Sunday, April 20, 2008

curds and whey

For the last few weeks, I've been making the household's weekly quart o' yogurt. Praise is due to Mama Monster, although our yogurt technique is more low-tech. Just follow these simple directions and you too can change a quart of milk (plus a couple spoonfuls of yogurt) into a quart (plus a few spoonfuls) of yogurt! All you need is two pots, a kitchen thermometer, a towel, and some heat.

At least for the milk and yogurt we get, it's actually much cheaper to just buy the milk and turn it into yogurt ourselves ($2.25 for a quart of milk vs $4.00 for a quart of yogurt).

Every beginner's bound to slip up sometime, though. Witness today, when I left the improvised double-boiler to heat up about a hundred degrees above 110°F. The water boiled, the bacteria got crazy and died, the milk curdled and separated, and I got disappointed. Considering I had made a double batch this time to bring some for a work colleague, I pouted and kvetched to Maria all evening long.

But Maria saved the evening with an inspirational turn of phrase:

"When life gives you schlimazel, make cheese!"

And thus, dear readers, was born Schlimazel Cheese. Or maybe Schlimazel Quark.

The full array: bowl, strainer, spoon, cheesecloth, salt. That's all it takes, folks, for reals.


Mama Monster said...

Once someone (hmmm who could it have been?) turned the crock pot that I was incubating the yogurt in to high and the bacteria died and all that was waiting for me in the morning was soupy sour milk. Yuck.

I'm taking a yogurt making hiatus because I'm doing the vegan thing right now. I haven't tried to make, gasp!, soy yogurt yet. Right now I'm just trying to get my kids to accept it in place of the real thing.

Anonymous said...

A question:

I am intrigued by making my own yogurt since I actually like the stuff but am irritated by the container issues (even our co-op uses the barely recyclable plastic containers). I printed out the directions and will have to give them a try sometime -- thank you so much for posting them!

And the question is: how would I use a crock pot to make the yogurt? Would that totally replace the "double boiler" contraption? How would I regulate the temperature? I ask because it seems like that would be an *awesome* use of my crock pot and much less hassle overall.

Thanks for any help you can offer. I'm just starting on some of this stuff, and I'm very grateful for any help at all!

Laurie in MN
p.s. Please feel free to e-mail me if you'd rather not post the answer. laurie 'at' manytoes 'dot' com

maria said...

MM - i hear soy milk can easily be used in place of regular milk to make soy yogurt. haven't tried it though.

laurie - i don't know, but it seems like it might work great if you can control the temperature on your crockpot. if it just says "low" "medium" and "high" maybe you can find out what those mean (in terms of exact temperature) in the user manual. the double boiler thing is just to make sure the milk doesn't get too hot too quickly. i've never used a crockpot so i'm not sure.

MaverickMama said...

My mama taught me this super simple method for yogurt making.

-insulated lunch box
-glass containers with lids
-one pan

fill the pan with milk and heat to between 105 and 125 degrees.

While milk is heating put the glass containers into the lunch box and fill with very warm water.

Add a couple of spoons of yogurt culture (I've been using mine for a couple of months without problems.) Mix well.

Pour into glass containers and cover with lids. Shut the lid on the lunch box. Walk away for 4 to 7 hours. Put lovely yogurt in the frig. Yum.

This method takes about 10 minutes to set up and clean up. Easy.