I consider myself an optimist...that is, until I'm confronted with cooking a new recipe. It always makes me nervous: 1) because I think I'm a "good cook" and I struggle with this unhealthy illusion that one unsatisfying dish would automatically make me a "bad cook," 2) because I really want to eat whatever I'm about to make!
I've been toying around with the idea of making my own yogurt for quite a while now. There are several yogurt-making techniques out there and I was beginning to feel weighed down by all the choices; until I found a youtube video by Simply Living Smart. I knew immediately it was the one to go with. Why, you ask? Because it did not call for using a slow cooker or any other "fancy" equipment. Simple. Just like the name says; so I broke down and bought the ingredients.
Here's what you need to start up:
7 cups milk (1 or 2%)
½ c instant nonfat powdered milk
½ c yogurt (make sure it's a "real" yogurt with cultures)
4 mason jars
Small Styrofoam beer cooler
For all you visual learners:
1. Mix wet and dry milks together in a saucepan (if you want to make vanilla yogurt, you can add 1/3 c sugar and a tbsp vanilla at this step)
2. Scald milk over medium heat (5-10 minutes). The milk has scalded when bubbles form around the edge of the milk and it begins to rise in the pan (or 180* if you're fancy and have a kitchen thermometer)
3. Transfer milk into a big mixing bowl (don't use plastic...mine started to melt!!)
4. Let cool on the counter for about 40 minutes. When it "feels warm like a baby’s bottle" (or 100*), it's cool enough
5. Mix in the yogurt (make sure to take it out of the refrigerator for 20 minutes before you're ready to use it “so it won’t shock the milk”
6. Pour mixture into 4 mason jars & put lids on tightly
7. Line beer cooler with fleece blanket
8. Place mason jars in the cooler, 2 on bottom, 2 on top.
9. Wrap the blanket around the jars and close the lid of the cooler
10. Let sit undisturbed for about 11 hours
So did it work??
You bet it did!!! I still can't believe it! Look how much it firmed up (that's what she said). Creamy and delicious.
...and after an uncontrolled taste "test"...
I'm used to whole greek-style yogurt, so I prefer a yogurt that is thicker and more sour than what I ended up with. If you do like low fat yogurt, I would suggest going with this recipe. Next go-round I'm going to use whole milk instead of 2% and try heating the cooler (possibly with an electric heating pad?) to see what a difference it makes.
Overall, I think this was a pretty successful first try. It felt kind of like baking bread...working for 20 minutes, sitting back to let chemistry do its work, then *POOF*, a few hour later you've got lunch.
Looking at all of this yogurt sitting in my refrigerator has inspired me to make a cool summer yogurt soup...keep a look out for the recipe; its an essential for the hot summer days to come (soon, I hope)!