Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Yo, Baby!

There's been a lot of domestic shenanigans in our house lately. The angry hiss of the pressure-cooker letting off steam. Sourdough bubbling and fermenting next to the stove. Abandoned wine corks being dressed in little knitted hats and sweaters to make stockpiled ornament gifts for next Christmas. So I'm guessing Phil took it in stride the other day when he came home late from band practice to find a soup pot overturned on a heating pad warming up on the kitchen counter. I was making yogurt.

I ran out of my Light N Fit yogurt this week, and after having made a crack about Gogurts last week in this blog, thought I'd try making my own. It's pretty simple. You bring a quart of milk almost to the boiling point (180 degrees F), and then let it cool to about 112 degrees F. (You need a candy thermometer for this.) The cooling takes the longest time in the process -- maybe 45 minutes to an hour -- but I had a laundry list of things to do that night, so would flutter around changing sheets and folding laundry and just check in on the milk's temperature after each task.

Then you take a small amount of the warmed milk -- maybe 1/3 cup -- and mix it with either 2 Tbsp. yogurt with active cultures or a commercial yogurt starter. I used the starter, but I think either are purported to work equally well. Then you mix this little bit of milk-mixed-with-starter back into with the quart of milk, and pour it into whatever container it will be incubating in. I used a quart canning jar.

Once the milk was in the canning jar, I just screwed on the lid, placed it on heating pad set to low, and overturned a big soup pot on it for extra insulation, a slightly kooky but effective method I read about in The Tightwad Gazette.

After that I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and went to bed. In the morning, there was a quart of yogurt.

The yogurt was runnier than I like, but tastes wonderful and fresh. I've read that you can thicken up the yogurt by adding about 1/2 cup powdered milk to the quart of milk after mixing in the starter, so I'm going to try that next time.

Because there will be a next time.



Anonymous Laura Kitchel said...

I don't know if I'm ready to tackle this project or not, but I do have some questions: What sort of milk did you use? 2%? Whole? Does it matter? How long does it have to incubate? The heating pad/soup tureen sounds like a swell idea, but my heating pad shuts off automatically after about an hour--good thing if you have a creaky back and want to go to bed with a heating pad and not set the bed on fire, but not so good for incubating yogurt. What other method could one use? Maybe putting the quart jar in a crock pot on low or something?

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Leneta said...

Ya know, you (and the respondents) keep talking about things that I used to do when I was in my 30's (as you-all are now). I was a mom working part-time outside the home. Interesting. So... sure enough, I made yogurt when we lived in Richmond in the 70's. Surprise. I quit doing it because we didn't like yogurt all that well! Seems to me we used to put it in the oven overnight instead of your heating pad idea. I believe I used reconstituted dry skim milk.

11:50 AM  
Blogger amyzeats said...

okay, you have officially freaked me out. i will spend 2 or 3 days piecing together some crazy French stew or somesuch, but this...this is just crazy! :) plus, my supermarket just started selling this great, great Greek yogurt that comes in low and lower-fat versions that blows any yogurt i've had before in my life out of the water. i think i'm cool with this one. but i am beyond impressed, Slowish Food Master. :)

1:44 PM  
Blogger Cindy K said...

Laura: I just used skim milk. You can use whatever kind you want; I don't think it matters. I left this on overnight -- about 8 hours. Recipes vary on time, but most say 4 to 8 hours. You could keep it in a low turned on oven overnight like your mom did; I've read about that, too. The main thing is to keep it undisturbed at a constant, warm temperature for the eight hours.

Leneta, that's funny that you discovered you didn't really like yogurt! I've made things like taht before (healthy cookies with sunflower seeds) a couple times, and then realized -- I don't like this, why bother?

Amy, Phil's picked up that Greek yogurt before and it is amazing. Trader Joe's even has these little packages (although I hate the wasted packaging) pairing a serving of that yogurt with honey. MA-A-AN. And yogurt making is kooky, but 1/20th as complex as the things I see you whipping together!

4:24 AM  
Anonymous Leneta said...

Another thing that happened 30-some years ago is that Phil's uncle Jim said we all really oughta invest in guar gum. Check commercial yogurt labels (among many other products)and you'll agree. But, Cindy, if you added guar gum I bed your homemade yogurt would be plenty thick. One way I do kind of like yogurt is in grape-nuts cereal, esp. w/fruit.

4:36 AM  

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