Thursday, December 6, 2012

Homemade Yogurt


Homemade Yogurt !
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I just made my first batch of homemade yogurt last night and I’m so excited I can hardly type!
 It was easy.  I didn’t even have a special yogurt making kit. Lifting the first quivery ladle-full out of the jar and puttting it in a bowl this morning was so exciting.  I drizzled a bit of real maple syrup over it and savored every jiggly mouthful. 
It makes me want to make this every week.  It is delicious and has the consistency of soft custard. 
What a beautiful thing to create something from scratch. It makes you feel happy. 
(I used whole raw milk, and the “starter” was Brown Cow organic whole plain yogurt). 
You can make a lot or a little bit of yogurt.  
Recipe ratio: ¼ C starter to 1-quart milk.

1 gallon cows milk (we use raw milk)
OR goat milk (easier to digest for children)
1 C plain, store-bought yogurt with live cultures*—this is your starter
(or reserve 1 C starter from last weeks homemade yogurt/ or use ½ tsp probiotic powder)
1 stockpot
1 food thermometer (optional)
2 half-gallon canning jars, or 4 quart-sized jars, with lids
1 electric heating pad

  1. Wash the glass jars in the dishwasher or by hand with very hot soapy water.  They need to be super clean.
  2. Pour milk into the stockpot and, over medium heat, bring up to 180º (scalding).  If you aren’t using a thermometer, you can tell it’s hot enough when steam starts rising from the milk and bubbles start forming around the edge of the pan—just before the boiling point.  (While milk is coming up to temperature on the stove, fill the sink with several inches of very cold water). 
  3. Remove pot of hot milk from heat and place gently into the sink of cold water (don’t get any water in the milk).  Stir occasionally until the milk is 110º—baby bottle temperature—you can tell when you use the spoon to dribble a bit on your wrist.  If it’s lukewarm on your wrist you are ready for the next step. Wait a minute or two before you test it on your wrist.  Alternatively, you can allow the yogurt to come down to 110º naturally, with time.
  4. Now, using a wire whisk, stir in the yogurt starter (storebought or homemade reserved from last batch).  Blend in thoroughly. 
  5. Pour the yogurt into a large pitcher (to avoid a mess), then pour into the glass containters.  Loosely cover with the lids.
  6. Time to incubate!  You need to keep the heat consistent and low so that the cultures will grow.
    1. How long:  8-10 hours at 110º.  Longer if you want more culture.  (12 hours for mine).  24 hours eliminates all lactose if you have GI troubles.
    2. Where:  On a heating pad set at lowest setting, in a draft free place.  Cover the jars with a thick wool sweater (or felted wool cozy).  Leave it alone until it’s done.
    3. When:  Bedtime is a great time to make this.  It’s fun to wake up to!
  7. Refrigerate the jars of your freshly made bit of heaven (it will thicken a bit more in there).  Pat yourself on the back for creating something healthy and wonderful.
Additions:
  • Sweet Additions:  honey, maple syrup, fresh fruit, granola, nuts, seeds. 
  • Savory Additions: herbs and grated cucumber (sort of like raita). Dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper to dollop on top of fish.
     
Variations:
·      Greek yogurt:  Simply strain your yogurt.  Set a colander lined with cheesecloth in a larger bowl.  Pour yogurt into that and let drain for a few hours.  Save whey for other things like adding to homemake bread or to feed your pet)
·      Super smooth:  Add 1 cup dry milk powder per quart (or ½ milk powder, ½ buttermilk powder)
·      Different flavor:  Dilute evaporated milk according to directions (50/50 with water).  Replace an equal quantity of the milk with this evaporated milk.
·      Kefir:  Culture the milk with kefir grains, instead of yogurt starter.
       
More incubating ideas:
·      Set in a warm spot near a woodstove in the wintertime.
·      A picnic cooler with blankets around the jars and covered with the thermos lid.  Or pour 110º water around the jars and cover the picnic cooler with the lid.
·      In a gas oven with just the pilot light on.  Some ovens can be programmed for 110º.  Perfect!
·      Pour yogurt into a “thermal cooker” (non-electric heavily insulated pot).
·      Create a “culturing cupboard”—a place in your kitchen where you incubate your weekly batch of yogurt, like the cupboard above the fridge.  Fun for kids.
       
Resources:

Trouble shooting:
  • Curdling:  simply add salt, pepper and herbs to your unplanned cottage cheese.
  • Not “setting up”:  make sure you don’t use ultra-pasterized milk. It won’t work well.






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