Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Making yogurt

Captain's Log, Stardate 12.09.2008

A couple people have asked me about my making yogurt, which I started doing thanks to the French Women Don’t Get Fat book.

So here are pictures of my making yogurt!

It's definitely cheaper for me to make yogurt than buy it. I buy whole milk 2 gallons at a time, and at Safeway it's something like $2.50 per gallon if you buy two, versus $3.25 per gallon if you only buy one. (I’m not sure if those are the correct prices, but it’s close.)

I think I calculated it and for me to make eight 1/2 cup servings in my yogurt maker, it costs me a grand total of $0.50 or $1.00 for the entire batch!

Even if I bought only one gallon of milk at a time, the cost would still be a little cheaper than buying the yogurt premade.

The yogurt comes out better if I use fresher milk, so I usually make several batches as soon as we get the milk, and the yogurt lasts for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

I eat 2 or 3 yogurts a day, and Captain Caffeine also uses the whole milk for his lattes, so we use up the 2 gallons before the expiration date, no problem, even though it's just the two of us.

I like that my yogurt is entirely fresh and homemade without anything added to it. I've noticed even the "natural" brands sometimes add things to preserve the yogurt or thicken it.

I have the Donvier yogurt maker, which was featured in the French Women book. I got it mostly because it was being sold by the Captain’s coworker, so I got it used for $30 rather than the full price of $45 new.

I haven’t used any other yogurt makers, so if you find another brand that works for you, more power to you. I only got this one because I had an opportunity to buy it used. Some people have mentioned they find yogurt makers at GoodWill for really cheap, too.

First, I scald 4 cups of milk. I use the medium heat setting on my stove, and it scalds in 9 minutes (bubbles form around the edges and steam rises from the surface).


Then, I pour the milk into a bowl with a pour spout that I got from Crate and Barrel. The yogurt maker comes with a nifty stirrer thermometer that I leave in the milk.


I wait until the milk temperature goes down to between 110 and 115 degrees F (it takes about 35 minutes for me). The stirrer thermometer has a nice marking on it to tell me when the temperature is right to add the starter.


I put 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt from the last batch (or any plain yogurt you can buy at the store, but don't use sweetened or flavored yogurt) into one of the small containers of the yogurt maker. Then I add some of the warm milk. I stir thoroughly, then pour the mixture back into the large volume of milk, stirring as I pour it back. I mix the milk thoroughly.

Then I pour the milk into the eight containers of the yogurt maker, distributing the milk evenly. Each container holds a little more than half a cup. I used to measure when I started making yogurt, but now I can eyeball it.


I snap the little lids on each of the eight containers, then I put the large plastic lid on the entire machine.


I set the timer for however long I want to incubate it for. I usually do 8 hours because I like my yogurt less tangy. The instructions suggest 10, but you can do whatever you want.

I’ve tried incubating for more hours, but the yogurt just gets more tangy and it doesn’t make it more thick, so now I just do 8 hours.

After incubation (the machine will beep when it’s done), I refrigerate the yogurt.

My yogurt ends up being a bit liquidy, a little thicker than drinkable yogurt. You can thicken it by setting it in a cheesecloth over a colander, but I don’t want to go through the effort, to be honest, so I don’t do that.

I love it because the yogurt is a bit naturally sweet, so I add very little sugar to it when I eat it. Sometimes I don’t add sugar at all, it depends on my mood.

So now hopefully I’ve given you a picture of my yogurt making and you can decide if you want to take the plunge and try it for yourself.

The French Women book gives another option for making yogurt without a yogurt maker. You leave the milk (after you’ve stirred in the yogurt starter) in a cold oven (do NOT turn the oven on). Also put in a bowl of just-boiled water. Leave them in the oven for 8-10 hours.

3 comments :

  1. Wow- that sounds like a lot of work!

    I definitely think it's better health-wise to do things yourself rather than buying the over-processed junk they give you in the store.

    But I'm allergic to dairy (as is one of my kids) so I probably won't be trying it any time soon...

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  2. Avily - you should use goat's milk. My boys are allergic to cow's milk but goat's milk has different enzymes and is very safe. A completely different product.

    Hey Camy - love your pics. I have a yogurt maker but haven't used it yet. I also got it used but it didn't come with instructions, so thank you for yours. However, if you've never made a batch before, where do you get the initial starter? Or do you just use a boughten one?

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  3. Anita Mae, you can just use any plain yogurt you buy at the store. Thanks for mentioning it, I'll add that to my post.
    Camy

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