase, it is a fairly well-behaved recipe. It moves slowly, so it doesn’t get too thick to pour before you’ve got the colours mixed, and it is runny enough to give good concentric circles when you pour the colours alternately in the middle of the mould. It sets up fairly quickly once it starts to cool and doesn’t overheat easily, giving you time to get the pattern done and get it into the freezer. It hardens fairly quickly too, allowing you to unmould it (and cut it if done in a loaf mould) the day it is made to see how the swirl worked on each individual soap.
There are a few different ways of getting yogurt into a soap, some soapers use it unfrozen as all or part of the liquid, some simply add a couple of tablespoons to the mix at trace. I like this method of switching all the liquid for yogurt, as it maximises the amount of yogurt and green tea in each bar, while maintaining a 25% milk content.
In use I found it very cleansing, giving a really clean feeling in the shower. I expected it to be a little drying as a result, but it actually leaves that fresh, dewy feeling on your skin, similar to the super-moisturising avocado soap Holy Guacamole, but without that slightly oily undertone that comes from the high avocado oil content. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, and is said to be detoxifying and hydrating, which is certainly the impression I got from using this soap. Yogurt is claimed to be almost a cure-all when applied topically, and although the cultures probably don’t survive the saponification process, the lactic acid and other fatty acids found in goat milk are also great for the skin.
It will be sold as simply GTGMY, short for green tea goat milk yogurt. I think every aspect of the process is equally important and should be included in the title. Some customers who have bought the early release are already referring to it as ‘the yogurt soap’, but it it is GTGMY to me.