Wednesday, June 03, 2009

yogurt smackdown

I have been wanting to make my own yogurt for years now. We always did when I was growing up, and the taste of home-made yogurt trumps even the best organic brands out there (sorry, Strauss Farms!).
Most people would just get a yogurt maker (like this one) and call it a day. But oh, not us overthinkers! First, I was grumpy that I would have to pay some exorbitant sum of money for shipping ("exorbitant" being anything more than "free" - I really hate to pay for shipping. HATE it!*). Second, and more importantly, I realized that I simply had no room for yet another "small" appliance in my kitchen (and I did not want home-made yogurt badly enough to put the yogurt-maker into the bedroom). Thus began the quest for an alternative solution for my DIY dairy needs.

First, I tried making yogurt in my crock pot. It has worked for others**, but in my case, it produced half a gallon of slightly smelly burned milk. FAIL!
I'm guessing that either, the milk was still too hot when I put in my yogurt starter, or the crock pot was too hot even on "low."
Then, my mom told me about a Tupperware method using a contraption that is designed to strain noodles and then keep them warm (and which I can't find on their website - I imported mine from Germany). At the same time, a friend told me about the Alton Brown method (and I love me some Alton, even though I've never seen his show because I don't have cable and also live under a rock).
Thusly, I set out to try again.

On the left, you see the Tupperware contraption. I poured my heated-then-chilled milk-and-yogurt-starter into a (sorry, fake-Tupperware from IKEA) bowl, set that bowl inside the Tupperware contraption filled with boiling water, and covered it.
On the right, we have a big glass bowl with the milky yogurt mixture on top of my heating pad nestled inside an even bigger glass bowl. I set the heating pad on "low" and loosely covered the smaller bowl with its lid.

13 hours later, I had this:


I did not put the yogurts into the refrigerator right away. Chilling stops the fermenting process and I wanted to firm them up a little more. It turns out that the Tupperware yogurt didn't firm up much more (perhaps adding some more boiling water would have done the trick), and the heating pad yogurt firmed up beautifully but got a touch too sour for me.
Overall, I think that the Tupperware method would work better with smaller, individual containers. The instructions came directly from Tupperware, and actually said to use individual containers. I didn't have any that were readily available, and lo, I was too lazy to find any.The heating pad yogurt is delightful. I am going to start chilling it sooner next time, but I imagine it'll turn out firm and slightly sour - just the way I like it. Alton Brown FTW!
The yellow layer on top you see in the pictures is there because I used cream-top milk. Why I did that I really don't know (I think it just sounded exclusive and sumptuous). I'm not doing that again... it was hard to get out of the bottle, difficult to stir in, and the yellow layer is a little, well, icky.

*Quite possibly, this is the thing that is saving us from bankruptcy right now, because online shopping would be my favorite hobby if it wasn't for shipping.
**I couldn't find a record on the blog, but she did twitter it!


Yara said...

you could GO to williams-sonoma & buy it in person; it's just down the street! maybe I will save up $50 & you can teach me how to make yogurt

Elaine said...

OK, so I just stick them in jars and leave them in the oven overnight, with no more heat than is provided by the light bulb. Works beautifully!

Haven't done so in a while... should really make a new batch.

bethany actually said...

Ha! I laughed at Yara's "You could just GO to Williams-Sonoma..." because to me that sounds like too much work, but the idea of making my own yogurt sounds delightfully intriguing and fun! I am weird. If I try this I'll let you know how it goes!

Jamie said...

I'm pretty impressed that you gave yogurt-making a try again after the first fail. Good job! Now the most important does it taste?

tshsmom said...

I make yogurt in my dehydrator. Then I mix half the batch with pureed fruit, spread it on the fruit roll-up sheets and dehydrate it into yogurt fruit roll-ups.

N said...

My MIL (in Brazil) just leaves the mixture of milk & yogurt on the counter for a couple of hours... They actually live in a country where the temperature is constant and warm enough to NOT need an extravagant set up to make yogurt... I'm so jealous.