Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seriously Folks, Don't Buy a Yogurt Maker

Put down the $100 "gourmet" yogurt maker with automatic digital temperature control. Back away slowly. Now come with me....

I admit the process looks difficult, considering I dedicate five paragraphs to it below. But really it's quite easy and takes almost no time. This is the fancy equipment required to make yogurt at home:

A pot
A spoon or whisk
A clean glass jar (such as an old pickle jar), or thick glass/ceramic bowl
A medium towel or blanket
It is also helpful (but not mandatory) for you have a candy thermometer (sold for $5 in grocery stores)

Ingredients (can be scaled up or down; it is only dependant on the size of your jar):

4 cups milk* (any fat content you want)
1 heaped tbsp plain yogurt (this is your starter)
* don't use lactose-free milk: this will cause your yogurt will fail

So here's what you do:

In the pot, bring the milk up to froth. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer for two minutes.

Remove from heat and insert thermometer; allow to cool, undisturbed, until the temperature reaches 106-109°F. This may take 15-30 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is. If you don't have a thermometer, test the milk by sticking your pinky finger in. If you can just hold it in the milk for a 10-count, the milk is ready. Take care not to let the milk get too cold; the yogurt can fail if it's not close to this temperature.

While waiting for the milk to cool, put the starter yogurt in your jar and beat it with a spoon or whisk until it is liquid and free of lumps. Once the milk is the right temperature, add a tbsp or two and blend thoroughly to warm up the yogurt. Now add the remainder of the milk and stir/whisk (I put the lid on my jar and give it a few shakes).

Put a lid or cover or plastic wrap on your jar/bowl/whatever. Wrap the towel around it and stick it in a cupboard or other draft-free hideaway. Wait 8 to 12 hours (overnight); longer aging increases the yogurt's sourness.

Store yogurt in the refrigerator. Yogurt will keep for about a week. You can use this yogurt to start your next batch.

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