Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bugs are in the milk! (yoghurt making)

Wow! Just started and I am already behind! Obviously I am spending too much time making these posts into the highly polished works of art that.........yeah, OK.

YOGHURT!! Love it (my own version), the store bought......not as much. Too much stuff in it like sugar, thickeners and nasty fruit slimy stuff. And making your own is really cheap and easy. Just be careful that you don't get sucked into the old fermentation addiction. Before you know it you'll be making your own cheese, beer (beer, ohhhhhh) and the list goes on.

Here is how.

TONS of info from someone who really knows what's up. My stuff is pretty much the same as shown in his yoghurt process. There are lots of other tutorials for yoghurt making out there and most are a lot better than this one. There are a few steps that other people skip, but i f you want a good and consistent outcome, this is where you learn.

yoghurt making at home supplies
On your mark!
I make two quarts at a time, so you need:
  •  Two 1 qt jars (duh) with lids. I use canning jars, but don't think that this is real canning or anything. This stuff still needs to be refrigerated. 
  • A ghetto double boiler (not really necessary, but is a lot easier, so find some pots that will work for this)
  • A thermometer that reads up to 200f or so. I have used a meat thermometer in the past (worked fine).
  • Milk. Quality matters. I use whole milk (non-fat anything is crap, don't go there) that I just buy at the grocery store for $3/gal. I have used the stuff from Walmart before and it made a thinner, grainy yoghurt. That might have been from the milk or it might have been from the yoghurt starter or something else, I don't know. I plan to use REALLY good milk someday, but for the last three years....
  • Bugs. I use a small container of store bought yoghurt. I have also tried pro-biotic capsules and they worked all right. Store yoghurt is fresh (this is important) and easy to get. Look at the ingredients. As Michael Pollen says, buy real food. Plain. No thickeners. It is hard to find anything that isn't non-fat and sweetened (hell-in-a-handbasket, gakk!). I have had good results using the plain generic variety and less optimal results using fancy stuff. What has consistently worked well (with one caveat), has been......
    Brown Cow yoghurt used as a yoghurt starter
    The only time that it has resulted in a less than a stellar product was when I used some that was 1/2 off at the end of it's expiration days. It still tasted fine but the yoghurt ended up kind of grainy and thin. It costs like $0.79 and will make a whole gallon of yoghurt. It's worth it. I debate.....should I send the company a note of thanks for making a quality product that really helps me save money, by making my own yoghurt, so I don't have to buy the expensive store bought yoghurt, that they make, that is really good........round and round we go.

Get set!
Measure out the amount of yoghurt that you want to make. Leave room at the top for the extra amount of yoghurt that you will be adding.

Home pasteurization
Slowly bring the temp up to 80-90C. I set the stove for a click above medium and frequently leave and forget that I was doing something in the kitchen. At least if you use a double boiler, you won't have milk boiling over and making a big ol' mess. Or you could just pay attention to what you're doing. I've heard that works too.

Bring milk temp to 90 C
Nice pic,huh. It says 90C.
Now we need to cool the milk down to 55C so that we don't kill our bugs. I fill a sink full of cold water that I can rest the pot in. It only takes about 3 minutes or so to cool, so I manage to actually stay in the same room while this is happening. Short attention span and all.

Cool milk to 55C
55 C

While I am cooling the milk, I am also sterilizing the jars that I will be storing the yoghurt in. They happen to fit into the larger pot that I use as a double boiler. Cool, huh?

Sterilize the containers while the milk is cooling
Add yoghurt starter after milk has cooled to 50-55C
Time for your inoculation
When the milk is at 50-55C, stir in the store yoghurt as a starter.

Pour into storage container
Try not to spill
ferment at 50c for.....2-8 hours
A nice warm bath
Let your bugs propagate at 40-50C for as long as you like. The yoghurt usually gels after 1 hour or so, but I let it develop for 6-8 hours. Longer=stronger. Even after 8 hours, it still isn't even close to "Nancy's" sour, though. That stuff makes my teeth hurt.

Yeah, I know
I remove the towel and turn on the stove for 1 minute, turn off and cover. Check every so often and try to keep it around 50C but it's not rocket science. Horse-shoes and hand-grenades is more like it.

2 quarts of yoghurt for $1.70
When it's done, put it in the fridge. If this is your first venture, it IS different than the store bought stuff. Thinner than some, thicker than others. The cool thing is, you made it.

You can change it. Like that super expensive Greek yoghurt? Cover the top with mesh, invert for a few hours to drain some of the excess liquid off and.........there you go. Let it drain in the fridge for a few days and you get a soft, fermented cheese that you can spread on bagels. Later, you can dig a cave in the back yard so that you can age your cheese and develop your own strain of bacteria to inoculate the milk from the goats that you raise.

When you've got time.


All too often it seems, the store is out of whatever it is that I am looking for. I will add my results as they come in.....

Western Family ( kind of a generic brand), PLAIN--- occasionally produced a slightly grainy yoghurt, but just fine nonetheless. Hard to find because people want yoghurt that tastes like candy, so pretty much ANY unflavored yogurt is a rarity. I do about a 6 hour brew. 7/10

Yoplait PLAIN NONFAT--- I only found this one time and that was enough. Grainy, watery, thin taste even after a 6 hour brew. 5/10

Stoneyfield Farms PLAIN, NONFAT, GREEK STYLE---8 hour brew and still tastes like..... custard. No tang. Thick, smooth, lots of fluid. I only got nonfat because that was all that the store had, and bummed because I made 3 quarts (Blechh!). 5/10.....!! Stop the presses!!.... after a few days in the fridge, the flavor got richer, more complex, but still super smooth. 7-8/10.

Voskos PLAIN, GREEK STYLE---8 hour brew. Just slightly grainy (Milk freshness and cooking temp have a BIG effect on final texture, soooo....), and a bit too sour for me, reminded me of Nancy's. 6 hours might be better. 8/10

My local Fred Meyers has been out of Brown Cow PLAIN for 2 weeks!!! I miss my BC! Creamy, tart after 8 hours, but not too.... 10/10 ( unless I screw it up by forgetting to turn off the stove, killing the bugs and turning the yogurt into custard..... I seem to have a serious learning disability, :-0

-----!!!! Disaster strikes!!!!!-----
It's official, my local Fred Meyers has stopped carrying the small containers of Brown Cow! So. I bought a large, 1qt size and made a whole gallon of yogurt. Or something that looked a bit like yoghurt! TASTE YOUR STARTER YOGHURT!!!! I'm not sure if something was wrong with this stuff or what, but when I added the starter to the scalded milk, it immediately started to curdle! Hmmm.....I let it brew for 4 hours, and it never really turned into yoghurt, although it did settle out and become semi solid. Taste? 2 days in the fridge gave it the delicate, yet not too subtle, taste of old vomit. CHECK YOUR STARTER!  Epic fail......*sad* =-(

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Like all of us, I am figuring this out as I go, so when you see something that is incorrect or flat out wrong (and you will!), let me know. This is a learning process. Real people and names, please. Constructive comments and questions are very welcome, but hate speak/politics are not! Life (get one!) is too short.

Thanks, Jason