Monday, November 10, 2008

I guess three posts in one day would make me an addict... but it just looks so empty

Anyone who knows me knows that I am very bad at leaving things empty or near empty. Well, except a nice cocktail glass...

So I promised an entry about yogurt and a yogurt entry I shall deliver!

When I was a kid my mom used to make us yogurt all the time in one of those Salton brand incubators. I think it made 6 jars at a time, so enough for a week. Of course, the grown me goes through that quantity rather quickly, so I've been poring over recipes and trying to come up with the most efficient way to make yogurt for our house that is tasty, uses local milk and requires the least amount of fuss.
In reviewing several dozen recipes online, I kept running across people who believe that there is deep chemistry involved in making this lovely little inoculated dairy treat. Not so. I tried recipes that fussed over getting the milk to an exact temperature, holding it there EXACTLY for 10 minutes EXACTLY and then quickly quickly cooling it to another temperature using an ice bath and a conductive bowl. The milk HAS to be pasteurized to begin with or else! No raw milk, even though by the very nature of scalding the milk it can no longer be raw... These people have far too much time on their hands. Obviously they don't have a series of 5-8 minute windows all day long in which to achieve great things while their baby is preoccupied.

I threw my hands up and decided to just go back to the plastic tub, which just bothered me using those big tubs up every week, even though I was recycling, it just seemed wasteful. Then I found, in my own recipe file, a card that just read yoghurt (I think I must have written this when I was feeling particularly groovy). It reads:

1 qt. milk (whole or skim)
2-3 T of yoghurt

Put milk on stove. Let boil. Cool; then add starter (yoghurt). Needs 10 hours in incubator to grow. Refrigerate 3-4 hours.

That's it! Now, to clarify, let boil means scald, not boil-for-10-minutes-while-you're-in-the-other-room-watching-YouTube-videos. So bring to a boil then remove from heat. I put the whole mess into a 4 cup pyrex measure and then when it reaches 115-120 F I add the starter. This cools the milk faster AND provides a tidy way to pour the pre-yogurt yogurt into the glass jars of the incubator.
Now that I'm an old pro at the new method I'm going to play around with leaving out the incubator part altogether. Tonight I will try my hand at incubating in the oven with only the pilot light to keep it warm. Should work though!

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