Sunday, April 1, 2012

Yogurt Part 2: Homemade Success

My first attempt at homemade yogurt was not successful.  I followed the less-than-specific advice of several bloggers to "keep the yogurt warm."  None specified a temperature, simply stating that wrapping your yogurt pot in towels and setting it in a warm place was enough.  I did that, putting the pot in a warm water bath under a heater turned up the hottest it would go.  Nothing happened.

As it turns out, "warm" is actually supposed to be "hot."  Anywhere from 110-150 degrees Fahrenheit is best.  This time, I put my yogurt in two class jars in a water bath on the stove.  I turned the heat on as low as I could, and turned it off periodically, when the water started to get too hot.  This was a little more involved than I was planning on being, but not too overwhelming.  It just means checking ever hour and a half or so.

Checking the yogurt (since I used non-homogenized milk, the darker layer on the top is cream!)-and oops, check out the camera strap...

So here's how I made my yogurt (and how you can too!)

*Everything needs to be super-clean; wash in really hot water and soap and then boil to sterilize*
-1 stainless-steel spoon
-1 small stainless-steel pot
-1 large stainless-steel pot
-1 or two glass jars with lids
-1 towel or other clean piece of cloth
-1 liter milk
-2 tablespoons good quality yogurt with LIVE ACTIVE CULTURES

-Heat the milk in the smaller pot, stirring constantly, until it boils (about 180 degrees Fahrenheit, if you're using a thermometer).  For thicker yogurt, hold it at a boil for 10-15 minutes.  I removed mine after just a minute or two.  Skim off any "skin" that has formed.
-Remove the pot from the heat and cool until you can dip your finger in for a few seconds (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit, if you have a thermometer).
-Stir 2 tablespoons or so of your yogurt starter in.  Any more, and your yogurt will be sour and watery because the starter will be crowded.  Any less, and it's not enough to ferment the entire batch.
-Pour your milk into jar(s) (I used old glass yogurt jars, really any will work).  Set them in a warm place.  I placed the jars in a large pot with several inches of water in it.  I covered it with a towel and placed it on the stove.  I turned the heat on low and checked every hour and a half or so to make sure it wasn't getting too warm or too cold.  DO NOT agitate the yogurt at all after this, it will slow the progress down.
-Wait.  For thinner yogurt, wait five or six hours.  For thicker yogurt, wait seven or eight.  You can always strain it later to make thicker Greek-style yogurt, so don't sweat this part too much.  Your yogurt will get tangier the longer you leave it.
-After the time is up, test for doneness.  If you made yogurt with homogenized milk, there will be a layer of whey over the top.  If you made yogurt with non-homogenized milk, there will be a layer of cream obscuring the whey.   The whey can be poured off and reserved for later use in soup, bread, rice, or many other dishes.
-Stir your yogurt and place in the fridge.  The stirring and cooling will stop the fermentation and cause some more thickening.  The yogurt should be set and ready to eat in a few hours. 

Makes one liter.  I eat a liter's-worth of yogurt in a week, so I can't really say if it will keep longer than that!  I like it with fruit, honey, jam, or muesli.  In the states, I put brown sugar on it, but that just doesn't exist here.

I've never made frozen yogurt, but that might just be next on my list... 

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