Yo, Yogurt!

So I’ve been making my own yogurt.

In Dublin I use a wide-mouth flask [thermos] and put it in my hot press [airing cupboard] overnight. (This is the type of translating I do in my head a lot when I am in Canada, trying to remember which term to use. I don’t always get it right.)

For now I am using a Salton yogurt maker. It is a nifty little thing with 5 glass jars and plastic lids. It wasn’t expensive at a garage sale. We’re missing one lid so use cling film [Saran wrap] (see?) and that works fine.

The method for using a flask or the yogurt maker is the same: heat milk to scalding (180° F/83° C) and then let it cool down to warm, about blood temp (110-115° F/45° C). Then stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons of yogurt that you already have, pour into the jars in their warmer and leave it plugged in overnight. Be sure all pots and utensils are clean — I boil a bit of water in mine beforehand, putting in the whisk and spoon that I’ll be using. 

That’s it. Like a good holiday, it just needs heat and time.

For the cost of milk, you have a quality, natural yogurt. You can add vanilla, fruit, and any toppings you love.

The only challenge about making yogurt is being present enough to remember to:

  • save a couple of tablespoons in the last jar for the next batch, but don’t leave it too long: you want your starter to be fresh too
  • not let the milk boil over or burn
  • not let it cool right back to room temperature (like I did last time. I re-heated it to the correct temp and set it up for the night. At 11.00 pm I wasn’t going to fuss over it. It was grand [great]).

Update: I am back in Dublin and just started making yogurt again, using my wide mouth flask. This time, after it’s rested overnight in the hot press, I’ve drained it using a very fine sieve (cheesecloth also would work). The result is a creamy smooth loveliness.

I hated to throw out the whey left over from draining (about 1 hour) so I looked up what to do with it. I was right not to ditch this protein-packed liquid: it is great in smoothies, pancakes and I’ve just used it instead of water in the bread I’m baking. Also, this acidic whey (different to sweet whey, which is the by-product of cheese) can be used to make sauerkraut or a sourdough starter, feed plants (tomatoes and hydrangeas are two that particularly love it), make ricotta cheese or creme fraiche, instead of water or milk in your porridge, or — conveniently — as the starter for your next batch of yogurt (use about double the amount of liquid whey).

Acidic whey will keep at least three weeks in the fridge although if you’re using it as a yogurt starter then it is best used within a week. My flask holds 750 ml and I get about 350 ml drained whey from it. The flask is well-washed after use but before I use it again, I give it a very good rinse with boiling water.

This website, Secrets of a Home Economist, had lots of helpful ideas and links.

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