Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tips on making yogurt:

A strawberry yogurt drink
Photo by Dirk Schneider

The Mongol warriors brought yogurt to the west when they conquered Eastern Europe hundreds of years ago.  They used it as a ration for their army and usually kept it in a waterproof leather bag attached to their saddle.  It was made originally made from mare’s or yak milk and was similar to koumiss a mildly intoxicating beverage the Mongol’s used to get drunk with.

In reality, yogurt is a simple cheese that one should master the making of before they try to make more complicated cheeses.  It will teach you how to use milk in quantities, how to keep your utensils sterile, and what to do with it after it is made.

The first thing you have to do is sterilize the lids and jars you are going to make the yogurt in.  You do this by placing them into a pot large enough to hold them.  Cover them with an inch of water, put a cover on the pot and bring it to a boil for ten minutes.

Use a thick bottomed pot or a double boiler put one gallon of milk and raise the temperature of the milk until it is scalded, but you don’t have to boil the milk as this could cause the milk to stick to the bottom of the pot, or boil over.

Raise the temperature of the milk over a medium fire so it doesn’t get hot enough to stick to the bottom of a thick bottomed pot.  Use a fireproof pad under the pot if necessary if the bottom of the pot isn’t thick enough.  The ideal temperature is between 85 to 90 degrees Celsius or 185 – 195 degrees F.

Put the pot full of hot milk into a pan full of cold water and allow it to cool down to 50 to 55 degrees C or 120 to 130 degrees F.  Then remove it from the pan of cold water and set aside.

Put a cup of milk into a two cup measuring device and add enough uncontaminated yogurt to bring the contents up to the full two cups measure.  The yogurt you use should be unflavored that you can buy at a local supermarket.  Try the different brands until you find one that works best.  Blend the milk and yogurt until they are thoroughly blended.

Now you add the mixture in the two cup container to the rest of the milk that has cooled to 50 degrees C, 122 degrees F while stirring.  Don’t allow the milk to become any warmer then 50 degrees C or you will kill the bacteria in the mixture.

Place the mixture into the sterilized containers by filling to the neck and put the lids on so they are tight.  You will still have to allow the yogurt to incubate for yogurt.  You can do this by placing in a container full of water that has been warmed to 50 degrees C or 122 degrees F any warmer you will kill the bacteria.  Set the cooler aside for around three hours and if you did everything right the yogurt will have turned to a jelly like consistency in its containers.  It’s now ready too eat!

You can use a picnic cooler for incubating your yogurt in because it is insulated, and will hold the temperature of the cooling bath while the yogurt is incubating.  After it is removed from the cooler it has to be kept in the refrigerator until used.

Yogurt can be flavored and sweetened to taste before you add the two cups of starter to the pan of cooling milk.   

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