Fermentation is incredible.What can connect you more with nature than this interaction with microbes? Truly we should all go back to brewing and cheese making in each of our households, securing tradition through recipes and method. That would be a fermenting utopia.
Yogurt is my first venture into what will hopefully be a long career of fermentation. It’s certainly one of the most gratifying and simplest forms. While it’s a game of patience, as it can take a day or more, it’s almost entirely hands free. All you’re really doing is setting up an ideal, fermentable circumstance and receiving a luxurious and fresh end product. The microbes are doing all the heavy lifting.
The Learning Curve
Pasteurization is key here. I know I’m all about raw milk cheeses, but when it comes to yogurt-making, you want clean, consistent and even results. Heating the milk to 185° F prepares the milk proteins for bacterial reproduction.
Keep your thermometer on hand. The temperatures really matter. at 110 ° F, the micro organisms (usually lactobacillus bulgaricus or streptococcus thermophilus, or both) consume the milk sugars (lactose) and produce lactic acid. This process produces thickened curdled milk with a sour tang, preserving the milk. Not only is the milk preserved in this process, but all those live cultures are amazing in digestive aid.
Keep it warm for longer for thicker and tangier results. The longer you allow your milk to ferment in the warm spot, the thicker and more sour it will become. Start at 7 hours and see how you like it, then adjust your next batch to your tastes.
Save some for later! Save a portion of your homemade yogurt for the next batch. Eventually, it will become your very own yogurt culture. If you make yogurt consistently, you can be friends with your culture forever.
- 1 qt Milk
- 2 T plain, high quality yogurt with live active cultures
- Fresh fruit, jam or honey to serve.
- Double boiler
- Warm weather // a warm oven
- Mason Jar
You can begin by sterilizing your equipment, though I don’ always t find this necessary, it’s not a bad idea to ensure success with your first batch. Begin by filling a large pot halfway with water and setting it over medium-low heat. Add your thermometer, inner bowl (for the boiler) and mason jar. Cover and steam for a couple minutes.
Add the milk to the double boiler, with the heat at medium low. Heat to 185° F. This will set up the milk proteins, making them a better match for the culture. The longer you maintain this temperature, the thicker your yogurt will be. I like to maintain for 30 minutes.
Set up an ice bath. Cool the treated milk to 110°F. Add the yogurt culture and whisk, allowing all those cultures to dissipate into the milk. Cover and keep warm, either in your oven on the very lowest setting or outside in the sweltering summer sun. You’ll want to keep it warm for at least 6 hours, but you can go as long as a day if you’d like. The longer you let it sit, the thicker and tangier it will become.