Yo…gurt, Part 2 (the one that works)
You know that saying that you learned when you were 5, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Yeah, well that’s what I had to do with this whole yogurt thing. Really the recipe isn’t difficult, I just totally forgot a pretty important step, and as it turns out that one little step is what makes yogurt into yogurt and not warm milk or ricotta cheese. Details, details.
Anyway, I checked with my friend who told me the recipe, I did it (the right way) all over last night and this morning awoke to lovely, smooth yogurt. OH MAN! If you’ve never had fresh yogurt this is definitely something worth giving a try! Nice new yogurt over lovely organic strawberries……… Sorry I just needed a minute, I’m back now.
There are lots of ways to make yogurt and each claims to be the easiest. I guess it really just depends on the person and what you like. I’ve tried the “heating pad” way, which my mom likes, but the result was really bitter so either that’s how it always turns out or I did something wrong (again).
When I followed the directions, I found this way to be really simple. Basically you need 5 hours that you’re in the house to make this work well. Within that 5 hours there’s only about 2 minutes that you’re required to be actually active in the yogurt making process so it’s not as bad as it sounds.
Here’s what ya do:
You will need:
A crock pot
1/2 gal. of milk (My preference is unhomogenized, organic whole milk but regular milk/lower fat content will work. If using a lower fat content your yogurt may not come out quite as thick)
1/2 c. yogurt (this is your starter, the same concept as sour dough bread. It needs to be plain (no flavoring), live/active cultured. Organic doesn’t hurt one bit. In the future just save 1/2 c. of what you make and use that each time.)
A thermometer (not absolutely necessary, but very very helpful)
A thick bath towel
I like to start my yogurt right when I get home from work, that gives me almost exactly 5 hours from the time I start to the time I go to bed which is perfect for this recipe. Add to the crock pot the 1/2 gal. of milk and set to low. Set a timer for 2 1/2 hours and go do something else. When the timer goes off check the temperature, it should be right at 170 degrees F. If not, let it sit for another 1/2 hour and you should be golden. At that point turn off and unplug the crock pot and let it sit for another 2 1/2 – 3 hours until the temperature is right around 114 degrees F. Add your starter yogurt and whisk it in. Cover with the lid as well as the heavy bath towel. Think of it as tucking in your yogurt for bed. Now you too can go to bed and in approximately 8 hours (or whenever you wake up in the morning) you should have homemade yogurt for your breaking-fast pleasure.
This produces Aussie or American style yogurt (smooth but relatively thin). For thicker yogurt you can do one of three things:
1. Strain it – This is what I do: Line a fine sieve with cheese cloth or paper towel. Place the yogurt in the sieve and allow it to drain over a bowl in the fridge until desired consistency. 2-3 hours will give you “greek” yogurt, 4-8 hours will make yogurt cheese which I use in place of sour cream (it’s healthy, cheap, and delicious). If it strains for too long and you want it less thick simply add in some of the whey (the liquid that has dripped off) back into the yogurt and stir. Added bonus: The extra whey can be drunk, used as liquid for smoothies, or used in baking/cooking, and is surprisingly healthy.
2. Add probiotics: By nature of the yogurt making process it already has probiotics in it (probiotics are the healthy bacteria in yogurt) its one of the reasons it’s so good for you. However, you can also buy probiotic supplements (capsule form) and add them into the yogurt at the 114 degree stage. The friend who told me about this recipe tried this method in her most recent batch and said it thickened up really well. It doesn’t add any extra flavor so if you have any capsules or powdered probiotics around open them up and pop them in.
3. Unflavored Gelatin – I haven’t tried this but I hear you can add a packet of unflavored gelatin when you add in your starter yogurt (@ 114 Degrees) which will thicken it up, especially when using lower fat content milk. I bet arrowroot powder would work well too, but I’m not sure how much. I would start small (like 1/2 tsp.).
The flavor possibilities are endless and the cost savings is incredible. I like mine plain but it is great with honey, fruit, agave, sugar, maple syrup, granola, cereal, a tablespoon of jelly/jam, etc.
The cost analysis break down can be found HERE at the bottom of the page. Why reinvent the wheel 🙂 Basically, it’s comes down to around 2 cents an ounce! Amazing!
Anyway, give it a try and let me know how it turns out for you! Since I’m a big fan of recipes that do their own thing while you do yours, I’m going to give a no knead ciabatta bread recipe a try next week or so. Basically you stir the ingredients together, let it sit for 18 hours, and bake it. I’m excited and I’ll let you know how it goes!