Homemade Yogurt

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I started eating a lot of yogurt as a way to increase my protein intake in the morning. I usually don’t want an egg. I always want my cereal. And then, when watching our nightly episode of Good Eats, Alton Brown told us that the bacteria in yogurt helps eliminate lactose. Héc is lactose intolerant, so this was a miracle! He also started eating more yogurt. And it seemed that we would buy liter after liter of yogurt, were creating more plastic waste than necessary, and it was getting expensive. An added benefit of making yogurt at home is that we cannot find greek style yogurt in Guatemala. This recipe is perfect. I can make tatziki, salad dressings, and all kinds of stuff. Its also perfect for baking.So I decided to give it a try. Because I don’t have a candy thermometer it was hard for me to figure out the temperature of the milk. You don’t want to boil it, but you want to get it warm enough to denature the milk proteins. And then there was the problem of keeping it warm. When I was visiting my parents, I tried to keep it in an oven with the light on. But that apparently wasn’t warm enough. Until I discovered I could use my slow cooker to keep it warm. So here are the steps. Its really simple folks.

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Photos: heating the milk to 185º F * (about 30 minutes until steams but doesn’t boil) and remove the skin; pour from pan to your storage vessel of choice and let cool to about 115ºF (about 20 minutes) — yes my storage vessel used to be a pickle jar**; whisk in a heaping tablespoon of live active plain yogurt; keep warm at around 115ºF for 3- 8 hours (the longer the tangier).

Yogurt:
1 liter milk (I use skim despite all the warnings people have given me not to)
1/3 cup powered skim milk
1 -2 tablespoons plain yogurt with live cultures

Warm the milk in a sauce pan over low heat, stirring it occationally, until the milk steams, between 185 – 195ºF+ .IMG_1773 You don’t want it to boil. I know that it is there when I see steam rising, and a skin forms on the surface. It usually takes me 30 minutes. Then I whisk in the powered milk. This just add to the thickness. Its not necessary, however I find that the yogurt always turns out with a thicker creamier consistency this way. Take it off the burner, transfer to a heat proof container, and let it cool about 15 or 20 minutes (to 115ºF), so that you don’t kill the cultures when adding the yogurt. When it is cool to touch (wash you hands! you don’t want unwanted bacteria growing in there!) whisk in the yogurt very well. Seal the container well, wrap it with towels to protect it from the direct heat of the slow cooker, and keep it on the warm setting. If I am around the house, I like to switch the crock pot off every 30 or 45 minutes just to ensure it doesn’t get too hot, but I have left it alone for 5 hours and it was perfectly fine. I’m not sure the temperature of my warm setting, but it is possible they vary between manufacturers and with age. Let the milk ferment for 3 – 8 hours. The longer you leave it the tangier the taste.

For thicker yogurt, or yogurt cheese, you can line a collander with cheese cloth and let the whey drain out. The longer you leave it the thicker it will be.

*I never have used a thermometer. I don’t have one. I messed this up three times before it worked, and since then I just know what these different stages look like. If you have a thermometer I highly recommend using it in order to save time, money, and frustration.

**Confession: I used a pickle jar to store my yogurt in because I liked its shape and it was the only thing I had the appropriate size and material. I washed it well (I thought), but my first batch of yogurt smelled like pickles. Disgusting. After sitting with baking soda for a few weeks, and a dozen or so washed (I really wanted this jar), it works. I don’t recommend this jar for most people. Go buy something.

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One Response

  1. […] 1/2 cup thick greek-style plain yogurt (if you can’t find greek yogurt, I highly recommend draining what you buy at the store) 2 […]

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