Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yogurt Round 2

So I thought my 1st batch of yogurt was delicious, but I thought it could be a little thicker or at the very least, separate less.

Changes to the original recipe:
I decided to make another batch today since we had just finished our last jar from the 1st try. I wanted to make a few changes to see if it would improve the texture. The 1st change I made is to purchase Yoplait yogurt as a starter rather than Dannon. I also read this Melissa's Food Blog for some advice. What I did try from her method was to warm the milk to 190 degrees and keep it there for 30 minutes. Most recipes call for heating it to 190 and immediately bringing the temp down to 120 degrees. She says she does this to thicken the yogurt. In addition to those changes, I also added another Tsp. of Pure Vanilla Extract as compared to the recipe. I wanted a very obvious vanilla flavor and scent.

The yogurt was great. It was slightly thicker, more flavorful, and smooth (less grainy). The differences were noticeable right away. The yogurt still isn't thick like a greek yogurt, but still satisfying. Paul noticed the change in flavor right away... it must have been that added tsp of vanilla. We both noticed a better texture. I don't know if this is because of the yoplait or because of the 30 minute heating at 190 degrees. My next batch will use a cup of yogurt from this batch as a starter and I guess we'll see how that goes.

Here are some supplies that I use.

I begin by bringing a pot of water to a boil to clean my jars. I toss the jars and caps in there and let it come to a boil. Then I use a pair of thongs to fish them out and lay them on a clean dishtowel to dry. I usually skip this process if the jars came strait out of the dishwasher. In this case, they were new and came out of my basket in the backroom of jars.
I pick up mason jars when they are on sale and save most of my glass jelly jars for reuse. I even keep olive and pickle jars, but those need a bit of sunlight and a good wash to get the smell out.

I also make sure I have my cooler in the kitchen nice and handy (and clean).

Next I bring the milk to temperature in a second pot. I use a candy thermometer to keep track of the temperatures.

After about 30 minutes at 190 degrees, I place the entire pot into a sink of icey cold water to bring the temperature down to 120 degrees. Be careful not to place a cast iron or ceramic pot of hot liquids into ice water... it will crack.

Once at 120 degrees, I add the vanilla, sugar & yogurt starter. I stir till combined and ladle into my clean mason jars.

I place the jars into the clean cooler. So here is the step where I deviate a bit. I've already heated water to clean my mason jars. Rather than heat another gallon of water, I add a couple of cups of cool water to the already hot pot of water until it reaches a temperature of 120 degrees. Once I'm sure it's cool enough, I add approximately 1 gallon (probably more actually because I don't measure) around the jars into the cooler. Close the cooler and set my oven timer to 3.5 hours. I let them sit there to give the cultures time to make this warm sugary milk into yogurt.

After 3.5 hours, I pull the jars out, dry off the outsides, let them rest for a few minutes, then add them to the middle of my refrigerator. I make it a general rule to keep dairy in the center of my fridge away from the door where the temperatures are more consistent and cooler.

You can click on any of the photos to enlarge.

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