Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Apparently I found a new template... I think I like it. More "Prairie Sky"-like.


So I've been making yoghurt again lately. It was something I'd fallen out of the habit of doing, actually for so long that I'd forgotten exactly how it's done. I looked up the instructions, and made a batch up, quick as that.

Now, almost every recipe says to heat the milk to 185 degrees, and I never figured out why. I always assumed that it was to kill any pathogens, but since we buy pasteurized milk that wasn't a concern. (Not that it would be much of a concern anyway, if I could find myself raw milk from a local farmer, but that's not the point of the story.) In any case, not being the adventurous type, I always followed those directions to the letter.

Except last time. Last time I rebelled. "Self," I said, "Branch out. Live large. Try heating that milk to a mere 110 and see what happens."

What happens, dear readers, is yoghurt soup. It's got all the tangy bacterial stuff goin' on, but it doesn't thicken. So I went web-picking, and found out that this is because:

"At that temp (referring to 185 degrees), the whey proteins will denature and coagulate to enhance the viscosity and texture."
- Some ask-a-question site.

There you have it. This afternoon, I, much chastened, heated my milk to 185. I like my yoghurt thick.

I know that sometime in my distant past I posted a how-to on yoghurt making, but in case any one round these parts wants to know, here it is again.

You need:

Milk, about as much as you'd like to see turn into yoghurt.
Plain yoghurt, as stuffed full of pro-biotics as you can find, a few tablespoons or so.
Cooking thermometer.
Cheesecloth (optional).

In a large saucepan, slowly heat the milk to 185 degrees, stirring occasionally so it doesn't cook to the bottom. When I got it there this time, I turned off the burner and put the lid on for a few minutes, which supposedly enhances the thickening process. (I'll let you know how that works out later.)

Once that heat has been reached, set the pan into a few inches of cold water in the sink. Cool it to 110 degrees. Take it out of the water. Stir in your yoghurt, which will start the bacterial process.

Keep your lidded yoghurt warm for at least 8 hours, or better yet, overnight. I've done this overtop a heating vent in the winter when the furnace is going all the time, with a cardboard box over the saucepan to keep the heat in. (This is why you need to keep the lid on, so you don't enrich your yoghurt with dust.) I've also done it by turning the light on in the oven overnight, covering the stove-top vent, and letting it do its time there. Right now my yoghurt is on the outside railing, where the sun was pretty strong. That's about to change, and I notice the sky is already getting dark, so maybe I'll try Chive's idea of putting it in the big cooler with a hot water bottle.

After it's had its working time, you can either just use it as is, or strain it with cheesecloth. I did that the time before last, and quite liked the extra "dryness" of the end product. I put the whey on the compost heap. Does anyone else have any other ideas for it?

Then put the yoghurt into whatever container suits your fancy. Not so hard, huh?


voixd'ange said...

I love making yogurt, but I take the easy way out and use starter and a machine.
But either way it taste a bizillion times better and is so much more fun to eat when it is the product of your own kitchen!

Mary Anne said...

Your original yogurt post was one of my all-time faves; it makes me chuckle, still.

CG said...

I've never heated my milk (albeit using raw milk) and never had much of a problem. When I used goat milk, I sometimes added powdered milk to up the protein solids. But generally, if I've left it long enough, it firms up. Maybe you have to pour the whey off and maybe you strain it to make it more solid, but I personally wouldn't want to be heating raw milk up like that because then you lose every benefit of raw. (I know, you are using pasteurized & homogenized milk, not raw -- just sayin').

As to the whey, yes! Feed it to your chickens or kitties! Or anything else you might have.

kiwi said...

Hi Madcap - whey is full of live lactobacillus acidophilus and is very good for you. It makes a nice drink, you can drink it as is or when it is cold. It could also be added to smoothies. It is an excellent replacement for milk in any baking you might be doing and will give you a great result in cakes, scones or biscuits. It can be added to sauerkraut, relish or pickles to add live culture to those foods.

Madcap said...

Now I'm trying this again-again... Blogger just ate my replies 2X!

v d'a: Nice to see you! You know what else is nice about making your own? It's about half the price, and doesn't add another plastic container into the mix!

Mary Anne - Do you have a really amazing memory, or do you know where to find that post? If you know where it is, I wouldn't mind seeing it!

CG - So you just add culture to raw milk and let it go? Does it need to be held at a warmish temperature while it does that? My kitties turn up their noses at whey - I'll let the rabbits try a lick. No chickens this year - next year in Jerusalem!

Kiwi - Thanks for the tips! It really never occurred to me to use it in cooking or baking, but now I'm smacking my head - of course!

Mary Anne said...

Oh, no, I haven't the faintest where to find the original post, sorry. Nor do I remember it in any real detail, just that I giggled and snorted my way through it, and reread it several times because I found it so amusing.

CG said...

The whey is also a good soup base, but of course use it in anything cooked and you are gonna lose the bacteria . . . And all's I can say about your cats is that they must be too fat if they turn up their noses at whey! Although then again, we're talking yogurt whey which is probably more acidic than mozzarella whey which is what mine love . . . whether or not I've made ricotta with it. I'm also figuring you don't actually have a great deal of whey -- not like 2 gallons after making cheese but only a cup or two.

Just as a note, we needed to buy cheese cloth yesterday, the gauzy kind, and where was it? Hardware. Not kitchen gadgets, not canning stuff, not even kitchen saran wrap stuff, no but hardware with the tacky cloth!

Oh, as to your question, yes, I've added culture to raw milk and let it go. I do keep it warm, and to an extent the warmer the better (110F is better than 80F, well, faster and less likely to get an off flavor from stray bacteria). I know such a thing would scare the Dept of Agriculture and food safety types to death but really, if it grows the wrong bacteria, it is obvious.

clairesgarden said...

I have made yoghurt and kept it warm in a wide neck flask.....the flask did always retain that 'flavour' though so was only ever used for that until its demise. I should get another one, i do like plain unsweetened yoghurt and that is difficult to get locally here.

Juliana said...

I haven't experimented enough making yogurt, though I have made it now a handful of times. The problem is, I'm addicted to cream-top yogurt! If you know how to make that one, let me know!

I'm not much of a runny yogurt fan either, though it tastes pretty good if I throw in a handful of granola!

CG said...

I haven't had commercial cream top yogurt, but I'd guess if you make yogurt with unhomogenized milk with fat in it, it will be cream top. We generally cream the milk before we make yogurt, the cream being so valuable in other uses (butter particularly).