Ok, I did another batch of yogurt and as promised, here is the tutorial. Now, I have a specific yogurt maker that is no longer made, but you can use any method that keeps your yogurt incubating at around 110-112° or so. Acrockpot heated and turned off, then wrapped in blankets, a thermos, or an oven with a pilot light might be viable options if you don?t have a yogurt maker.
Before You Start
The concept behind yogurt is simple. You just put milk and bacteria from a starter together and let the bacteria do its job. The fussy bit is the temperature. And finding the ?right? temperature is a pain in the butt. Every single recipe I found offered a different temperature! I did it with one that recommended heating the milk to 200° F and then cooling to 130° and while it worked, the result was less than spectacular. This recent batch, I kept at a lower temp and it worked fine. The end decision? I think if you heat milk to hot and then cool it to lukewarm, you pretty much have a winning combination. But I?ve included temperatures just in case.
You can buy yogurt starters or make your own using a favorite plain yogurt. I use Lait, which is available here in Guatemala and is a yogurt that my kids like. It?s not super gelled, but they enjoy it runny-ish. Supposedly, you look for yogurt without sugar. I couldn?t find any around here, so mine had sugar in it.
You are also supposed to look for ?live cultures? on the container . . . I couldn?t find that, either! However, my container said ?contains pro-biotics,? which I assume are alive (and apparently I assumed correctly since it worked). Most yogurts should have live cultures in them, especially if they are plain.
Once you make your first batch, you will have your own culture, just save a few spoonfuls of your yogurt for the next batch. I found this actually worked better than the store-bought stuff. They say that after several batches, the bacteria weaken, so you?ll need new starter. To prevent having to buy a whole new container of yogurt every time you want to restart things, just freeze the first one. Heck, you could even freeze some of your first couple of batches to keep the bacteria on hand. It doesn?t hurt them. Here?s how I do mine:
I use mini silicon loaf tins that are about 1×3? and froze the yogurt in them, then dumped the blocks into a Ziploc bag and tossed it back in the freezer. Let this thaw at room temp. I wouldn?t recommend heating it to thaw, because you could kill your cultures.
Also, I recommend having a cute helper hang out with you while making yogurt.
I use powdered milk. You can use regular milk if you want.
How to Make Yogurt (in a Salton Thermostat Controlled Yogurt Maker)
4 c. milk
2-3 Tblsp. yogurt
Step 1: Mix your milk, if you?re making powdered milk. Add a little extra powder than is called for. You can also add a 1/4 cup of milk powder to regular milk to help it set up a bit more.
Step 2: Heat your milk slooooooowly in a pot to around 180° F/83° C. Stir it frequently to keep the milk from burning to the bottom. You could also use a double boiler, but I?m too impatient for that.
Step 3: Once your milk hits the top temp, turn off the stove and go take a shower or play with the baby, whatever you want until the temperature drops to somewhere between 112-120° F/45-49° C.
Step 4: Put your yogurt starter in a bowl.
Step 5: Mix 1/2 cup of your warm milk with the starter until smooth.
Step 6: Add the starter mixture to the pot of milk.
Step 7: Mix that baby WELL. It can cause setting issues if you don?t get it thoroughly mixed in. Remember that the bacteria need to be nicely spread out through the milk, especially if you are putting it into smaller containers, like I do.
Step 8: Pour your mixture into whatever container(s) you are using. These should be preheated. I turn on my yogurt maker when I start heating the milk so it?s ready for this step.
Step 9: Let those cultures culture! How long will depend on the temperature of your kitchen, the starter and who knows what else. Recommended time is 12 hours, but my first batch took about 18 hours and the second one was about 15. It?s fine to let it go longer, so if it?s starting to thicken but still isn?t quite ready, you can just leave it at the warm temperature for longer. Even 24 hours. The longer you leave yogurt out, the more pronounced the tangy taste will be.
Step 10: Don?t erase photos off your camera before eating the yogurt and realizing you no longer have a picture of the end result for your tutorial. True story. (oh, and you can put your yogurt in the fridge now)
Stay tuned for more tutorials . . . I?ve got homemade soda, sauerkraut and cheater?s jam on the go, too!