Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Recipe for Homemade Yogurt

Yogurt (especially plain white homemade yogurt!) is one of my Elizabeth's favorite foods!
I use the "recipe" in the Fannie Farmer Cookbook – it's so simple:
2 Tbsp of plain white yogurt in 2 quarts of milk (That's it!)
If something goes wrong (and that has happened to me only twice that I can remember), you'll end up with "sour milk" that can be used in baking waffles, pancakes, etc.
Making Yogurt
(adapted from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook – and edited with notes and confessions that will hopefully keep you from making mistakes I’ve made…)

Heat 2 quarts of milk to the boiling point (for just 1 minute). (I don’t actually let the milk boil; I just let it start to look "bubbly" so I know it's gotten hot enough. I’m not scientific about this – and I definitely don’t stand by the stove with my stopwatch! You know: “A watched pot never boils!”)
Cool to 115 degrees F. (I’ve never used a food thermometer – like I said: I’m not very scientific about this! And Fannie Farmer probably wasn’t either! I just let the milk cool until I can hold my finger in it and count to ten. However! When I let it cool too much, the yogurt didn’t set.)
Gently mix in 2 Tbsp of fresh plain yogurt, i.e. the starter. (Make sure it’s mixed in thoroughly! I usually put the yogurt starter in the glass measuring bowl I used to measure the milk. When the milk in the pan is cool enough, I mix about a half cup with the starter, then another half cup, then the rest of the milk. Otherwise, in my experience, the starter stayed at the bottom of the bowl, and the yogurt didn’t set!)
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place. Wrap a thick towel over the bowl to prevent drafts. Fannie Farmer says that an ideal temperature of about 110 degrees F will hasten the incubation. (The “warm place” that works best for me in winter is the back of the stove when the oven is on. In the summer, I just place the wrapped bowl on the kitchen counter.)
The yogurt should be ready in five to eight hours. Tilt the bowl (gently!) to see if the yogurt holds together. It should then be chilled for at least three hours, and it will “firm up” even more. (I like to make the yogurt in the late morning, let it incubate in a warm place all day, and put it in the fridge before I go to bed.)
Important notes:
– I am “scientific” in my measuring! As Fannie Farmer says: If the yogurt sets for too long, or if you use too much starter, the yogurt will be watery.
– Because this yogurt does not contain pectin or gelatin, it won’t have the same consistency as “store-bought” yogurt, i.e. it will be “watery” and the whey in it will be obvious after you scoop some out. I either mix the whey back in or drain it off with a spoon (and mix it with Elizabeth’s cereal. She loves it!)
Just today, I saw another recipe for Crock Pot Yogurt. It requires more ingredients, but I'm thinking of trying it.

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