Monday, March 18, 2013

Make Your Own Yogurt

While visiting India, I enjoyed homemade yogurt in different dishes. Some of my favorites were vegetables, yogurt, and spices mixed in a raita, curd rice served to aid digestion after a spicy meal, and shrikhand, saffron flavored sweetened strained yogurt, similar to Greek yogurt.

I started making my own yogurt after receiving an EasiYo yogurt maker from my aunt as a Christmas present.

EasiYo

The EasiYo yogurt maker is a thermal carafe with a container for yogurt that fits inside it. The space around the container is filled with boiling water to help the yogurt set. The yogurt maker came with powdered, instant yogurt mix. I enjoyed the initial packages. Since refills were not easily available, I adopted the following yogurt making technique using fresh milk, powdered milk, and a tablespoon of store bought yogurt with active cultures.

If you do not have an EasiYo, you can substitute an insulated water jug. As a test, I made two cups, a half batch of the following yogurt recipe, in my daughter's half-gallon Rubbermaid water cooler that she used for band practice. I put an empty, 8 ounce plastic yogurt cup in the bottom of the cooler topped with a one quart glass canning jar containing the heated milk and yogurt. I added boiling water, closed the container, and let it set.

Yogurt Culture

To start my yogurt the first time, I use a tablespoon of store bought yogurt with active cultures. Then the next time, I use a tablespoon of my old yogurt in the new batch. I also keep a tablespoon frozen. If I use all my yogurt or have a yogurt flop, I can thaw this tablespoon and use it for a new batch.

Dry Milk

Especially when using low-fat milk, the yogurt I made was thin; so I started adding dry milk to get a thicker result. I use instant nonfat dry milk from Aldi or Wal-Mart.

Sweet Yogurt

I usually make plain yogurt. For sweet yogurt, add sugar to room temperature milk before putting it to set. Try a half-cup sugar to 4 cups milk for a slightly sweet yogurt.

Boiling Milk

Be careful when you boil the milk to make the yogurt. When it gets hots, the milk rises very quickly. If you are not careful, the hot milk can easily spill over unto the stove and is a mess to clean up. After cleaning a sticky, milky stove a couple of times, I learned it is easier to watch the pot when heating milk than cleanup after it boils over.

I use a heavy 2 quart stainless steel pot that I have reserved for milk and sweets to heat milk for yogurt. Although I thought I cleaned my pots well, I had problems with funny tastes in my yogurt before I reserved a pot for this use.

The worst part of making yogurt is cleaning the dirty pot. I soak the pot and scrub it with steel wool and AJAX to get it clean.

Yogurt Flops

Occasionally yogurt fails to set because either the milk was not heated well enough or was too hot when the yogurt was added. If this happens, you can use the milk in pancakes or quiche.

Ingredients

4 Cups Milk, 2% or whole
1/2 Cup Dried Milk
1 Tbsp Yogurt with active cultures
1/2 Cup Sugar, optional
Directions
  1. Using a hand held blender, blend dry milk and 1 cup milk together.
  2. In a heavy pan on high heat, heat all the milk until it boils. Watch carefully to prevent it boiling over. You should see tiny bubbles forming around the edge of the pan. After this happens, the milk will rise quickly. Immediately, turn heat to low. If needed, lift pan from burner to prevent milk from boiling over.
  3. Heat milk on low for 1 minute.
  4. Allow milk to cool to room temperature. In container or jar, mix yogurt and milk. If desired, add sugar. Put container or jar in EasiYo or insulated container and surround with boiling water. Let sit for 8 hours. Store set yogurt in refrigerator.

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