homemade yogurt

Lately, it seems that I hear about a new "superfood" every other day or so, but honestly, I don't know if I am buying it. Are we handing out this title without merit, without truly thinking about what it takes to be "super"?  I think so.  You would probably never rub blueberries all over your (or your goats/sheep) body to get clean, and you certainly wouldn't want to give yourself an artichoke enema, and if you had a case of super-violent blasters no french doctor could cure (I'm talking to you King Francis I), I really doubt you'd have success by ingesting some olive oil.  As strange as it may seem, all these things were done using yogurt. plain old yogurt.  It's a fairly new food in the U.S., but it has been around for ages upon ages.  This is how I have been making it at home.

Ok, this is a really simple process, but there are a few key things that you have to do in order to ensure success.  The first thing you need to do is heat your milk up to 180F.  I use a candy thermometer because  it has a handy-dandy little clip that hooks onto the side of my pot. this process is called "denaturing" and is done to eliminate any bad bacteria that may live in the milk and prevent the formation of the good bacteria that lives in the yogurt and that your body needs. once you have heated the milk up to proper temp, it must be cooled down to between 105F-110F, so as not to kill the good guys in the yogurt we will add to the milk. now, it is time to add your culture (I do this by way of some organic, plain yogurt, but I think that you can actually get yogurt starters out there if you want, although I don't really know why you would...). this process is called "inoculating", and just means that you have invited the good bacteria to totally take over the milk party (i like to imagine them as the uninvited guests who bring an acoustic guitar to a house party).
Now, here is where it can get kind of tricky.  Your yogurt needs to stay at a pretty constant temp of 90-100F.  if it dips down below there, it will never really get thick enough, and you are going to end up with something like thick buttermilk.  My buddy John and I came up with the idea that if you added hot water to a cooler and then added the yogurt to it and closed the lid, that it would maintain a pretty decent temperature.  I've found this method to work really well.  
I always wrap the pot I heated my milk in with some plastic wrap, to help seal in the heat, and then I put the lid on.  This is also done in the rare event that an unsuspecting spouse/co-worker/roommate/raccoon/dog/albatross, disturbs the cooler and causes some sloshage.
set the wrapped and lidded yogurt pot into the hot water and make sure that it only comes up about 1/2-3/4 of the way.  you don't want any to sneak into the pot and ruin your end product. Now, go do something else. anything else, but think about your yogurt.  not for another good 8 hours at least.  I like to leave mine for around 12 + hours because I like it to be pretty tangy. the longer you leave it, the tangier it becomes.  the next day, portion it out into containers and refrigerate.  The end product is so versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory applications.  I like to eat mine with fresh fruit and granola or also with some onion, cucumber, tomato, etc. hope you give this a try.  it is a little involved but it is a fun one that has a big payoff. also, It makes quite a bit and keeps for a long time (3 weeks to a month!) so there is definitely enough to share with your homies. pieces.

otherstuffs:  I am having a go at "corning" my own beef brisket for st. Patty's day.  If it turns out, I'll post about it. Also, I finally got my eames lounge chair and have been enjoying it immensely (ultimate reading station achieved).  it's probably the reason for my lack of posts lately.  you'd understand if you sit in it...
homemade yogurt:
1/2 gallon whole milk (preferably organic)
1  6 oz. container plain yogurt (preferably organic) (I used stonyfield farm)
you will need
a pot big enough to hold the quantity you are making
a therm of some sort
a cooler big enough to fit the pot
Here's the do:
heat the milk to 180F stirring once in a while so it doesn't burn.  while that is going on, there are two things you need to do. first, fill your sink with iced water and a little salt (this makes the iced water colder, it's science..saw it on mythbusters) second, fill a cooler with hot water (I just use hottest water from the tap). once you have heated the milk to 180F, set the pot into the iced water and stir occasionally until it has cooled down to 105-110F. cover with plastic wrap and the lid to your pot and set into the cooler (or I guess in this case, the warmer) with the hot water.  if you overestimated the water level, simply take some of the water out until desired level is achieved.  now, it's just a waiting game.  leave at least 8 hours, or longer if you want more tang-age.
check out this link to yogurt cheese. it's good stuff, you should make some.  
DISH recommends: All-Clad 3.5 quart casserole. this little guy is one of my favorite pots.  I use it for small batches of soup, yogurt, blahblahblah. love it to pieces.  a little on the pricey side, but I will never buy anything but all clad for stainless.  it has proven itself very worthy of my hard earned clams.


Melissa said...

Love the homade yogurt. I use some of the last batch for the new batch starter. I am guessing that is what the stonyfield is for in your recipe? Are you going to cook that CB brisket in your pressure cooker? It will be it like butter......

the DISH said...

yeah, the stonyfield is in place of a little held back from a previous batch. I never thought about using the PC on the CB...just on low you think? any guess on how long?

Melissa said...

I did it for about 45 - 50 min. It was so moist and tender. Google to be sure.

Erin said...

I'm confused... Where does the 6 oz. of yogurt listed in the ingredients come into play? Aren't we *making* yogurt? I'm confused. :(

the DISH said...

Erin, the 6 oz container is there because I am assuming you don't already have some homemade yogurt to inoculate the milk with. Also, even when you are making yogurt regularly on your own, you will need to occasionally use a new "starter" as the yogurt tends to lose it's strength over time. Hope that helps.