Monday, March 24, 2014

Homemade Yogurt

Ever since visiting E and L in Arizona I have been wanting to make some homemade yogurt.  While we were there L made VF some homemade yogurt that was delicious, and to be honest I had never considered the possibility of making yogurt at home. I mean, making yogurt involves special equipment - right?  It probably means getting milk at a certain stage of its processing - right?  No it was just milk.  Just slightly heated, slightly cultured milk.  L absolutely inspired me in wanting to do this at home. 
When L  made us yogurt she used a yogurt maker, so I started out shopping my options.  Turns out yogurt makers aren't all that expensive - however in my online research I came across this page - and decided to give it a try.  These instructions were straightforward and easy to follow,  and if you want to make some yogurt I do recommend using them.  What I will be writing below is pertaining to my experience and not as detailed as using the other site for instructions.  The plus to this site's directions that it is done without a yogurt maker which means that I wouldn't have to have any additional equipment to store.  This definitely made it worth trying before buying.  So yesterday I decided to jump right in and make my own yogurt.
First things first I pulled out all the items that the site said I needed.  A large soup pot, a small pot, a spoon, a thermometer, a cloth, a heating pad, and milk, yogurt (for the starter.)  The thermometer that I used was a candy thermometer that I already had.  Next I got the water bath started.  I boiled water in the large soup pot and used that to sanitize all my other items.  I also used it to sanitize the jar that I was eventually going to use to store the yogurt.  Then I used that storage container to measure out the milk so that I knew exactly how much yogurt I would be making.  Once everything was sanitized I set the smaller pot inside the larger pot and poured in the milk. 
 Now a water bath can be a bit of a pain, but it was one of the main reasons why I chose this set of instructions over others.  When L made the yogurt for us she mentioned that getting the milk to the correct temperature was the only tricky part of making yogurt.  Scalding and boiling the milk was the only place that you could really go wrong.  Using a water bath definitely made it easier to catch the milk at the right temperature.  I know for most people this wouldn't be a concern, but when I have a baby to tend to at the same time as making yogurt having a system work with me is definitely a plus.
Once the milk was at the right temperature I held it there for about 20 minutes, this was to help it be a thicker yogurt.  Doing this was a bit trickier than I expected.  The instructions seemed to show that just keeping it in the water bath would keep it the right temperature.  I found that it would get quite a bit warmer.  So I alternated between being in the pot and out, I am sure there are easier ways to do this.  After the proper time had elapsed I jumped it into the icy water, waited to reach the right temperature, and then added my culture.  I gave it a stir with the spoon, but as the yogurt going in was in a clump I wasn't sure just how vigorous to get.  A part of me wanted to use a whisk to be sure it was fully mixed, but I stuck to the spoon in case the additional air a whisk would add mattered.  I put it on the heating pad as instructed and waited.  Waiting can be a tricky thing for someone with as little patience as me.  I admit I opened it up a couple times to check the temperature, and every time it was as it should be, maybe next time I can trust it and leave it alone.  After 7 hours it looked just as one would expect, and just like the picture on the site.  Last night I was feeling very confident as I put it in its container and in the fridge. 
This morning what I found was perfect yogurt.  Delicious and tangy.  I think it tastes like Dannon yogurt.  This was great!  Once I get some fruit blended in there it will be super amazing.  Making my own yogurt is definitely the way I will be going in the future.  I would say it had 1 hour on hands work, and the product makes up for that easily.  I challenge you to give this a try and see just how rewarding it is to make your own yogurt.

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