I hadn’t intended to make this again so soon, but my daughter and I were able to make a quick trip into town and she made a passing comment about how we should make yogurt again. I’ve been thinking of it since I posted about using the liquid from making yogurt cheese in bread baking, so that was all it took to convince me to get what we needed to make some now.
Making yogurt is really pretty easy. The main thing is to have a warm place for the bacteria to do its thing for the hours it needs. I’ve found leaving it in a warm oven with the light left on overnight to be adequate, but there are other methods.
Since that is my preferred method, it’s a two day process. I use a full gallon of milk, and plan to use half of it to make yogurt cheese tomorrow.
Along with the ingredients, a candy thermometer is needed, and containers you can sterilize to store the yogurt in, later. Any container that can handle being scalded, with an air tight lid, of the appropriate size for your amounts will do.
The recipe I use is from Whole Foods for the Whole Family, from La Leche League International. I have a 1991 printing of it. It’s a very handy cookbook, if you like to make things from scratch. I modified the recipe for larger quantities, so I’ll include both the original quantities, and my own variation (in brackets).
This recipe uses plain commercial yogurt as a starter. Make sure you check the label to see that it says something like “active bacterial culture” or “live bacteria” on it.
Do not use the optional gelatin if you’re planning to make yogurt cheese. The gelatin serves only to make a firmer yogurt.
4 cups milk (4 litres/1 gallon)
1 cup powdered milk (4 cups)
2-4 Tbsp plain yogurt (1/2 – 1 cup)
2 tsp (8 tsp) unflavored gelatin, softened in 1/4 cup (1 cup) cold water – optional
- Scald milk.
- Cool to 95 – 155 degrees. (The recipe does not specify, but looking at my candy thermometer, it must refer to Celsius, not Fahrenheit) Check with candy thermometer to be sure.
- Stir in powdered milk and yogurt. Add optional softened gelatin.
- Pour into sterilized jars, a baking dish with a cover, or a thermos rinsed with very hot water. (Because I use an entire gallon of milk, I leave it in the same container I heated it in and cover it with a lid.)
- Place into or on a yogurt maker or use other heat source. A thermos just needs to be wrapped in a towel.
- Put in a warm place and allow to incubate at 95-155 degrees until yogurt sets. It can take from 3-9 hours, depending on your heat source. Check after 3 hours to see if it is set by tilting the container or tapping it with the heel of your hand. When set, refrigerate immediately.
Maintaining the temperature is vital; too cold, and the milk can go sour. Too hot, and it will kill the bacteria. The recipe lists several options for maintaining the right temperature, but a few of them a fire hazards, so I won’t bother including them. 😀
Yogurt cheese isn’t really cheese at all, but is has a texture similar to cream cheese and makes a wonderful spread. To make it, you’ll need cheese cloth, and somewhere to hang it.
Which I don’t have. So I have to figure something out for tomorrow.
Anyhow… to make yogurt “cream cheese”…
- Line a colander with 2-4 layers of cheesecloth. Place the colander over a bowl, then dump home made yogurt onto the cheesecloth. Pull up the corners of the cheese cloth and tie them together so it can be hung. Suspend the resulting bag of yogurt over the bowl and leave overnight. (Or just a few hours, depending on how thick you want it)
- Reserve liquid in bowl for bread baking.
- Remove yogurt cheese from bag and refrigerate.
Fair warning: getting the yogurt cheese off the cheese cloth can be a messy job! Also, the outside will often be drier than the middle, so you’ll probably want to mix it together. If you wish, you can mix in some dried herbs or garlic or otherwise experiment with it.