25 January 2010

Yogurt 101

I have been making my own yogurt weekly and eating it most days for breakfast.  It is much yummier than the stuff that I have gotten at the grocery store and it (fortunately) isn't very difficult to make!  I got the culture (more on that in a sec), a recipe, and some helpful hints at Dairy Connection, Inc., which is a short hop away up in Madison.  After some experimentation, I think I have it down and thought I would share.

The equipment and ingredients are pretty easy.  First off, equipment:

An appropriately sized seal-able container.  I find that canning jars work swimmingly as I usually make a quart or half-gallon at a time

A kitchen thermometer.  I love my nifty digital thermometer, but I have a cheapy analog that works just as well.  The important temperatures are 185°F, 115°F, and 110°F.
A sauce pan.
A picnic cooler.  It just needs to be big enough to hold the container upright.

Next, the ingredients:
  • milk (a quart to make a quart of yogurt, a half-gallon to make a half gallon, etc.)
  • the culture.  I have done this two different ways.  One is using 1/8-1/4 tsp of a freeze-dried culture (I use ABY-2C).  The other is using about a 1/2 cup of a yogurt that you like.  I have had consistently good results with the freeze-dried culture and generally good results with the second option using yogurt from the previous week's batch.  I have found that the results have tended to dwindle with time, but I suspect that as I get more consistent from batch to batch the piggy-back results will be better.  I have had a couple of batches that have wandered away from the ideal temperatures and I think that may have degraded the culture for reuse.
The process (taken from here):

Heat milk to 180°F.  I use medium heat and I stir pretty frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan.  Since I have a tendency to be easily distracted I keep some knitting or a book nearby so I can keep myself from wandering off.  I have been known to run to the computer to check my email and then head right back to the kit---ooo, shiny.  *time passes*  Hmmm, I wonder why this scorched milk is sitting on the stove?  Oh crud.  Yeah.  Not pretty.

Put the milk into the jar and cool to 115°F.  I use a sink of cold tap water.  When cooled add culture and stir gently to mix.  Put lid on jar.
Fill the cooler about 2/3 full with warm tap water (110°F).
Put jar in water in cooler.
Put lid on cooler and leave for about 8 hours.
Put finished yogurt in refrigerator and, when cool, enjoy!  I usually eat with some granola stirred in or some combination of nuts and/or fruit, a little honey or maple for sweetness, some cinnamon or nutmeg.  The possibilities are pretty much endless.


Namma said...

It does sound like it isn't terribly difficult to make...but I can certainly understand the "easily distracted" part of a Mom with three young 'uns...

kristenok18 said...

We've been doing the same thing (with a gallon of milk and 1 c. starter...I need to get some cultures!), but I only bring my milk to 110. I agree, homemade yogurt is FAB!!!