Sunday, March 25, 2012

On Yogurt Making

It seems as though almost everyone I know is making yogurt in their crock pot nowadays.  Easy and oh-so-yummy-goodness, plus less expensive than store bought. At the risk of arriving a little late to the party, here is the basic plan.

1. Pour 8 cups of milk into the crock pot. (Not ultra-pasteurized. We buy ours from a local dairy farm. YUM.) 
2. Cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.
3. Let sit for 3 hours.
4. Stir in 1/2 C plain yogurt (starter), wrap in a heavy towel or blanket and let sit for 8 hours.

I start my yogurt at 4:30, set the crock pot timer for 2 1/2 hours AND the kitchen timer for 5 1/2 hours (explanation follows).  When the kitchen timer goes off at 10:00, I stir in the starter and go to bed.

Whey and yogurt
5. After 8 hours is up, leave as is or, for creamier yogurt, place a colander in a bowl and line with cheese cloth. Pour yogurt into colander and let it strain for the day or so.

I personally like to let it strain for about a half a day to a day until it's the consistency I want. (Read it depends on when I remember I have yogurt draining in my fridge.) Then I take a large spoon and scoop 1/2 C into a small container to use as a starter in the next batch and then transfer most of the rest of it into a container with a lid.  In the bowl under the colander, you are left with whey which is worth keeping. (Find uses here.)  The remaining thicker yogurt still in the cheese cloth I allow to continue to strain to make yogurt cheese.  It is like cream cheese, but more tart.  You can experiment with adding salt or herbs to it.  Yum.

Note: Some people say that you should always start with a fresh (store bought) yogurt        starter. I have been saving my own yogurt as a starter for months now with no problems.

This is so stinkin' easy it's ridiculous.  The hardest part is remembering to stir in the starter and strain it in the morning (hence the setting of the kitchen timer.)  Last time I made yogurt, I forgot to do both.  When I went to pour it out the next evening, it actually looked like yogurt, not really sure what it was.  Ben jokingly suggested using one of the kids as a guinea pig to test it. Tempting, but seeing as how that could possibly end with me caring for aforementioned sick guinea pig, I decided against it.

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