Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I tend to think of making dairy products as something of an advanced sustainability skill. I have made cheese, and it requires a fair amount of thought (and a good source of milk that has not been overly pasteurized, which is harder to obtain than you might think). I have made sour cream, and it is fairly easy, but I have typically wound up with enough sour cream to stock a small Mexican restaurant.
However, I just made yogurt, and this project officially joins the DIY laundry detergent and making your own pesto as a superstar in both the budget and the end product.
It couldn't be easier. Take your milk (I used a half gallon, but the recipe is totally scalable to the amount you need; there is no reason why you couldn't make anything from a pint to a gallon) and scald it, which means bringing it to a temperature of 180 to 190. I have a dairy thermometer to measure this, but you could use a candy thermometer in a pinch.
Then, let the milk cool to between 110 and 120 degrees. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of yogurt; I bought a container of organic vanilla yogurt to get my batch started, but future batches will be made from the last couple of spoons of the existing batch. Put it in a covered container (I used a half gallon Mason jar), wrap with a towel, and let sit where it will drop no lower than 95 degrees. This may take some doing in the winter, but right now I just tote it outside and sit it on a high plant shelf on the patio.
Don't disturb it; you are waiting for the good bacteria to grow to the point that they culture the entire batch, at which point it will be thick. This takes about 4-5 hours. Refrigerate.
DH notes that he likes this yogurt better than store-bought varieties. I'm not much of a yogurt-eater, but I like this a lot. It is milder than the store varieties. And it is a yummy vehicle for some blackberry preserves.
(Note: If you are packing a lunch, you could take a half pint Mason jar, add yogurt and preserves, and have your own little fruit and yogurt snack with very much the look and feel of a conventional yogurt container.)
Fast: I'd say this batch took about 20 minutes of active scalding and cooling, plus the 4-5 hours of letting it sit. And it is so easy to make, even a covert operative based in Afghanistan can probably still get his yogurt fix. (Apologies if you aren't a Burn Notice fan and this makes no sense.)
Cheap: I bought a half gallon of milk for $1.77; this is the only input you have to purchase if you use yogurt from the previous batch to start the new one. This means $1.77 for 64 ounces. By contrast, the cheapest store brand yogurt I saw on sale was $0.40 cents for one of those 6 ounce containers, which means you would pay $4.27 for just under 11 little containers of store yogurt. That is a savings of $2.50 per batch!
Good: Light, mild, and creamy, this may be my new favorite homemade food.
Posted by Jennifer Lorenzetti at 10:03 AM