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making yogurt  RSS feed

 
Gray Simpson
Posts: 67
Location: McDonough, GA
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I'm getting pretty good at making sourdough bread, so I decided to learn something new.

Our family drinks pasteurized (but not ultrapasteurized), homogenized, non-rBST, 1% fat milk. I would prefer it straight from the cow, but for now this is what I'm stuck with.

We also enjoy Greek yogurt from Chobani and Fage, those delicious single-serve cups with fruit on the bottom. (Except for my little brother, who only eats the sugary Go-Gurt and Danimals.) My goal is to make a yogurt that:
1. is healthy (I'm probably lactose intolerant)
2. tastes mild enough to be eaten at breakfast
3. has other uses (tzatziki sauce, substituting whey for water in bread, kim chee, etc.)
3. has a pleasing texture and is thick enough to eat with a spoon
4. is less expensive than store-bought Greek yogurt
5. is easy to make

So far, I've made three batches of yogurt using the following recipe: Pour 4 cups of milk into a one gallon stainless steel pot. Heat to 180 degrees Fahrenheit (I use a candy thermometer) while stirring. Let it cool to 110 degrees, then stir in a few spoonfuls of the store-bought Greek yogurt. Turn the oven on for a few minutes, then turn it off. Pour the warm milk into a glass bowl and set it in the oven overnight.

The first batch had a horrible rough texture and was very runny. I think the problem was that I accidentally let the milk boil. The second batch had a good taste and texture. However, it was still runny. Very tasty with homemade blueberry jam and a dash of cloves! For the third batch, I decided to let the milk stay at 180 to 190 degrees for about half an hour to see if it would make thicker yogurt. It was a little bit thicker, but it also wound up with an off-putting cheesy/buttermilky taste. (I've never made buttermilk pancakes but do you think I could use my failed yogurt by making some?)

This whole business of heating the milk and keeping it warm overnight is a lot of trouble, especially when you wind up with such disappointing results. I might try using a crock pot, but it's still a pain in the neck.

Has anyone had any luck with mesophillic cultures? I don't want the buttery/diacetyl taste of filmjolk. I don't want the snotty texture of viili. (I might learn to like it, but the rest of my family would not!) And I don't think kefir is what I'm looking for either. Matsoni sound promising, and so does the non-snotty viili from www.culturesforhealth.com

I'd appreciate any advice you can give!






 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1091
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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I make it a whole lot simpler. Probably wrong but it has worked for me for years. I make a LOT of yogurt, mostly for our pigs. I use it to inoculate our three 1,025 gallon dairy tanks. I also make some for us. See:

http://www.google.com/search?q=site:sugarmtnfarm.com+yogurt

When making it for human consumption you want to be more careful than I need to do with making it for the pigs. I just use a 30 gallon drum for them. Don't heat the milk and I just leave it out in the sun or near the woodstove to age depending on the season.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Since the milk's already pasteurised, I'd only heat it to blood-temperature, to activate the yoghurt 'bug'.
I think the most important thing is to source a good starter to innoculate the warm milk with.
I understand that many manufacturers heat and kill the bug after it's 'done its thing', so it won't work as a starter.
When I need a new starter, I use yoghurt from the local Indian shop. The ingredients list is 'milk, starter'
I do all this in our equivalent of a Mason jar:
Whisk a small dessertspoon of yoghurt (more starter is not better...), into about 800mls of lukewarm milk. I suppose that's .8-ish of a quart?
I fill my 'easy-yo' thingy with quite warm (but not hot) water, insert the lidded jar and leave overnight.
The 'easy-yo' thingy is basically a thermos that a powdered-yoghurt company manufacture to make their product in.
You'll have a local version; there's loads in second-hand shops round here.
I freeze some starter in an icecube tray, that way I can just drop one into the warm milk. I find my yoghurt gets 'weaker' if I keep using starter from new batches.
I use raw milk though, and it can be a bit temperamental.
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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I am going to tell you how to cheat on yogurt. I make yogurt from goat milk, which is harder to get it solid, not runny.

One drop of rennet mixed in a bit of water. It will make the yogurt set up, but not too hard.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I find that using dried fruit makes my yogurt less runny. Some of the purchased dried fruits are already sweetened but if I dehydrate my own blueberries or strawberries it reduces the sweetness, they seem to plump up take away some of the excess fluid and firm it up to greek yogurt consistency.
 
Lynn Woodard
Posts: 4
Location: Northern Shenandoah Valley in Virginia
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Gray, I make yoghurt every week (or more often) and use dehydrated cultures because it's more reliable and less expensive. I've never made yoghurt with mesophilic culture, I stick with the thermophilic cultures. Using your procedures where milk is heated to 180-degrees F, you should use the thermophilic cultures. The mesophilic cultures should not use milk that goes over 100 degrees or so.

There are a couple of thermophilic strains that are available and each gives a different result, so it's best to try them and see which one (or combo) suits your taste. Many yoghurts use Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii spp. bulgaricus and they'll work in concert to bring acid into the milk, allowing it to coagulate.

I have made yoghurt using my own previously homemade yoghurt, as you are doing, but it typically produces a more 'liquid' yoghurt. You can reculture your own yoghurt for 4-5 times before needing to make a new batch, just to keep the bacteria alive.

To thicken yoghurt, some people will bring the milk to a boil beforehand. Of course, it is cooled before it is innoculated. Some people also add some nonfat dry milk to thicken the finished yoghurt -- to me, the addition of a commercial product to homemade yoghurt from my own organic goat milk makes no sense.

I've never incubated yoghurt overnight, as in 8-12 hours, because I'm not interested in exceptionally 'tart' yoghurt. My yoghurt is incubated in 4-6 hours and last Spring I invested in a Yogotherm -- it's so much easier using it on the kitchen counter instead of juggling thermos jugs or coolers.

You might want to check out this supplier for some quality cultures: http://www.dairyconnection.com/commerce/catalog.jsp?catId=11 (I order a variety of cultures from them all the time.)

Hope this helps.
 
Thea Olsen
Posts: 95
Location: suburbs of Chicago USDA zone 5b
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I use a mason jar on a heating pad. If you want it to be really thick, like Greek yogurt, you'll need to strain out the whey through cheesecloth or a coffee filter. That's how Greek yogurt is make.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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The insulated container to incubate the soon-to-be-yogurt does seem to be what you are missing. I've heard some people have had luck with using their oven overnight, but a small or large cooler with some extra water in it (thermal mass) pre-heated to the right temp, works very well.

Any live culture yogurt (most of them?), without flavoring or fruit additives should work fine for a starter culture.

If you want a more thick product right out of the cooler, add a tablespoon or two of non-fat powdered milk to the milk before adding the yogurt starter culture. Mix it in well and it usually helps. Otherwise, use some cheesecloth that is folded several times and strain out the whey. You will end up with the greek yogurt texture after awhile (varies). If you let it go further, you get a nice spreadable, soft-cheese (labneh?).
 
Gray Simpson
Posts: 67
Location: McDonough, GA
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I ordered a Viili starter from Cultures for Health. Unfortunately, it shipped during a 106 degree heat wave. I took it out of the mailbox as soon as the mail truck left, and followed all of the instructions. The first packet just turned the milk into curds with an unpleasant texture and smell. However, I have successfully made five batches of yogurt from the second packet (by saving a tablespoon of the yogurt each time and stirring it in a fresh cup of milk.) However, this Viilli yogurt has a strong buttery taste that I don't like at all. Their website says Viili has "the mildest taste, making it our most popular yogurt culture particularly among customers switching their family off commercial yogurt." Unfortunately, nobody in my family will touch the stuff. Maybe I can use it in place of buttermilk, but that's it.
 
Linda Depersis
Posts: 8
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I make yogurt once or twice a week and it turns out nice and thick each time. I use raw milk, so I heat it initially to 180. You can skip this step if you aren't using raw. Here is how I do it:

Pour milk into 1 quart jars. No lids.
Set the jars in a large pot (I use my black canning pot) and fill to just below the neck of the jars with warm water.
Clip a thermometer to one of the jars to read the milk temp.
Heat the milk to 180 for raw milk, 110 for pasteurized milk.
Once the milk is at 180, cool it down to 110.
While cooling, turn on your oven to lowest temp. 170 for mine.
Now add 2 TB of your yogurt starter to each quart jar. (I use a plain Greek yogurt from the store). Stir.
Turn off oven, Turn on oven light.
Put lids on the jars, put back into the pot of warm water. Put a lid on the canning pot & put everything in the oven. Leave for 12hrs.

Thick & creamy every time.


 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Just to complicate matters further, I don't even heat my raw milk before adding the culture, as I've inadvertently pasteurised it too many times.
Just adding warm water to the thermos thingy does the trick for setting it.
 
Stacy Zoozwick
Posts: 74
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I just made yogurt for 1st time from my goats milk. LOL I think I really screwed it up and don’t know if it will even turn out.
First off I boiled the milk, second I put the culture in when it was hot didnt wait till it was 110'. LOL I bet that kill the bacteria I needed to make yogurt.
Well we shall see by tomorrow morn If it works. SHOULD I EVEN EAT IT?? WILL I GET SICK??
Oh the one thing I can’t seem to find out is, when do you put the fruit in?? When it's cold or hot?
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Stacy, unless the milk was blood temperature when you added the culture, I'd say it's dead. I'd just stir more culture through, without reheating and get/keep the mix warm.
You should absolutely not get sick.
Pasteurising the milk is recommended by many, but if you're confident that your animal's are healthy, I suggest keeping the milk raw: pasteurising kills off all sorts of the good things in milk and if I'd gone to the effort of milking my own goats, I'd want to get the most out of it.
If you do pasteurise, it definitely doesn't need to boil. I find boiling really effects milk's taste.
 
Terry Wise
Posts: 1
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Just curious - would an aquarium heater - the kind used for tropical fish - and an old aquarium work for the "vessel?"

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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i generally use 1/2 pint to pint containers on a heating pad and set the entire mess on top of the refrigerator
 
Tom OHern
Posts: 236
Location: Seattle, WA
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I made yogurt last winter for the first time and have really come to like my microwave method.

- At about 9pm. I pour a 1/2 gallon into a glass bowl with a lid and microwave it for 8-10 min. This gets it up to about 120ºF.

- I place the bowl in a chest cooler and close the lid.

- I come back at about 10pm and fill my tea kettle up with about two quarts of water to boil.

- I mix in two heaping table spoons of yogurt to the now ~110ºF milk in the bowl.

- I fill two quart mason jars with boiling water, put on lids and close them in with the bowl of milk in the cooler and then I go to bed.

- I wake up at about 5-5:30a and strain the yogurt for 30 min, put it back in the bowl and whisk it smooth and then spoon it into jars.

My wife swears this is the best Greek yogurt she's ever had and I have never not had a batch turn out.
 
Peter Hartman
Posts: 176
Location: springfield, MO
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I hate recipes. We buy raw milk. I do 1 half gallon at a time. Heat milk until it starts to get frothy. cool to 90 degrees. Add a few spoonfuls of yogurt from last batch. place in cooler half filled with water at 90 degrees. It usually takes 8-10 hours and then it goes in the fridge.
 
S Haze
Posts: 229
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
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These all look like good methods to me.

The only thing I'll throw into the discussion is that I started leaving the yogurt to ferment for up to 24 hours after reading something written by someone into the Weston Price thing. This makes it a bit more on the tangy side and sometimes thicker although my results usually vary because I don't do the exact same thing every time and the time between batches varies from 1-3 weeks. I've used the same starter for years and try to use more of it when the time between the batches is longer. Probably anywhere from 1 to 4 tablespoons per quart but I'm not measuring. I've thought a couple times that I maybe killed it but usually after one batch that's runnier than I like it the next one turns out fine.

Other than that I prefer using either a hot pad or putting quart jars into a small stockpot on an electric burner I rigged up with an external thermostat that keeps it right at 110 F. Using electricity sucks but that way I don't have to pay much attention to it or have a bulky cooler cluttering up the kitchen.
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 477
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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I make it from raw milk from time to time:

Heat the milk to inoculating temperature and add some yoghurt containing active culture.
Pour it into containers
Place a hot water bottle in the bottom of a cooler
Cover the hot water bottle with a folded newspaper so it's about 1/2 to an inch thick
Place the containers on top
Cover with more newspaper and close the lid.

In the morning I have yoghurt. If I want Greek yoghurt then I strain the contents through a tea towel, or a sieve lined with a de-laminated paper towel to act as a filter.

The greenish liquid that comes off is whey, and you can use this for cooking, or making ricotta cheese.


 
John Saltveit
gardener
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These are really good ideas. When I was a kid, we had a yogurt maker. They were pretty popular in the 1970's, when yogurt was a new experimental food in the US. Not that much yogurt was available in the grocery store. I like the idea of making it from raw milk, so it doesn't have so many dead cells in it and it has all the nutrition and enzymes. One of these days I'm going to try it. Thanks for sharing your recipes.
John S
PDX OR
 
Bryan Kushner
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A cheap/fast way to thicken your yogurt is to add a thickener like gelatin, agar agar, or tapioca starch.  You add these thickeners to the milk as it is heated and use a whisk to blend well.  Then cool the milk/thickener mixture and add your starter.

The best Greek style comes from using a Bulgarian starter which produces thick yogurt during fermentation.  Then strain the yogurt in cheese cloth or a bouillon strainer to desired thickness.  This yogurt can be substituted in Greek yogurt cooking recipes.  The tartness goes down with increasing the straining or increasing the percent milk fat.

The method of holding milk at 180 deg F or so does help thicken milk by removing water content.  I do that sometimes but use a double boiler so I don't scorch the milk.  Heating the milk also denatures the whey proteins which helps them coagulate when cooled.
 
David Livingston
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Bryan
I am surprised you mention agar agar and the other thickeners as I often use agar agar to make Jams and it requires ten mins of boiling to work . This seems like a lot of work for yogurt . Is it easy to do with yogurt ?

David
 
Bryan Kushner
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Hi David,

I haven't noticed a problem... add the agar-agar to the milk at the beginning heating (~1/2 tsp per quart of milk).  Bring temperature to 185 degrees and immediately turn of heat.  Let sit for about 15 min before you put it in a ice bath to cool it off.  This is popular with vegan yogurts that use coconut milk, almond milk, etc because those yogurts don't set up well on their own.

~Bryan  
 
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