Thursday, May 17, 2012

Making Yogurt

Making yogurt is stupid easy and cheap. You need milk and yogurt. Costco sells two gallons of full fat milk for about $5. I picked up a container of organic yogurt for less than a buck. You only need to buy the yogurt once, so opt for a variety with as many active cultures as possible. I found one with eight. 

The process: 

1. Heat up your milk to 160° F, or just until it's about to boil. I use a meat thermometer to measure the temperature.

2. Once the milk is hot enough, turn off the stove and let the milk cool to about 110°. It'll take a while.  

3. Add a tablespoon or so of your yogurt and mix it in.

4. Now you have to maintain this temperature, which is kind of tough. We have a gas oven with a pilot light, so it's always warm. Putting the lid on the pot and closing the oven door is enough for me. You might need to wrap the pot in a blanket for added insulation.

5. Keep your soon-to-be yogurt at 110° for 6-8 hours. The longer you let it sit, the more sour it will become.

6. And boom, you've got gallons of yogurt. Save some of your yogurt to use as a culture in the next batch. 

If you mess up and don't end up with yogurt, just squeeze a lemon into your milk mixture and stir until curds form. Drain off the liquid (or save it, I like whey) and you're left with farmer's cheese, essentially Indian paneer.

To make Greek yogurt, drain your yogurt through cheese cloth. I like to keep my yogurt relatively thin so it's drinkable. My favorite is to mix it with salt and ground cumin for a savory lassi.

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