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The Yogurt Experiment

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Yogurt Making Experiment
After just recently rekindling my love affair with greek yogurt I stumbled on a few recipes online about homemade yogurt.
Appearantly it is quite simple to make, even without a hoity-toity yogurt making machine. (Thought that would make it considerably easier)
so! I have plently of time around the apartment right now, since my summer job is over and my school has yet to begin. I decided I'd try it myself. Here's the recipe, it is sort of a mash of all the ones I read online, it's not necessary to be that precise with measurements, however I do think it's important to be careful with the sanitization and tempuratures.

Homemade yogurt
1/2-1 cup fresh (ie unopened) yogurt with live cultures in it (I used about 6 oz of Fage)
4-6 cups of milk (I'm not sure how much I used but probably 4-5 cups of some fancy organic 2%)

A large heavy-bottemed pot
A whisk
A big spoon

1. First boil a pot of water to sanitize all of your cooking stuff, I used a pot, a whisk, a large spoon and a candy thermometer. Make sure to wash your hands a lot too. Just in case.
2. Dump out your water
3. Add milk to the now pristine pot. In order to make it easier for the yogurt bacteria to grow you want to scald the milk, so heat it up to about 195ish (Fahrenheit) but don't let it boil or burn.
4. Remove the milk from the heat and cool it to about 110F. I partially filled my sink with cold water and dipped the pan into it to speed the process. Others have used the fridge or just been more patient than I.
5. Now that the milk is between 100-120F it can grow the yogurt bacteria. Whisk in your store bought yogurt, make sure there are no lumps and that it is totally incorporated. The yogurt cultures like this temperature range, but they will die if it gets too hot. If it gets too cold the bacteria will take a lot longer to grow and it makes the milk susceptible to growing pathogens which die at the higher temperature (cool!)
6. The hard part: You have to culture the milk at this temperature (100-120) for 4-12 hours. So you need a spot to put the pot where it will stay warm enough. I warmed up my stove on 150 for a few minutes while cooling the milk and when that was done it was the right temp. I had to periodically check the temp to make sure it was right and I did have to turn the stove on briefly a couple times (however I cultured my yogurt for a looong time 11 hours, for a shorter time I doubt you'd have to do this.) You could also pack the warm pot in a box with newspapers or towels for insulation, or use a heating pad set on med-high if you have one. If you have a warm spot in your house that might work too.
7. Now that you have your little baby microbes all set you have to WAIT. Also very hard! It's important the milk is not disturbed. The minimum time is about 3 hours. The longer you wait the more tart and sour the yogurt becomes. For greek style yogurt wait 8-12 hours. It's a matter of taste.
8. Now you have yogurt! From here you can pack the yogurt up and put it in the fridge, or if you are adventurous and can't stop yourself from trying everything at once (like myself) you can strain the yogurt to make it into greek yogurt or labneh (yogurt cheese).

Straining Yogurt
This can be done to store bought yogurt too, which I may try next time instead of the whole shebang. If you use store bought though, you should look for yogurt that doesn't have additives many have thickeners that make it harder to strain the whey out.

Large square of cheese cloth (~15x15") OR a paper towel OR a big coffee filter or two
A bowl or other container you can rest the colander on, to catch the liquid from the yogurt.

I used a paper towel, which worked marvelously but you can't really squeeze it like you could with cheese cloth.

1. Put your colander over the bowl or pot and line it with the cloth or paper towel
2. Pour yogurt into colander
3. Now you can either transfer this contraption to the fridge and let it drain itself or if you are impatient and sort of grouchy like I was by this time, you can carefully draw up the corners of your paper towel and you can squeeze as much liquid out as you want. This is much easier to do if you use cheese cloth! The volume of the yogurt will reduce by half or more.

If you add a little salt (to taste) and squeeze out lots of water you get labneh, which is also known as yogurt cheese.
The liquid you strain out of the yogurt is known as whey and it is full of those good enzymes and nutrients etc. You can drink it chilled. Or use it in pickling. Or use it as a substitute for liquids in baking (apparently it's extra good in bread). It can also be used in salad dressings, sort of like a cream-less buttermilk. I threw mine down the sink, I just didn't want to do the extra work at the time and drinking it didn't appeal to me.

So, after a suspense filled day I did get some yogurt. Unfortunately though, mine was quite lumpy which I think means that Iet the milk get too hot. It does taste good though! Very yogurty. Mine came out real thick too, so I think I'll use it like cream cheese.

It was a very cool thing to do though and I'm gonna have to try it again, (and maybe CHECK MY THERMOMETER grr.) Good luck with your yogurt projects!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD3730556
    I make a lot of yogurt for smoothies. For additional thickness AND protein, you may want to add a fat-free or low-fat powdered milk. It helps a lot with texture. I add approximately 1/2 cup to a quart of milk.

    I have both a yogurt maker and a yogurt strainer. The yogurt maker is a quart size - it's great to use the wide-mouth quart ball jars. I'm able to scald the milk via microwave directly in the jar and add it to the yogurt maker. It's very low fuss. I add the powdered milk after scalding as it seems to foam in the microwave if you mixed it before.

    For flavoring I make some simple syrups (meyer-lemon infused is excellent!) and drizzle a small amount over the yogurt. It adds just enough sweetness to cut the tart taste.
    4313 days ago
    Thanks for posting your suggestions. I make yogurt also. I like to use Fage because it has no additives. I find that if I set it in the oven with the lightbulb turned on it maintains a temp of about 110 degrees for 7-8 hours. I usually do the cooking part in the morning,let it sit in the oven all day, then cool it overnight in the fridge and I have yogurt the next day. I think I will try straining it like you suggest.
    4314 days ago
    I have often thought about making yogurt, but have not tried yet. Maybe if it works for you I can give it a try.
    4314 days ago
  • SASH1996
    Thank you for the recipe. I have recently been laid off so I have alot of time around the house also. Will give it a try.
    4314 days ago
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