Sunday, January 25, 2009

Do You Like Warm Yogurt?

Now that we are making our own yogurt, I get to taste it in all stages of development. Bacteria are wonderful things. At least the bacteria that inhabit our yogurt are. They create a delicious tang from plain milk.

When I was a youth living in Switzerland, many years ago, I remember my host father tasting and re-tasting a bowl of milk he had fermenting on the kitchen counter. I thought he must have an awfully strange sense of what is edible. But now I like to sample my yogurt even before it has completely fermented and thickened. After coming off the stove and having some of last week's yogurt mixed in as a culture, it goes into a Styrofoam cooler with some jars of hot water. Hours later it is still loose and warm but I love the feel of it when I take a spoonful. Have you ever tried yogurt warm this way?

I'm still refining my yogurt recipe. What seems to work best is a mix of 3 1/4 cups grass-fed whole (cream top) milk and 1/2 cup half-and-half set over gentle heat in a heavy pot. I bring the milk up to just below the boiling point, or past 200 degrees Fahrenheit when the milk is just beginning to foam. This will take about 45 minutes. I then remove the pan from the heat and place it in the sink with cold water to bring the temperature of the milk down to 120 degrees, at which point I mix in about 2 tablespoons of last week's yogurt and pour the mix into a warm quart canning jar. The canning jar goes into a cooler with 2 jars of hot water and sits overnight.

Cooking the milk at a high temperature concentrates the protein and results in a thicker yogurt. The amount of bacteria you put in the milk has no effect on thickness. The yogurt is actually set after a few hours. But I like to give the bacteria more time to create that delicious tang.

9 comments:

Simple Guy said...

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http://citysimplicity.blogspot.com/

Kate said...

In our house we eat a ton of yogurt of all kinds, and I would love to try this, but how do you start the yogurt if you have no mother culture? Where do you get the bacteria to start with?

Ed Bruske said...

Simple Guy, we love brocolli pizza. I see your link and raise you one link.

Kate, you can purchase yogurt cultures online but it's much simpler than that. Just buy the best container of plain yogurt you can find at your grocer. Make sure the package indicates that it contains "active cultures." Use a couple tablespoons of this to start your own yogurt. You'll never have to buy yogurt again--just milk.

Kate said...

Of course, that makes sense. Does it matter which kind of milk you use--cow, sheep, or goat? I love me some sheep's milk yogurt. Is the bacteria the same in all of them?

Erica said...

I just made yogurt for the first time not that long ago. I did the same thing, tasted it in varying stages and was really surprised how well it tasted warm, haha :)

I made mine in the crock pot, it was pretty darn simple.

Ed Bruske said...

Kate,there are some differences in protein content between cow, sheep, goat milk. I have a neighbor who grew up on goat milk yogurt. Try it and see what happens.

Erica, great idea making it in a crock pot. Where did the yogurt go from there?

Skud said...

I've got a batch setting right now. I'm kind of grossed out by warm milk, though, so I'm not going to be tasting mine warm.

Kindal said...

Is it safe to eat warm yogurt if you did not make the yogurt yourself?

Ed Bruske said...

Kindal, you might ask whether eating anything you didn't make yourself is "safe." But I'm assuming what you mean is yogurt that's been left out of the fridge. And to that I'd have to say that yogurt, no matter who made it, is a biological process. I now leave my yogurt to cure out of the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Sometimes two days. Just to let the bacteria fully convert the lactose in the milk and give the yogurt a good tang. If it's really spoiled, you would likely see mold and detect an off odor.