Taste of Science
There are times when science can taste pretty delicious.
One of my best decisions was the purchase of a “yogurt maker.” The term is a bit of a misnomer, as it only aids in one stage of the process. Having this kitchen device (Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker) makes the process much more consistent, and ultimately encourages one to make homemade yogurt much more often.
Yogurt is a great source of B vitamins, riboflavin, calcium and protein, as well as being a dairy product that can be tolerated by some who may have difficulty digesting lactose. The lactose level is lessened as beneficial bacteria ferments the lactose, altering it into the zippy lactic acid, providing the unique and distinguishing yogurt flavor and texture.
While there are slight variations in preparing the yogurt, the steps are essentially similar. In my case, I heat 38 ounces of milk to 180℉. The milk is kept at this temperature for two minutes before removing from the heat.
While one can use a multitude of milk varieties, I do prefer whole milk from a quality source. Heck, if I’m making my own yogurt, why not use the best. In Hanover, we are close to Apple Valley Creamery, a wonderful local dairy operated by two families.
The milk is cooled to 115℉ before adding the culture. While one could allow this cooling at room temperature, I usually speed up the process by placing the pot of milk in some ice water.
A few ladles of this milk is now added to 6 to 8 ounces of yogurt and whisked to combine until smooth. Another few ladles of milk are added and stirred again before adding this mixture back in to the remaining milk.
While yogurt cultures can be purchased, using 6-8 ounces of yogurt has worked quite well for me, and makes it possible to obtain ingredients much more easily. When possible, I use yogurt from a previous batch of homemade, but purchased whole milk yogurt works wonderfully, such as Stonyfield organic.
This warm milk/yogurt mixture needs to be kept at a proper incubation temperature (98-130℉) for at least several hours. While it is possible to achieve this using techniques that can be found on the internet, this stage is crucial, and this is where the yogurt maker shines. The small appliance maintains the correct temperature for as long as necessary. The warm mixture is placed in glass jars which sit covered in the warm yogurt maker.
Experimentation can be used in regard to length of fermenting; while this can be as short as four hours, increased time provides a firmer texture and an increase in tartness. I prefer a range of 10-14 hours.
This yogurt is wonderful in recipes, great frozen ice cream desserts, or as a simple treat with the traditional honey accompaniment. Early mentions of this yogurt and honey combination as “food of the gods” show that sometimes simplicity's worth continuing. Get a good, local honey and it’s a snack that is difficult to beat. And don't even get me started on the joy of eating coffee frozen yogurt.
Clermont College’s Yogurt Making Illustrated
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