February 26, 2012

Yogurt (1 Comment)

Filed under: In the Kitchen — The Spider Herself @ 6:47 pm

I’ve been making my own yogurt for awhile.  No, not consistently but it’s something I try to do fairly often.  Since I have causally mentioned this fact in conversation I’ve had hordes of people asking me how I make it.  A “horde” is two people, right?  Do I need to add that to my dictionary for you illiterate people?  I then decided to make a tutorial like them big, fancy blogs with pictures and everything.

I had seen recipes on the internet that helpfully suggested incubating the yogurt in your oven and that the pilot light would provide enough heat for the little bacteria to work.  After examining my electric oven all over I decided this option would not work for me.  Then I saw one where she used her crock pot to incubate her yogurt.  (She now uses a different method- read about it here.) But this method struck me as taking a long time- especially heating the milk up.  I also don’t have a crock pot with a removable insert so I would have to put the whole thing in the fridge because I think it’s important to let it get cold before disturbing it.  Then I came across someone- I wish I could remember who so I could give credit- who said a cooler would work well for keeping the yogurt warm as it fermented.  A light bulb went off and my yogurt making days began.

For some reason I decided to try this recipe for Armenian Yogurt.  Maybe it sounded exotic?  But I don’t follow the recipe exactly anymore.  I’m just a Recipe Rebel.

First I heat 4 cups of milk.


I put the thermometer in to keep an eye on the temperature.   The recipe says to bring it to a boil but I have read that it only needs to be heated to 180 degrees.  I try to make sure I am near the stove while I am doing this.  One batch was made unusable by my lack of attention.  I read also that if the milk is held at about 180 degrees for awhile then the yogurt will be creamier.  I’ve tried to do that these last two batches but rushed it a bit with this batch.

I made this while I was watching the milk.


I try to remember to put some boiling water into the jars I am going to use.  I managed to do so this time mostly because I was trying to impress you.  The yogurt has turned out fine even when I have forgotten this step.


I take the milk off the element


and add the heavy cream.  As you can see, I make sure to measure accurately.  Some people use dry milk to make their yogurt creamier.  It might surprise some people but I have a heavy cream addiction.  Therefore, it’s always on hand.  I also am not afraid of fat and would go so far as to say it’s good for you.


I then let it cool to 115-110 degrees.  I take out a bit of the milk and add the yogurt starter.  I have been using less then the original recipe calls for- usually 2 Tablespoons to a 1/4 cup.


Then I stir it into the milk.   And pour it all into the jars.


I heat a rice bag in the microwave as I do this.  Then put the jars into the cooler with the bag.


And then towels to fill in the open spaces.


Put the lid on and let it sit around.  Most recipes say to let it sit for 8 hours.  I have done it for as short as 4 and as long as 24.  Some people say that after 24 hours the bacteria have eaten up all the sugar in the milk.   If I leave it for a long time, I will heat up the rice bag again.


When the time is up I take the jars out of the cooler and put them in the fridge.  You can see that it is very thick.


I leave it in the refrigerator overnight.


Here it is after it’s been in the fridge for awhile.


The kids really like it.  I was a bit worried there wouldn’t be enough left from my last batch as they ate it almost all up.   When I buy yogurt for starter I have been freezing some of it to have on hand in case my starter stash gets eaten or if I leave it go too long between batches.  I sometimes drain the whey off to make a thicker yogurt or cheese.  I use the whey as a substitute for buttermilk in baked goods.

That’s it.

Armenian Yogurt

Original recipe from : http://www.thegutsygourmet.net/yogurt-recipe.html

4 cups milk

2 Tbl. – ¼ cup yogurt starter (plain yogurt- make sure it has “live” cultures)

2 cups (or so) heavy cream (optional)

Heat the milk to 180 degrees.  Take off heat and add cream.  Let cool to 115-110 degrees.  Take some out of the pan and stir in the yogurt starter.  Add starter mixture to the rest of the milk and stir.  Pour into containers.  Put into cooler and let sit for 8 hours or longer.  Put containers into refrigerator until cold and ready to serve.