I’m enjoying finding more and more things I can make from scratch. Bread, jam, and now yogurt. Making yogurt turned out to be easy and fun. I like cooking when it is science-y!
Yogurt takes 2 ingredients: milk, and… yogurt. You take a little bit of yogurt and turn it into more yogurt. All you have to do is heat up some milk, cool it down, add a bit of yogurt, and then keep it warm and still for some time. The bacteria in the yogurt will colonize the rest of the milk.
Here is the method I’ve used so far.
1. Collect the equipment you’re going to use and sterilize it by boiling for a couple minutes. This may be unnecessary but I do it because I’m paranoid like that.
2. Set up your incubator. This is any way you can come up with to keep the yogurt warm (about 100º F) for 8 hours. I do it by putting warm stuff inside my big blue cooler. There are other creative ways too. The warm stuff I use is an old low-temp cat heating pad that my kitty used to sleep on, plus some containers filled with hot water. I use the hot water I generated from the sterilization step – just put it in 3 or 4 closeable containers in the cooler. If you aren’t going to use the heating pad (and this is probably a slightly bad idea anyway) I would try just the hot water-filled containers and maybe replace the water with fresh hot water halfway during the processing time. In any case… get the cooler ready with the warm stuff at this point so it will be a nice and toasty place for the yogurt later.
3. Get yourself about 1/2 to 1 cup of PLAIN yogurt and 3 cups of milk. I use these amounts because it makes exactly the right quantity to fill my yogurt tub! You can use more milk to the same amount of yogurt if you want to make more. I use 2% milk and some good, full-fat yogurt — none of that watery lowfat stuff for me but you can try it if you want to 🙂
4. Set up a double boiler. I put a little water in the bottom of my 3 quart pot and set my 2 quart pot inside it. Pour the milk into the top pot and heat on medium, stirring and checking the temp frequently, until the milk reaches a temp of 185º F. This is to kill off any bad bacteria that might be in the milk.
5. Once 185º is reached, remove the milk from the heat and allow it to cool down to 110º F. You can speed the process by setting the pot in a container of cold water or ice water as I have done here. This step is to get the milk to the right temperature for the bacteria in the yogurt to flourish and multiply.
6. Once 110º is reached, add the yogurt into the milk and stir. Do this quickly and don’t let the temp get too low before putting the pot into the incubator.
7. Place the pot into the prepared cooler. Use towels to separate the pot from the warm stuff. Close the lid.
8. Don’t touch it for 8 hours! Ideally it should sit at about 100º F for 8 hours or so.
9. After 8 hours or longer, remove the pot from the cooler and check on your yogurt. In this pic I have already stirred it up a bit and you can see it has thickened nicely.
10. It’s yogurt! Stir and pour into your container of choice. Refrigerate what you don’t want to eat immediately.
11. Eat it!! Stir in some strawberry jam or peach preserves (shown here), sprinkle granola or cereal on it, dip a cookie in it, put a spoonful on chili instead of sour cream. When you get down to the last bit in the container, use it to make your next batch!
Give it a try and let me know how it goes! Here is another idea I’m going to experiment with: using a crockpot instead of the cooler. http://www.nourishingdays.com/?p=912
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