Yoghurt (Daring Cooks Challenge July 2013)

yoghurt plain1

The lovely Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler was our July Daring Cooks’ hostess and she asked us to create homemade yogurt in our own kitchens! No incubators needed, no expensive equipment or ingredients, just a few items and we had delicious yogurt for a fraction of the cost and a whole lot healthier than what you buy in the stores!

yoghurt mango lassi2

This challenge looked simple enough, but I have to admit I didn’t manage to make successful yoghurt. I carefully had my almond milk & skimmed milk powder in a bowl over simmering water for about 20mins. My thermometer struggled to reach over 40 degrees. Fed up of waiting, I decided to zap this in the microwave. After 3 attempts, the temp reached 70 degrees, which I thought was good enough, as I was beginning to doubt the accuracy of my candy thermometer.

yoghurt making2

yoghurt making1

Stirred in the yoghurt starter and transferred the milky mix into glass jars. Unfortunately I didn’t have anywhere warm to keep these during the incubation stage – being in the middle of a heat wave, I didn’t want to have the oven or heating on for 5 hrs, so the window sill had to do.

yoghurt making3

Returning later on that evening after my antenatal class, I was disappointed that my yoghurt was still watery. Determined not to make sour yoghurt, I popped this in the fridge. I had discovered I had made a yoghurt drink, not yoghurt! It did taste a bit like Yakault, and I was hoping it was filled with friendly bacteria, although pretty certain it did contain bacteria of some sort (I have to admit I wasn’t so scrupulous with my cleaning). Never the less, I made mango lassi which tasted great with a spicy curry.

yoghurt mango lassi1

Traditional Milk Yogurt
Servings: 4-6 servings
Adapted from “Cuisine at Home” June 2011

Preparation time:

Preparing/ heating the milk: About 30 minutes
Cooling the milk: About 5-10 minutes
Incubation: 5-12+ hours
Refrigeration: 8 hours or overnight

Equipment required:
• A double boiler or a bowl that can be nested in a pot without touching the bottom or a microwavable glass bowl*
• A whisk, for stirring together ingredients*
• Food thermometer
• A large bowl (or other container) for an ice bath (2-4 cups of ice and 1-2 cups of water – depending on the size of your bowl. You want to be able to cool the bottom and sides of the bowl you cooked your milk in)
• A heat source for incubating yogurt
• Glass jars (five to six ½-pint (400 ml) jars) or a glass bowl for culturing yogurt*
• Pot holders

*All equipment that will come in direct contact with the yogurt should be thoroughly washed before using, to mitigate the potential of any non-beneficial bacteria entering the equation. I run my equipment through the dishwasher and use the heated dry cycle. Some sources recommend sterilizing in boiling water.

Ingredients
One quart (4 cups) (1 litre)whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml) (18 gm) (2/3 oz) non-fat dry (powdered) milk (optional, but recommended) (may substitute other thickening agent as noted above)
Sweetener (optional – 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of agave nectar, honey or sugar)
¼ cup (60 ml)(60 gm) (2 oz) plain yogurt or 1 packet of yogurt starter or other starter

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a double boiler* (or in a microwave-safe bowl), stir together the milk, powdered milk and sweetener (if using).

2. Place the bowl over the simmering water (medium heat) and heat until the mixture reaches 185°F/85°C. Be sure to stir frequently during this time. You can also opt to microwave the mixture until it reaches the desired temperature, but I have found that the double boiler method seems to produce the best results for me when making a milk-based yogurt.

3. While your milk is heating, prepare an ice bath. (I place ~4 cups of ice and 2-4 cups of water in a large bowl – the goal is to cool down the heated mixture as quickly as possible).
4. Once the mixture reaches 185°F/85°C, remove the bowl from heat and place in the ice bath. Stir constantly until the temperature of the liquid drops to ~115°F/46°C.

5. When the liquid cools to 110°F/43°C, stir in the starter. (If you are using a freeze-dried culture or pro-biotic capsules, make sure the liquid has cooled to the temperature recommended for that particular culture).

6. Ladle the yogurt mixture into ½ pint (235 ml) glass jars (should be ~5-6 jars depending on how full you fill them), secure the cover and place into your incubator. (If you are using a large glass bowl or some other vessel, cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap and proceed as below).

7. Incubate the yogurt for about 5-10 hours. Longer incubating times will result in a tangier yogurt. The optimal incubating temperature is ~122°F/50°C for yogurt starters (if you are using a freeze-dried starter or pro-biotic capsules, follow the recommended temperatures for those starters). Ideally, you want to keep the temperature as close to that as possible for the incubating period. Realizing that may not be possible – I try to target keeping the mixture between 115°F and 125°F (46°C to 51°C).

8. Once the yogurt is done incubating, carefully transfer the containers to the refrigerator and chill for at least 8 hours. This step helps to thicken the yogurt and lulls those ravenous friendly bacteria back to their sluggish state.
9. After the cooling period, the yogurt is ready to be enjoyed.

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