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sour cherry yogurt

In breakfast on October 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm

once i had tackled cheese, i decided to mosey on through the dairy department to yogurt. the recipes i had read sounded easy enough, since (like cheese) most of the time you’re waiting for it to do it’s own thing. the tricky part was the temperature, because of course i don’t have a kitchen thermometer. (i don’t have a medical thermometer, either. i checked. not that it would have helped me, but just fyi.)

fortunately, my recipe offered handy tips.

1. begin by heating half a gallon of whole milk to 180-190 degrees (apparently this means “steaming and beginning to form bubbles”)

yogurtmilk

2. take it off the heat and let it cool to 115-120 degrees (“somewhere between very warm and hot” – you can imagine how many times he and i both stuck our fingers in it to test…)

3. for each quart of milk (in this case 2), stir in 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt thinned with a little of the warm milk. (this is known as tempering, and is also where i went wrong the first time.)

yogurtstarter

i just so happened to be on the phone at this stage of the process and skipped step 2. that is, i spooned some of the super hot (i can only assume 185-degree) milk into the cold yogurt. and what did that do? it killed the beasties.

the beasties, of course, are the probiotics – good bacteria that make yogurt yogurt and keep jamie lee curtis and activia in business. by adding them to the milk at the right temperature, they grow and mass reproduce. by adding them to the milk at the wrong temperature…

let’s just say 8 hours later i had to buy a new half gallon of milk.

4. keep your milk/beastie mixture warm for at least 6, but no more than 12, hours while the little buddies do their thing. to do so, i wrapped the pot and its lid in cloth towels and stored it in a warmed (but turned-off) oven with the oven light on (it adds heat… i’m not crazy). i waited 7.5 hours.

yogurtwarm

it was at this point that i confirmed what i already knew to be true the first go around, when the “yogurt” came out at the same consistency that it went in. the beasties had been boiled. to death.

5. repeat steps 1 through 4 (optional)

6. strain your now-yogurt through cheesecloth (yogurtcloth?)

yogurtdrainsetup

yogurtdraining

and mix in flavors. i used chopped, jarred sour cherries. mmmm

yogurtcherries

yogurtdone

at this point, my yogurt was still runnier than commercial yogurt, but tasted just right (like plain yogurt, but with a little sweetness from the cherries). after a night in the fridge it firmed up a little, but was still runny. i’m not sure if this is because i didn’t let it sit long enough in the oven, because i used greek yogurt instead of regular, or if that’s just the nature of homemade yogurt… but i definitely think this is a recipe i’m going to try again. not only is it cheaper to make your own yogurt, you know you’re avoiding fake sweeteners and preservatives, too.

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