Thick, Luscious Yogurt Made Simple

Posted on March 6, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple | Tags: , , |

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In summer I love fruit smoothies, almost frozen and very refreshing.  For the cold winter, though, I switch over to yogurt.  It just seems more satisfying in winter.  Would I buy yogurt made in plastic containers from commercial milk?  Noooo.  Here is my simple version of homemade yogurt.  Please, at least use organic milk for this and don’t put anything plastic near this lovely stuff!

EQUIPMENT:

A pot to warm the milk – I prefer the Corning Ware Visions big brown glass pot, but stainless steel or enamel-coated cast iron would be fine – do not use aluminum (for anthing, really)

An instant-read thermometer, a wooden or bamboo spoon, a small glass jar with lid

A heating pad that stays on for 8 straight hours (apparently the government doesn’t think we can handle these anymore as you cannot find them for sale in stores, I stockpiled a bunch off ebay, you may have to get creative, like using a warm oven or putting it on top of the tv, more about this later.)

For Greek-style super thick you additionally need a strainer and a bowl below it with a lid of some kind and some plain muslin cloth from the fabric store.

INGREDIENTS

Milk (fresh, whole, unprocessed, organic or as close to that as you can get!)

Yogurt starter (either the freeze-dried stuff called Yogourmet – expensive, but you only need it once to get started, or a carton of Stonyfield Farm Organic Yogurt – Plain, I’ve tried other brands and they never work as well which makes me question whether they really have “live and active” cultures like the packages say.)

DIRECTIONS

Heat milk on low or maybe medium.  It should be gentle and take awhile.  Keep an eye on it.  Check the temperature every 5-10 minutes.

When the temperature reaches 180° turn heat off and begin cooling.  If you mess up and the whole thing boils over, don’t worry, just clean up and begin cooling.  It will still work, just not quite as well.

Cooling can take several forms.  You can put it on the car in the cold garage.  You can put it in the sink filled with cold water.  Or, if you have time you can just leave it on the stove.

When it reaches 100-110° you can add the starter.  The biggest mistake happens right here!!!  Only put the starter in after it has cooled!  Otherwise the starter will die and you will never grow yogurt!  Either throw in the whole carton of yogurt or one of the packets of the powdered stuff.  Stir it up really well with the spoon.  I use a slotted bamboo turner that really helps to melt the yogurt and mix it well.

Then place the pot on the heating pad or the other place which will keep it at about this temperature.  For my pad it is the low setting and then I wrap the whole thing in a thick bath towel.

Forget about it for 8 hours – write yourself a note with the time it is done.  When done put it in the refrigerator.  After completely cool take out about a 1/2-1 cup and put in the glass jar with lid to save as the starter for the next batch.

That’s it for basic yogurt.  Now for thick, Greek-style:

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Set up your bowl with strainer above it.  Line with the muslin that you previously cut to fit and rinsed in hot water and dried.  Put the yogurt in the muslin and cover.  Put it all in the fridge for as long as you want!  The longer it is in there, the more whey will drain out into the bowl below.  This whey has its own uses and you can look into that on the web.  I’ve used it to make awesome cornbread for instance, but usually I pour it out.  The whey also is useful, though, if you have drained it too long for your taste and it has become cream cheese-like.  Then you can just mix some of the whey back in until it is the consistency you like!  I like anything that is foolproof!

I hope you give this a try and let me know how it goes.  You won’t buy little plastic cartons anymore if you try homemade, I promise!

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