When I started making yogurt at home, it was because I wasn’t happy with all the additives in most of the store brands I could find locally.
I was concerned that they might be affecting not only my digestive tract but more importantly that of my elderly mother.
Initially I used a yogurt maker. After going through two yogurt makers in about three years, I became disillusioned with them.
Personally I found pouring the milk into small containers time consuming. Mostly in the amount of milk I had to clean up afterward!
Now if you’ve had a great experience with yogurt makers, that’s super. I wanted to use glass containers, and with my experience didn’t want to spend more money on a third yogurt maker.
About this time I discovered Alton Brown’s “Yogurt: Good Milk Gone Bad” episode of Good Eats.
He’s definitely my kind of chef.
- Finds alternatives to machines that have only one use in the kitchen . . .
- Includes the science of cooking into the episodes, and . . .
- Shows the basics of a recipe which can easily be customized to your own taste.
So what did Alton do that was so different?
Well, basically after adding the starter he incubated it in a heating pad inside an ice bucket.
How cool is that!
Of course, I didn’t have an ice bucket. And really didn’t want to go out and buy one. So I improvised with an insulated cooler.
I like to leave it partially open to ventilate.
Wondering what kind of incubator to use?
The National Center for Food preservation has some suggestions here.
While I’ve heated the milk to only 120 degrees F as Alton’s recipe indicates, I personally prefer to heat it to 180 and then let it cool to 115 before adding the starter.
Because heating the milk to 180 yields a thicker yogurt without adding dry milk.
I’m avoiding dry milk since I haven’t found any locally that is make from hormone free milk.
My current recipe:
Plain (Unsweetened) Yogurt
1 quart pasteurized milk, preferably hormone-free
1/2 cup plain yogurt (from last batch or store-bought) at room temperature
Heat milk slowly to 180 degrees F on the stove, using instant thermometer to check temperature. A ceramic or ceramic-lined saucepan works well and seems to minimize scorching.
Take milk off heat and allow to cool to 110 to 115 degrees.
Add starter and blend well. Carefully pour milk and starter into canning jar with lid.
Place into your incubator, and incubate for 3 to 12 hours. Check frequently to be sure temperature is 110 – 115 of the yogurt.
No matter what incubator you use, I recommend doing this when you are awake and in the kitchen to watch it.
And yes, this recipe is unsweetened. Your sweetener of choice can be added later if you want.
Alton Brown’s original recipe is in his book Good Eats: The Early Years.
Making yogurt is fun, easy and healthy.
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Caregiving With Purpose
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