Lately we have been consuming yogurt and kefir to increase our digestive health. There are many things in this world to ingest that are tantalizing to the taste buds, but not for the digestive tract. We are trying to remedy some of that. So, does that mean if you eat yogurt and kefir it negates the affects of potato chips and Cheetos? Probably not. But, until they are no longer available, we do enjoy a bag of chips now and then.
We have made yogurt off and on for years. Sometimes it 'makes' and sometimes it is runny. I find it works better if I add a cup of powdered milk to increase the milk solids. The other challenge is to make it where Frank will eat it. He doesn't care for the tangy taste that yogurt gets if it is allowed to culture very long, so we have been eating store bought for a while. But I decided to try again.
I buy my yogurt culture online. There are numerous places you can buy it. You can also buy plain yogurt at the store and use a few tablespoons of it to culture a new batch. As I mentioned in the kefir post, one of the problems with yogurt is that eventually, you will have to get some new culture to continue making it. From this batch I made I will keep out a few tablespoons to start the next batch. But as my back up, I keep extra packets of culture in the freezer for when I need additional fresh culture to keep our yogurt going. This time, since I had not made yogurt in a while, I am using some of the culture I bought. It is a simple process, so I'm not sure why sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
First, heat the milk to 180 degrees. This kills off any competing bacteria, so the yogurt culture can grow. I've always wondered about this step. I don't like killing off the natural bacteria in my raw milk, but everything I have read indicates this is necessary to successfully produce yogurt.
While the milk is heating, I get out my YogurMet and plug it in. There are styrofoam versions of this that don't require
electricity. When I bought this, I didn't realize there were. The only
thing this does is keep the yogurt at a consistent temperature while it
cultures. I put a cup and half of 110 degree water in this vessel. The
water surrounds the tub when it is put in the YogurMet. This helps keep
the temperature consistent. It would probably work just fine even if I
didn't plug it in.
As the milk is heating, I add a cup of powdered milk. If I don't add the extra milk solids, the yogurt will be more of a drinkable consistency, instead of more pudding like.
After the milk has heated, you can leave it sitting until the temperature decreases to about 110 degrees. I put my pot in a sink of cold water and stir it around to expedite the process. Otherwise, I will wander off and forget to check it, then it will be too cold and require more heating. I have learned this from experience.
After the milk has cooled I pour it into the culturing tub. To adequately dissolve and disseminate the culture, pour the culture powder into a small bowl, add a little of the heated milk and stir until it is thoroughly mixed and the culture grains dissolve.
Then pour the culture into the tub with the milk and stir very well, for about a minute, to make sure the culture is well distributed. If you don't, there may be pockets of milk that don't thicken up as well as others.
There have been times when I checked the consistency of the yogurt and it was still rather runny, so I left it a little longer. I have also added more culture. Then I found out that neither technique will result in a thicker product, it will just create a tangier flavor, which is not what we wanted. I have learned to watch the time more carefully and follow the directions on the culture package. Surprisingly, some cultures call for different amounts of time. This one indicates four to four and half hours. The last time I made this, four hours was not quite enough, so I use the four and a half hour time frame. This time I set the alarm so I would not forget to put it in the refrigerator at the right time.
It turned out a good consistency, thinner than store bought, but not runny.
I set aside some of the plain yogurt to save for culturing the next batch. Then I put it all in the frig. As it cools, it stops the culturing process.
We like sugar and vanilla to flavor our yogurt. For this 2 quart tub, I added 2/3 cup sugar.
And 2 capfuls of vanilla. Yes, capfuls. In other words, I take the lid off of the vanilla bottle and fill it up twice. I used to use a measuring spoon, but realized the cap was just about the same, so I use it instead. Stir it up very well to dissolve the sugar. It's edible right away, but I like it better after it sits for a while first.
This is another instance of really enjoying something made from our ingredients with the least amount of additives. Skimmed goat milk, powdered milk, culture, sugar and vanilla. And it's good for you to boot. And sometimes, Frank will even eat it.
Until next time - Fern