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Yogurt

Yogurt is such a handy foodstuff to have in your fridge. It can be eaten plain, with fruit, in smoothies, as well as used for cooking, baking, dips and sauces. In our home, we make two types of yogurt; a plain well-set yogurt and a 'Greek style' yogurt that is thick like sour cream.

Yogurt can be made with whole milk or skimmed milk. If you are using fresh raw milk, you can skim the cream to keep and make butter with, and use the skimmed milk for the yogurt. 

You can follow this recipe to make both large and small amounts of yogurt. I tend to make a large amount so I don't have to make it as often because yogurt keeps so well. After all, yogurt originates from countries that are very hot, and was used back before there was electrical refrigeration. Yogurt was a great way to preserve fresh milk and keep it safe to consume.

PLAIN YOGURT:
Take your milk (I often make up to 15L at a time) and heat it up in a double boiler until it reaches 110F - 115F. The higher the temperature, the more sour or tangy the yogurt will be.

Store bought milk should always be scalded before using it to make yogurt.

Add your yogurt bacteria. I use a freeze-dried yogurt bacteria culture from France that only requires a few grains of culture, but you can add a 1/2 cup of natural yogurt (as in no sugar or other stuff added) as your inoculant for up to 15L. Use 1/4 cup for 7.5L or less, 1/8 cup if you are only making 1 − 2L.

Stir well, (being gentle with the milk) for a few moments.

Pour into mason type jars and close the lid tight.

Take your jars (be there 1 or 15) and place in a warm spot. There are lots of ideas for where to let the yogurt sit and stay warm at the end of the recipe.

Let the jars sit in that warm spot for 8-12 hours. Depending on the bacteria I'm using, I often let mine sit for 24 hours. 

After the bacteria has done it's work, you should have nicely set yogurt already in jars you can store in your fridge.

If you don't have well set yogurt, read through the trouble shooting guide at the end of the recipe. 

GREEK YOGURT: If you want extra creamy, thick yogurt it's quite simple.

After I add the bacteria to the pot of milk, I place the whole pot in a warm place to incubate for 20-24 hours. 

Then, I use jelly bag (similar to cheese cloth, but very fine) to strain the yogurt. Let the whey drip out until you get the consistency you like.

Take the strained yogurt and place in a bowl and mix well with a whisk, or use your hand mixer until the yogurt is smooth and lump free. 

Transfer into jars and refrigerate.

KEEPING IT WARM:
There are lots of places in your home to let your yogurt set. Here are a few ideas for you:

-You can put the jars in the over and set it to 110F.

-You can pack the jars into a box or container and cover with blankets. If you choose this method, make sure you don't leave the box anywhere it will be exposed to cold drafts.

-You can place the jars into a waterproof cooler and fill with hot water until the jars are covered. Then cover the cooler with blankets. 

-The ambient temperature of your home will determine what measures you need to take to keep the yogurt at the right temperature. You may find this will change depending on the season. For example, our house tends to be very warm in the hot summer, and mid-winter when the woodstove is on all the time. The house tends to be much cooler in the shoulder seasons when we don't have the stove lit.

TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR YOGURT:
Sometimes it takes a bit of practice to get your yogurt the way you like it.

-If your yogurt is too sour, inoculate and incubate at a lower temperature. If you like it sour, inoculate and incubate at a higher temperature.

-If your yogurt is runny or not as set as you would like, you can try scalding the milk first. This can help with two potential problems. Scalding milk denatures some of the proteins in the milk, which allows it to thicken better. This is why many recipes for custards and puddings ask that you scald the milk first. Scalding can also help eliminate other bacterias that might be present in the milk which prevent the yogurt bacterias from thriving. 

-If your yogurt seems to separate and look clumpy and watery, you may have added too much bacteria, or the yogurt may have been in a spot that experienced too much disturbance. Yogurt doesn't like to be jiggled, so leaving it to set next to your kids mini indoor trampoline, or near a door that frequently gets slammed shut wouldn't be a good idea.

-What can you do with runny or lump yogurt? If you strain it, it will remove some of the whey, resulting in a thicker yogurt.

-Foamy, bubbly, and/or yeasty smelling yogurt indicates yeast over took the yogurt bacteria. This can be from equipment that wasn't clean enough, a lapse in hygiene, or can occur when you are making yeast type breads in your kitchen the same time as yogurt. 

-Grainy yogurt can be from too much bacteria, but more likely heating the milk too quickly. 

 

 

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