A great method for making yogurt

by threegirlpileup

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along with a little picture, so small because it’s blurry and looks terrible if it’s any bigger!

I’ve been making my own yogurt on and off for some time now, but have gotten into it with a vengeance since our weekly deliveries of fresh local milk have started.  My intention is to start making cheese, but as I’m lacking some supplies, it’s been yogurt and more yogurt.

I’ve experimented with a number of strategies, including keeping the yogurt warm in our 100 degree oven and wrapping the bowl in a blanket overnight.  My friend Judith recently told me that she uses a heating pad to keep her culturing yogurt warm.  This method, inspired by the wonderful book Wild Fermentation, is what’s worked best and most consistently for me.

You’ll need:

  • a pot for heating the milk, plus a spoon for stirring
  • clean glass jars for your milk.  I make 2-3 quarts at a time.
  • a few extra glass jars with lids
  • a small cooler
  • fresh yogurt, 1 tbl. per quart of milk

Directions:

  1. Gently heat the milk to 180 degrees F.  Nourishing Traditions suggests only heating to 110 if you are using raw milk, but I’ve had better luck heating all the way to 180.  This is the temperature when bubbles are forming around the edge of the plan.
  2. Cool the milk down to 110 degrees F.  I usually just leave it in the pan to do this, but it would go much faster if transferred to another, cooler container.
  3. When the milk is almost cooled, pre-warm your jars by rinsing them out with hot water.  Do the same to the cooler.
  4. Stir in 1 tbl. of plain yogurt for each quart of milk.  This is less than many recipes call for.  I was interested to read that you actually have to be careful not to add too much starter, or the bacteria get too crowded and don’t “yo” as effectively.
  5. Pour the mixture into jars and screw on the lids.  Put the jars into the warmed cooler.  Fill additional jars with hot water until the cooler is filled.
  6. Let sit 8-12 hours.  If your yogurt is still a little thin, you can add warm water to the cooler and let it sit a few more hours.

Lots of our yogurt is made into cream cheese; I just put it in a cloth-lined strainer for a day or so.  Maggie loves it, and it’s perfect with the bounty of hot pepper jelly in our pantry.  Sometimes I flavor it with jam, or even better, use up jam that didn’t set.  I’ve been experimenting with yogurt popsicles, but I haven’t quite come up with a balance of sweetener that pleases both me and the girls.  Tonight we made some simple vanilla frozen yogurt sweeted with Rapadura, and that was really yummy, though I think I’ll cut back on the sugar next time.

Off to look again at cheese-making instructions…I’m ready to make my own mozzarella next.

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