Sunday, February 12, 2012

Yogurt Making Skill Share

Our evening of yogurt making was a smashing success. Joan VanWassenhove and her boyfriend, Dean Paetzold welcomed us skill-sharers with delicious hors d'oeuvres and wine while we all chatted and got acquainted with their cats.

Soon the much-anticipated time came for the yogurt-making, so we all followed Dean into the kitchen where he went through the whole process for us from start to finish. He had even made three batches the night before so we could taste the different kinds. He made one with goat yogurt because there was a request for that from our group. It tasted great, but turned out a little bit thin, so he is going to tweak the recipe. The other two kinds of yogurt were made with cow's milk and were major crowd pleasers. He showed us how to sterilize the pot
you use, how to heat and cool down the milk, add the yogurt and then put it in a warm place to incubate and let the bacterial cultures do their work.
To incubate they wrap the pot in a heating blanket and set it in a laundry basket overnight.
The temperature is easily controlled that way. He then showed us how you strain it through cheese cloth to make it different thicknesses. We were all brainstorming what to make with the leftover whey and one of our members mentioned she had seen a limoncello recipe that called for whey...possibly a future skill share in the making.

The whole process was surprisingly simple, but you may have to do a little bit of trial and error experimenting. However Dean has done a lot of that for us, so if you follow the directions he has provided below, you should make a successful batch of yogurt. Joan and Dean had also prepared a batch of delicious homemade granola, also which they kindly included below. The yogurt was great plain, or with a little spoonful of honey...or my personal favorite, with a little bit of fresh-ground peanut butter. I know that sounds weird. It did to me too at first, but try it. You just might like it.


Skill Share: Basic Yogurt Making


½ gal. - 1 gal. milk (the best to use in my experience is whole milk from Jersey cows. The
higher percentage if protein results in thicker yogurt without straining)
2 Tablespoons plain yogurt with live active cultures
Pot, Whisk, Kitchen thermometer, Cheesecloth, Colander, Bowl

1) Sterilize
Sterilize all vessels and utensils. Boil a few cups of water in such a way that the steam
comes in contact with everything the milk will come in contact with. That is, put the whisk in
the pot and let the boiling water steam the whisk for a few minutes.
Empty the water from the pot and put the whisk on clean surface (such as the sterilized lid
from the pot).

2) Heat Milk
Pour the milk into the pot and heat the milk to 180 degrees F. Stirring will help keep the milk
from burning on the bottom.

3) Cool Milk
Cool the milk to 110 degrees F. This can be done rapidly by having a sink half full of cold
water at hand. Place the pot in the cold water and stir the milk while slowly pushing the pot
back and forth to agitate the water.

4) Add Yogurt culture and Incubate
Once the milk is at 110 degrees use the same whisk to deliver the inoculation. A couple
tablespoons of any plain yogurt with "live active cultures" will do the trick.
Cover the pot and maintain a minimum of 105 degrees and a maximum of 120 degrees for at
least 6 hours and not more than 12 hours. The ideal temperature is 110 degrees. An 8-hour
culture seems best. Swaddling the pot in a heating blanket and extra blankets works well.
An oven with just the pilot burning may be warm enough. Do not disturb the yogurt.
After this period of time the yogurt should be ready. It can then go into containers and into
the fridge.

5) Strain to thicken
Pour a little boiling water over cheesecloth, colander, and bowl to be used.
To drain: place a colander in a bowl, line the colander with cheese cloth that has been
double or triple folded, pour yogurt into cloth, and fold excess cloth over the yogurt. Placing
a light plate or bowl over directly on the cloth will help facilitate more thorough draining of the
Draining 40% to 50% of the whey from the yogurt will result in a thickness similar to what you
find in many store bought yogurts. This may take 1 to 2 hours. To achieve thicker, greekstyle
yogurt drain about 75% out.

Example: For normal thickness, drain 1.5 to 2 quarts of whey from 1 gal. of yogurt, leaving 2
to 2.5 quarts yogurt.
Fully thickened "greek" yogurt may need 3 to 4 hours of draining, or overnight in fridge. If
you let it drain for 2+ days you will achieve something akin to cream cheese.
Pour off clear/yellow whey to allow for more drainage if your bowl is not deep enough.

Clean Up
When done, wash cheesecloth by hand in several changes of warm, soapy water. Air dry.
Store in ziplock bag to reuse.

Homemade Granola
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Prepare 2 very lightly oiled baking/cooking sheets.
In saucepan over high heat, reduce 1 cup apple cider down to ½ cup.
In a large bowl mix dry ingredients:
4 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts
¼ to ½ cup each any seeds or grain flakes to taste. Ground flax and wheat germ
works well.

In a separate, small bowl mix wet ingredients:
3 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup reduced apple cider (see above)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Spread evenly on greased baking sheets. Bake for a total of
40 minutes, rotating pans and stirring granola every 10 minutes to ensure even browning.
Add any desired dried fruit after baking.