I’ve toyed with the idea of making yogurt for years but always chickened out for one reason or another. The idea of making my own yogurt was seductive but seemed too involved and required (so I thought) special appliances that I didn’t want to commit to owning–and taking up space in my already storage challenged kitchen. In addition, people who made their own yogurt seemed to belong to a stereotypical hippie sub-culture I wasn’t sure I wanted to cross over into. It’s a slippery slope from yogurt making to wearing Birkenstocks & Patchouli oil while building a meditation yurt in my backyard. But then I discovered Greek yogurt (Fage is my favorite) and started eating it almost every day. Also my son loved it from the age of 2 and it’s so packed with protein and calcium that I could feel good about feeding it to him-and even my husband likes it so that’s three of us eating it every day if we have it in the house. But it’s just SO EXPENSIVE! Since I moved to SC it’s even harder to find than in CT and even more expensive there in my local grocery store-when they even have it. The best price I can get is at the Costco in Charleston which is over an hour away. I can stock up on a few quarts for $5.97 each but that only lasts us a week.
So I decided it was time for me to get over my issues and try my hand at making yogurt at home. I found a few blogs where people were sharing techniques for making their own and it didn’t seem that hard (AND they seemed like normal people who weren’t likely to have dreadlocks and be growing illegal herbs in their basements – who knew?)! So for my first attempt I went with the easiest method and most popular method I’d seen which was to heat 3 quarts of milk (any fat content, NOT ultra pasteurized) in a crock pot to 195 degrees, cool it an ice bath to 110 degrees, add a cup of purchased plain yogurt for the cultures (after you make your first batch you can use your own as a starter) and then put into the oven overnight with the light on (heat oven on warm for a few minutes first then turn off). The next morning strain off the whey and you have delicious yogurt. Sounds easy! So I did it and it worked!
But here’s what none of the articles I read mentioned – for the love of God don’t touch the yogurt when it’s warm!!! When I first dipped the whey from the top without disturbing the actual yogurt everything was fine, but once I started ladling the yogurt itself into a colander to strain it, it feel apart into goo. What had once been smooth and creamy turned into a grainy cottage cheese like substance when I was done straining it. Still delicious but not the product I was looking for. I wasn’t sure why so when I went and did some research I found that you shouldn’t touch the yogurt until it’s completely chilled because it takes time to “set”. So what I should have done was remove it from the oven in the morning and cool to room temp on the counter and put the entire crock pot into the fridge until the following morning in which case I’m assured I’d have gotten a perfectly creamy and smooth product. It was a relief to confirm that I wasn’t a complete failure at yogurt making, but I definitely have to figure out how to perfect this process…
See Homemade Greek Style Yogurt – Part 2 (I finally get it right and show you how!)0