Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yogurt- the Remix. Plus my current obsession.

As I mentioned in the original post, my first attempt at yogurt came out tasting delicious, but lacking in the texture department. For my second attempt, I integrated some of the changes I mentioned earlier, and the result was amazing! Thicker, richer, possibly even more delicious. Here's what I did:

1. Poured 1/2 gallon milk into heavy pot. Snapped on my candy thermometer.

2. Heated on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until it hit 180 degrees. Meanwhile, heated oven on "warm."

3. Pulled pot off heat, put on the lid (as best I could, given the thermometer).

4. Waited for the milk to cool to 110 degrees. Meanwhile, turned oven off and allowed to cool a bit.

5. Removed some milk using a large measuring cup, stirred in a couple tablespoons of yogurt.

6. Returned mix to pot, whisking thoroughly.

7. Removed thermometer, replaced lid. Made sure oven was below 110 degrees (to protect my culture), turned on oven light to help keep it warm.

8. Wrapped thick towel around pot (including lid). Placed covered pot in oven. Allowed to rest overnight.

Here's the finished product, scooped into the Bell freezer jars I mentioned earlier. One of them actually tipped over in the fridge and yet didn't leak. These are perfect for the job.

What to do with all that yogurt? We are currently obsessed with the mango lassi. Here's what to do:

1. Drag out your blender.

2. Pour 1 cup of yogurt, 1/2 cup of milk, fruit and juice from 2 mangoes, and your preferred sweetener in the blender. I've been using a bit of agave nectar, Brett likes good ole' sugar. My new mango secret: after you cut out the pit and scoop out the flesh, squeeze the pit over the blender with your hand. This ensures you get all the juicy mango goodness around the pit and decreases waste.

3. Whip until smooth.

4. Top with ground cardamom and enjoy! These are even better if you let them sit in the fridge for a bit to get really cold.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Kitchen, the Laboratory: Part 2- Yogurt

After my successful experience with kefir-making, I decided to experiment with making yogurt. I'd heard that it was possible to make yogurt in a crockpot, so that's what I did. Here are the steps I used, which are a mash-up of the techniques described in both the link above and my Wild Fermentation book:

1. Pour 1/2 gallon milk into crockpot (I used whole, unhomogenized, organic milk and a 4 quart crock). Put on lid and set on low for 2 1/2 hours. You're aiming for the milk to hit 180 degrees (this is both for pasteurization and thickening purposes- although some folks claim heating the milk to this temp is unnecessary).
2. Turn crockpot off, insert thermometer, allow to cool until milk reads 110 degrees.
3. Remove one cup of the milk. Stir in 2 tablespoons live-culture yogurt, and pour back into the crock. Whisk thoroughly.

4. Put the lid back on the crock, wrap in a heavy towel, and allow to rest for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight (8+).

5. Scoop yogurt into cups (I found these great Ball freezer jars on Amazon- they are stackable, pretty leak-proof, BPA free, and dishwasher safe) and refrigerate.

6. Enjoy! From what I've found, these should stay fresh for a week or more, but may become more sour over time. We've been enjoying our yogurt with granola and fruit, as well as in mango lassis. Yum! I can honestly say that store-bought yogurt (even my $2/carton splurge stuff) doesn't hold a candle to what I made, taste-wise. Remember to save a bit to start your next batch with.

I'm still working on tweaking some of the steps, mainly in regards to the crockpot temp. My yogurt came out a bit runny, and that's mainly because I got impatient with waiting for my milk to cool. It seems the crockpot heated the milk much hotter than was necessary. This week I'm going to try heating the crockpot on "warm" while I heat the milk on the stove. Then I'll turn off the crockpot, pour the milk in, mix in the culture, and continue with the rest of the steps.

One extra tip: Save a bit of the yogurt and don't jar it. Line a colander with cheesecloth, put a bowel underneath, and pour the yogurt over. Allow it to drain for a few hours- you'll be left with a yummy, thick, cheese-like spread that's great on toast (among many things.)