Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kitchen Experiment #176: Homemade Yogurt

Continuing my string of dairy-product-making-attempts (some more successful than others, I must say...mozzarella continues to elude me), I tried my hand at yogurt recently.

The process is fairly simple... heat a quart of milk to 185 degrees, whisk in yogurt starter (or yogurt with live cultures, which is what I used), pour it all in a quart jar, and then do your best to keep your yogurt-to-be around 110 degrees for the next six to twelve hours, which is more difficult than one might think. In my case, I filled two more quart jars with boiling water, swaddled all of them in a sweater, stuffed them in the non-working oven in my camper, then continued to anxiously check on it every few hours like a new mother looking in at her sleeping infant.

For a first yogurt, I don't think it was too shabby. It has a pleasantly tangy flavor, which I prefer. It is a little thin for my liking - closer to a kefir consistency than yogurt, really - but absolutely fine mixed with granola, which is how I always eat it.

And why is that, anyways? I think my yogurt starter was a little too old, for one thing. The fresher the yogurt, the better, where live cultures are concerned. Also, Clare told me that she lets the milk cool a bit before adding the starter, since the high heat can kill the cultures. And next time, I'll probably use a strainer to catch all the little bits of scorched milk that settled to the bottom of the yogurt, because that's just kind of gross.

I'm a little stumped about what to do about the skin that develops on top of milk when you heat it, though. Do I just need to stand there, whisking maniacally until it's ready to pour? I'd really rather not, if there are other options. Any ideas out there?

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