Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yogurt-- I Finally Made It!

If you were following along with my household dramas in the Fall of 2009, you'll remember my yogurt making experiments- sans a yogurt maker appliance- went bust (see the post here). Three times I followed recipes that failed to produce anything but sour milk and a phlegm like texture.

Its been a year and a half and I finally felt ready to brave the experiment again (Thanks for the inspiration, Evelyn at A Chaotic Lifestyle). 

I'll skip the suspense to announce my final results, in a frenzy of caps lock excitement: THREE TIMES I'VE SUCCESSFULLY, MIRACULOUSLY turned milk to yogurt! 

While the first re-trial came out more like Yop than Yogurt, which I froze as popsicles and no one knew the difference, the second and third were progressively more firm. I've Mother Earth News to thank for the instructions. Find the full article at Mother Earth News. 

For the curious, I simplify the process below. If you decide to try it, reference the full article at MEN.

First, I melted 2 T of honey at bottom of pot to prevent milk scalding at the heat source.
Then on mid-low heat for about 30 minutes, I heated four and a half cups of milk until skin formed on top- with bubble trapped below. Turning off heat, I cooled milk for another 30 minutes until it didn't burn by inner wrist- but it stung (did mention there is some masochism involved in this?)
As the milk heated and cooled, I added a couple tablespoons of raspberry jam to the bottom of 2 of 3 clean, 500 ML jars. I kept one plain so I had starter for next time.

Once the milk was 115 F (hot but not too hot to the touch), I mixed in a couple Tablespoons of 'starter'. The yogurt contained NO gelatin, and ACTIVE bacteria cultures. I also added 3 Tablespoons of skim milk powder.

I then placed the jars in the crock pot and filled it with HOT water. I occasionally and shortly turned the crockpot on low to keep the water warm.  When I headed to bed, I placed the glass covered pot under the cabinet lights. This seemed to keep the water relatively warm. In the morning, I checked how thick the yogurt was (it wasn't quite ready) then kept the yogurt in a warm bath for most of the day. When the yogurt finally seemed thick enough, I refrigerated the jars.

[On another occasion, I put the jars in my dutch oven and placed this into a cooling oven. Along with the oven light on overnight, this provided enough heat to solidify the yogurt.)

The four and a half cups of milk produced the equivalent amount of yogurt: about a tub and a half of the standard 650 g worth about $5- 8 at the store. Homemade it cost me $1.25. After doing it three times, I feel pretty confident that I could do it regularly without much trouble-- most of the time it takes to make involves me sleeping, surfing the net, and working on other things in the kitchen. 

Tonight, I'm happily calculating how many pairs of shoes and Lee Valley garden tools I can buy with my savings. As I do, I'm sucking a raspberry, yogurt popsicle that once was Yop, which before that was milk in my fridge. 


RootAndTwig said...

Good for you! I also experienced some failures at the beginning, but now it seems like I've got the 'feel' for making yogurt. I've noticed that everyone develops their own system. I use a cooler with a hot water bottle inside to incubate mine. Just so glad I did not have to go buy another plug-in appliance to make this one food item.

John Schneider - Gold Forest Grains said...

That is great Carissa! Glad to hear it worked! Bet it tastes great too.

Mrs. Nepper said...

So would you say the taste is comparable to "regular yogurt?" We normally buy vanilla yogurt, but this raspberry jam business is interesting...

An Avenue Homesteader said...

The way I've made it is not quite as sweet as the store bought stuff- but that could be remedied pretty quickly. I really like the flavour of it plain-- since I add honey in the beginning. I'd love to hear what you think if you try it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Carissa- glad you made it work! It's funny because I have no problem making yogurt and we do it regularly-without the crockpot or anything. I simply heat/cool/add starter and place the container in my oven with only the oven light on. It's the perfect temperature for growing culture. It takes as little as 5-6 hours but I usually do it overnight for 8 hours and end up with nice firm yogurt. (I always use whole milk, organic, and un-homogenized if available.) My neighbor can actually just leave hers on the counter and it works-no heat source at all! I think her house is warmer. But then when I tried to make yogurt at my mom's, it failed the first time and I couldn't figure out why. She uses heating blankets and it seems to work but never quite the same texture as mine. Fun stuff, isn't it? Courtney

An Avenue Homesteader said...

It will be interesting if I find the thickening step faster once summer comes... Warm house should cut down the wait time (my fingers are crossed!