Monday, August 30, 2010

Yogurt Making

There have been several times in the last several months when I've awakened with quite troublesome joint pain and have known it's the result of exposure to corn products.  I manage to avoid most corn products, but I've been sooooooo hungry for yogurt, and neither of our local grocery stores have any corn-free brands--they all contain corn syrup, corn starch, or both.  I've been thinking I really need to just make my own, and was about to do it last week with a dear friend's starter.  Then I realized that if I'm going to eat all those lovely lactobacillus goodies, that I want to be certain that one of them is L. bulgaricus--because that's one that is constantly being threatened by antibiotics and almost anything else that attacks.  So, this weekend I went into ABQ and visited Vitamin Cottage and purchased this:

I admit I know people who say they never start with anything except whole milk yogurt, but I was after these lovely probiotics:
and a 1:16 ratio of non-fat starter was fine. Although Brown Cow yogurt is made with pectin, I did not add any to my yogurt recipe, and it still turned out just fine.
I also purchased this:
because I wanted milk I could be sure is top quality (and I'll be saving a lot of the money I've been spending on yogurt).
I gathered my equipment:
 half gallon measuring cup--I love this one because it's tempered glass and the markings will never, ever wear off.  I've had it for years;
heavy, stainless steel cooking pot;
stainless steel mixing-bowl, much thinner than the cooking pot;
1/2 cup measuring cup (this is one of my favorite DeMarle measuring cups--they have magnets in the handles that keep them from getting separated in the drawer;
my candy thermometer; a whisk (next time I'm going to use the DeMarle heat resistant spatula instead); nine lovely little jelly jars and their lids; my Playmate cooler;
I poured a half gallon of the milk into the stainless steel pot and heated it on med-low (5 on my stovetop's scale of 10-1) until it reached 190 degrees according to the candy thermometer.  I've been told anywhere from 185-195 is sufficient, just keep it under the boiling point.  This is a higher temperature than I've used to scald milk in other recipes.  As it began heating I stirred it occasionally with the whisk, but next time I'm going to use the DeMarle heat resistant spatula because it will keep the bottom of the pot cleaner.  As the milk heated, I began stirring it constantly.  That process took about 15 minutes.
I put about two inches of cold water in the sink, set the mixing bowl in the water, and poured in the milk.  The reason I transferred the milk to the stainless steel bowl is that I needed to cool it to 120 degrees F., and the pot would have taken a lot longer than five minutes or so to cool.  (I allowed a bit of water to run down the drain so I could continue adding cold water to the sink; some people use ice water.) The lowest temperature shown on my candy thermometer is 130, so I had to estimate the 120 degrees.
When the scalded milk reached 120 degrees, I added one half cup of the plain yogurt and whisked until it was thoroughly mixed with the warm milk.  Then I filled two jelly jars, one for starter for next time, and one to use to make cheese. I used plain golden metallic Kerr lids for those two jars so I'd recognize that they were the plain ones, although if you opened a jar and didn't smell vanilla, you'd also know it was plain.

To the remainder of the milk & yogurt mixture, I added about a tablespoon of pure vanilla extract and seven packages of Stevia.  If you don't mind metabolizing sugar, you could add sugar instead.
I put about an inch of hot tap water (about 120 degrees) in the bottom of the playmate.
I filled the other seven jars, put the lids and rings on, and sat them in the bottom of the playmate. I added enough more hot water that it came up to just below the rings on the jars.
Then I closed the Playmate and set the timer for three hours.
 I was busy piecing a quilt, so I think it was about 3.5 hours before I realized the timer had gone off. The water in the cooler was still quite warm; I'd expected it to lose more heat in that time.
I set the beautiful finished jars of yogurt in the refrigerator and went back to piecing.
For dessert last night, I poured a yogurt over blueberries that were pretty tart, so I added another little packet of Stevia.  For breakfast I poured it over some strawberries and added a little blue agave syrup, which metabolizes more slowly than sugar. My lunch today included yogurt over fresh-sliced figs.

It's really hard to describe how creamy this yogurt is, despite the fact that I used 2% fat milk.
I can save one of the plain jars of yogurt for starter next time or (since I still have the rest of the Brown Cow plain yogurt that I can use for a starter), I can use both plain ones to make "cream cheese" by pouring the yogurt into a piece of cheesecloth, tying the top shut, and tying it to a wooden spoon balanced on top of a large mixing bowl and letting it drain.  It will taste every bit as good as cream cheese on our bagels but with much less fat.

If it's not too late in the canning season to find more jars, I'm going to look for slightly larger ones so that when I'm ready to eat my lunch, I can just add the fruit to the jar of yogurt.  Of course, at home I love to put the fruit in a pretty dish and dump the yogurt on top.

Without a cooler, I think the jars could be set into a warm water bath in a large crock pot set to "warm", but I think it would probably take two large crock pots for this amount.

This is soooooo much simpler than the yogurt makers I used a couple of decades ago where the yogurt had to be warm for 12 hours or so.
Ahhhhhh, the heavenly flavor and joy of eating........

1 comment:

Pokey said...

Mm-m, sounds good, and healthier for you, too!

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