In fact, there were several appealing yogurts I had never seen before, including this one called "siggi's," made in New York State but billing itself as an "Icelandic style" yogurt or "skyr." Of all the yogurts in the dairy case it boasted the largest selection of active cultures: Acidophilus, Delbrueckii Bulgaricus, Delbrueckii Lactis and Thermophilus.
Don't ask me what all of it means. Microbiology was not by best subject in college. I just wanted something more than the usual.
The way I've been making yogurt for the past several months is to add some of last week's yogurt to a pot of whole, unhomogenized creamtop milk, provided by grass-fed cows and delivered to our door by South Mountain Creamery in Western Maryland. The original culture for this yogurt came from a quart of Seven Stars Farm yogurt purchased at Whole Foods. Seven Stars, a biodynamic, organic operation located in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, makes a wonderful yogurt. But I was itching for something a little different.
The "skyr" has an additional depth of flavor. I can't put my finger on it exactly, but there's something about the tang that hints just a wee bit at a barnyard--in a pleasant sort of way. In addition, I planned on adding whole cream to this next batch of yogurt. Because we haven't ordered any cream for some time, and because my wife hoards the half-and-half for her coffee, I've been making yogurt with milk only and the result has been thinner, with more curdles. My wife insisted the curdles were a result of my overcooking the yogurt. But I knew better. I was convinced that re-establishing the cream in my formula would return us to thick, rich yogurt.
Can I take a moment to gloat?
I mixed 3 1/4 cups creamtop milk with 1/2 cup heavy cream in a heavy sauce pan and brought it slowly up to 195 degrees over gentle heat. That takes about an hour. I then monitored the pot very closely and kept the mix around that temperature for about 15 minutes. After removing the pot from the heat, I partially filled the kitchen sink with cold water and placed the pot in it, stirring the milk until the temperature dropped to 120. At that point I mixed in 1 tablespoon of last week's yogurt and 1 tablespoon of "skyr." I then poured the mix into a warm quart canning jar and placed it along with two other canning jars filled with hot water in a small cooler. There the yogurt sat overnight, giving the bacteria plenty of time and a cozy, warm nest in which to get busy.
I showed the finished yogurt to my wife the next morning and she was convinced. It was the thickest, creamiest, tastiest yogurt we have ever made. I don't see much room for improvement, and I consider the $3 I spent on that 6-ounce container of "skyr" a valuable investment.