Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Simple Yogurt Recipe

No, that is not an oxymoron. 

How do the words "homemade yogurt" make you feel? Terrified? Confident? There are so many rules to making yogurt that it leaves one feeling helpless.

We get the thermometer, the yogurt maker or dehydrator and anything else we think is a necessity. We are sure to sterilize all the utensils. We get the raw milk from the dairy. Or we buy milk from the grocery store.

We are all set up. On pins and needles. Watching every step. Getting the temperatures exact at every stage. And then all we get is some watery sour stuff.

Fear no more!

Yogurt making is far less daunting than all that. I had a good friend tell me how to make it very simply. No thermometer needed. No incubator. Just common household things.

Let me explain it to you.

I use a gallon of raw milk from the family milk cow but I feel quite sure you could use store bought milk. I can't guarantee the results though because I haven't tried that in ages. Try it and if it fails, see if you can find raw milk somewhere. 

I like to use milk that is a couple days old. It seems to work better. After all, in the old days yogurt was mostly just clabbered milk. More sour than what I make.

First of all, dip the cream off of the milk. It will only turn into a hard sticky mass on top of the finished product. Save the cream to put in your morning cup of healthy coffee

There is obviously not a full gallon of milk in the photos but I do use a whole gallon minus the cream. I used from a couple jars today.

Next heat the skimmed milk over medium high heat until it just about boils. It will get a bit of skin on top. I set my timer for 15 minutes and it is usually done by then. If it boils over, it doesn't matter -except for the dirty stove and the extra work of clean-up. In other words it won't hurt the yogurt if the milk boils. It happens to me quite often. Like when I end up in another part of the house and can't hear the timer. (I am a highly distractible person!)

Put a lid on the kettle while heating the milk. Once it is heated, leave the lid on and set it aside to cool. It should cool down to a temperature just the right warmth for a baby's bath.I just feel the outside of the kettle (but not when it's so hot that it burns). Now if you've never bathed a baby, that temperature should be just pleasantly warm to your elbow. I don't think you'll want to stick your elbow in the milk though. So if you've never bathed a baby... well, I don't know what to do for you! 

But back to this yogurt making. If you by chance allow the milk to cool too long- out of sight, out of mind, you know- no worries! Either reheat the milk just slightly or just wait for further instructions. And maybe you'll do like I do sometimes and reheat it too long. ( I told you I get distracted.) Just let it cool once again.

Now that it has cooled down it is time to skim it again. Take the skin off the top and discard it. Again no need for perfection. Just get the worst off.
With a skin

Skin has been removed
Now add a cup (or more) of store bought yogurt. I prefer Dannon but anything will work. I usually use plain yogurt but once again any flavor will do. I used vanilla flavored this time because I found a quart at a discount store for $0.99. The finished product will have a faint flavor of whatever flavor you added.

Whisk the yogurt into the milk really well. If you don't want to whisk the whole works with vigor then just put a bit of milk into a bowl with the yogurt, whisk that smooth and then add it to the kettle of milk. If you want sweetened yogurt now is the time to add 3/4 cup of sugar. Add vanilla now too if you wish.

Pour this mixture into a clean gallon jar. (The absence of the cream will make space for the yogurt starter.)

Now you want to keep your milk/yogurt mixture at the-temperature-you-would-bathe-your-baby-in for 4-6 hours. I use an Igloo. You may use any type of thermal container or an oven with a pilot light. (Are these to be found anywhere?) Put water of the correct temperature (the-temperature-you-would-bathe-your-baby-in) in with the jar of milk. If the milk is a bit too warm, make the water cooler. If it has cooled off too much, make the water warmer.

I like to cover it well with water. It depends what size thermos you use. A 5 gallon jug wouldn't need as much water. Just up to the top of the yogurt. And if using a kettle you may wish to use quart jars to keep the mixture at an even heat. Put the lid on and leave it for awhile.
I like to start the process about mid morning. The milk is cooled off by late afternoon, I add the starter and leave it in the thermos until early or mid morning the next day. I may even leave it until noon.

And here's the finished product-

You may notice a slightly yellowish look toward the top of the jar. That is whey. I usually pour or dip off any whey that is setting on top.

The finished texture is semi-solid. Nice to dip out. Not stretchy. The photo shows fresh, warm yogurt. It usually gets even more firm once it is refrigerator cold. I dipped some out to put in the freezer to cool for breakfast.

This recipe can be pared down to any size you want. For a quart of yogurt, use 1/4 cup of starter. And use your common sense on all the other details.

Ready to try your hand at it? 

Any questions? Please ask!

Any suggestions? Please tell.

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