Saturday, January 09, 2010


I've been looking for something really deep to post about and even had a huge monologue going on last night as I was trying to fall asleep. Unfortunately, it was all about work stuff which I really can't post about. Sorry! Let's just leave the work stuff with this: there was a public hearing regarding the fate of my school last week. It goes up for a vote on the 26th.

On the home front, I'm still plugging away on Little Squid's sweater -- front, back and right arm are done. Left arm is about halfway up his forearm. My rigid heddle loom is now clear of weaving and the final product will be run through the wash tomorrow. And I've started spinning the alpaca-merino blend that I bought at Rhinebeck.

I've also made some yogurt.

You may remember this post where Little Squid and I experimented with frozen yogurt using our homemade product. We never did master it but hey, that's what next summer is for. Right?

Meanwhile I have continued to make yogurt every week or two using the same method. Recently I've seen some posts on other blogs raving about a Crock-pot method of making yogurt.

I studied it, thought hard about it, and decided that I will stick with my method. It is fairly simple and only requires about 2 hours of my time depending on the temperature of my kitchen. In cooler weather the cooling processes occurs much more quickly then it does in the heat of summer.So, for those who are interested, this is my adaptation of Harold McGee's yogurt making technique as originally published in the New York Time on April 15, 2009.


First, heat the milk to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. I do this by heating about 12 ounces milk at a time on high in the microwave for 1 minute (in a 4 cup measuring cup) and then dumping it into a pot on the stove with the flame at a medium setting. (I make a gallon of yogurt at a time. You can easily make less.)

While it is heating, I monitor the temperature and twiddle my thumbs. This is actually why I microwave the milk. The one minute intervals keep me interested enough that I do not walk away and then forget that I have milk heating.

Once the milk reaches 180 degrees it is time to cool it. I do this in two or three or, when making 2 gallons at a time as I do during the summer, 4 bowls.

During the warmer weather I surround the bowls with reusable cold packs to help it cool faster. I also stir it frequently to increase the amount of milk that comes in contact with the cooler parts of the bowl (and the air).

When the temperature of the milk reaches 120 degrees, I take yogurt that I've set aside from the last batch (2 tablespoons of yogurt for every quart of milk used) and mix it with some of the warm milk to thin out the yogurt.

This yogurt-milk slurry then gets mixed into the warm milk and the mixture gets put into a large container. I use a gallon Tupperware pitcher that we've had forever.

The pitcher gets a lid (I have no idea where the official lid is these days) and then gets wrapped in towels.

Usually I use three towels but this time I used four -- one underneath the pitcher to insulate it from the cold counter. Our kitchen was really cold.

Then the wrapped pitcher of pre-yogurt sits on the counter for about 6 hours, more or less. More if you like it tarter, less if you like it more naturally sweet.

The neo-yogurt then chills overnight in the fridge and is ready for eating in the morning.

I, personally, take it one step further and strain the yogurt in a HUGE fine meshed strainer that we got at a restaurant supply store. Mike cut the handle off of it so that the strainer, sitting on top of a storage container, fits in the fridge. Half a gallon of yogurt fits in the strainer at a time.

One hour usually makes it thick enough for my taste but you can strain longer if you want. Half of the last batch strained overnight by accident. It is incredibly thick and smooth and luscious!

And there you go. A gallon of milk costs between $2.39 (Costco) and $3.50 (Whole Foods 365 brand). A quart of my previous favorite yogurt, Greek Goddess, costs $5.99 at Fairway -- more elsewhere. A gallon of milk makes 2.5 to 4 quarts of yogurt depending on how much you strain it. Monetarily it makes sense but that's not why I do it.

I do it because it is too easy and too good not to.The only down-side is the cleaning of the pan. The stuck on milk can be tough to clean with a regular sponge or dishrag so I use this curly thing. It gets it right off and then I toss the curly thing into the dishwasher to get all the milk-curd crud out. Hey, it works.

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