Monday, February 8, 2010
Week Two: Yogurt, again, still
And now we get to the part where I had a simultaneously brilliant and stupid idea. Earlier in the week, while making rice, I thought, “Shazam! We have a rice cooker!” It’s a fancy modern one, too, because I accidentally and regrettably killed the old one. It seemed like the perfect incubator. Surely the “keep warm” setting would do the trick.
The rice cooker failure got me thinking about the possibilities of using the crock-pot, and then a friend commented with the same suggestion, and it was like “shazam!” all over again, because one quick online search revealed scads of crock-pot yogurt recipes. One of the first that popped up was from the consistently awesome Crockpot365 lady, which I found greatly reassuring.
My big beef with these recipes, though, is that they call for leaving the milk in there on “high” for two and a half hours, which makes no sense to me in terms of either efficiency or energy use. If the primary advantage of the crock-pot is to keep the proto-yogurt warm enough to gel overnight, then why not just pre-heat it?
Back on the couch, my husband asked if there was more to do, and I said, no, this is the part where I hope fervently that it works, go to bed, and check it in the morning.
It’s a good thing it’s not possible to OD on yogurt. It’s gorgeous, creamy, delicious and definitely full-on yogurty. I stirred, refrigerated, and strained it, and immediately had some, warm, with bananas and cereal. I’ll definitely be making yogurt on a regular basis – not only is it at least four times cheaper than buying it, but I’ll know exactly what’s in it, and it will be mild enough to eat plain.
A few final notes for those who will want to know:
- When I finally succeeded, I used ultra-pasteurized milk, which isn’t supposed to work.
- I used one 8-oz. tub of Greek-style honey vanilla yogurt as starter. Now that I’ve been successful, I’ll be using my own yogurt as starter.
- To strain it, I used paper-towel-lined strainers over stockpots and bowls.
- I didn’t time the straining process, just kept checking it until I was happy with it.
- I learned, during my further research, that it is important to stir the yogurt before you refrigerate it – it helps stop the bacteria from reproducing, which keeps the flavor mild.
- I did not believe it, but it’s true: the yogurt will firm up quite a bit in the fridge.
- One half-gallon of milk made roughly 32 ounces of Greek-style yogurt, but if you don't strain yours, you'll end up with as much yogurt as the amount of milk you used.
- Here are a few recipes and sites I found helpful: brief but helpful explanations of the whys and hows; great detailed step-by-step with nice photos and crisp layout; a scholarly approach from the University of Kentucky.