So many of the things I make involve that thermometer clipped to a pot.

So many of the things I make involve that thermometer clipped to a pot.

It’s raining again today here, and so there was no outdoor fun had. Thing 1 and I decided to whip up a batch of fresh yogurt.

I have a pretty rough relationship with dairy. I can only eat so much before my body bloats and my intestines do the hokey-pokey, and yet I can not give it up completely.

One form of dairy that I can eat without risk of punishment seems to be yogurt, and the best yogurt I’ve ever had was freshly made at home. All milk, with no preservatives, sugar, flavors, colors or newfangled miracle whozits added. However, unlike many of the other things I’ve tried (jams, bread, beer, etc), I have screwed up yogurt quite often, producing lumpy, curdy, runny batches that no one else would even taste. Through trial and error I’ve finally figured out how to produce smooth, tasty yogurt reliably.

Making yogurt is easy, really. Take 4 cups of milk (I have found that whole milk produces the best texture) and put it in a pan with a candy thermometer. Turn the heat on high and heat the milk to 180 and remove from heat. DO NOT STIR. I repeat: DO NOT STIR. If you stir that milk while it’s heating or while it’s cooling, you will get curdy yogurt.

Let the milk cool to about 110 degrees, and as it cools sterilize the containers for the yogurt. I put them all in a big bin with water and a few drops of bleach. I hate using bleach, but I find it does the best job for this purpose. When the milk is cool, rinse all the containers and their lids and line them up near the pan.

For yogurt starter I use yogourmet. I have tried using a few tablespoon of store bought plain yogurt, but the texture was never as good as it is with the powdered starter. I put the starter in one of the cups, then add just enough warm milk to cover. I use a swizzle stick to gently stir them together, then add a little more milk and blend. All of this goes back into the pot, and the starter is stirred in gently but thoroughly with the warm milk.

I use a Donvier yogurt incubator with 8 small yogurt cups, but if and when I replace it I’ll be getting something with one large container. I think one large batch would be less hassle than all these smaller cups migrating around the fridge! The instructions that came with the incubator said to incubate for 8 hours or so, but I find the yogurt is usually done in 5. Once it’s set (and before it starts to separate), the cups go into the fridge until it’s time to eat.

I generally don’t eat the yogurt until it’s chilled since hot jiggly sour dairy is not my thing. I like to use it with fresh fruit and granola and no sweetener, but the kids prefer to stir in a tablespoon or so on homemade jam to make it fruit flavored. I have also used it to make yogurt cheese (another reason I yearn for a 1 quart maker rather than all these little cups), which I enjoyed but the kids thought was weird.