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Homemade Yogurt

February 17, 2012

Here’s a neat magic trick: put a spoonful of yogurt into a bowl of warm milk, let it sit around for a while, and the whole thing turns into yogurt. I tried it this weekend.  Even though I work with microscopic organisms for a living, it still boggles my mind that this actually works.  I can’t see the little Lactobaccili doing their thing in there, pumping out acid that coagulates the milk, so it looks like alchemy.  Yogurt turns everything it touches into yogurt.

But anyway, you’re probably looking for the recipe.

This recipe comes from Lois Braun of the Hampden Park Co-op, and she explains it better than I could myself, so here’s a link to the detailed instructions.  Here’s what you’re going to need:

  • Some yogurt that says “live and active cultures” on the package.
  • A quart of milk.
  • A couple of empty yogurt tubs.
  • A great big pot.

First, make sure that all your equipment is clean so you don’t contaminate your yogurt with bacteria you don’t want.

Heat the milk just to the point of boiling on the stove.  Keep an eye on it because milk tends to burn easily.  Meanwhile, fill your great big pot with room-temperature water from the tap.  I used a jumbo crock pot that’s too big for cooking food in, and it worked well because it’s insulated.

The setup, part 1

Once the milk is boiling, pour it into the empty yogurt tubs.  Stick the tubs into the pot full of water and stir them a bit to let the temperature equalize.  The temperature of both the milk and the water bath should be just a bit hotter than body temperature, about 100º F.  Drop a spoonful of yogurt into each tub and stir in.  Then cap the tubs up, put the lid on the pot, and wrap it up in as many towels and blankets as you can.

The setup, part 2

Let it sit around for a few hours.  I tried overnight, and that worked well.

When you open it up, you get – magic! – the whole thing has turned into yogurt.  It has a delicate texture, because it doesn’t have any carageenan to thicken it up, and it is delicious.  And you can put whatever goshdanged sweetener into it you want.

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