Monday, March 21, 2011

~Homemade Yogurt....Let's Get Cultural~

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picture from marthastewart.com

Ingredients

Makes 4 cups
  • 5 cups whole, low-fat, or skim milk
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt with active cultures

Directions

  1. In a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan, heat milk, stirring frequently over medium heat, to 185 degrees. Remove from heat, and let cool to 110 degrees.
  2. Place yogurt in a medium bowl. Using a whisk, gradually stir in cooled milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until smooth between additions. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, poking two or three holes for ventilation. Transfer to a warm place (about 90 degrees., and let sit until milk begins to thicken around the edges and the yogurt is set, about 5 hours.
  3. Place bowl in refrigerator until completely chilled. Reserve at least 1/4 cup of this yogurt to begin next batch. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.
From Martha Stewart Living, July/August 2000
Read more at Marthastewart.com: Homemade Yogurt - Martha Stewart Recipes

Raise your hands if you've ever had plain yogurt before.  Just what I thought, about half of you.  Until now, I've only used plain yogurt for making dips and in a few other concoctions. Over the years, I've become quite the connoisseur of yogurt.  In the beginning, it was Dannon or Yoplait and then it slowly progressed to brands such as Trader Joe's organic yogurt, and some handmade brands that are made in small batches from Napa.  Out of all these brands, the yogurt that I made myself is cosmically out-out-of-this-world divine. Most plain yogurts are sour, however the yogurt from Martha's recipe is perfectly smooth, mellow and creamy.  This is a must have recipe.  In a quarter of an hour, you can have a full batch for yourself.

The first time that I made yogurt, I was almost 18.  I lived in a small, two bedroom apartment, worked at a newly opened smoothie shop and I was raising Jordan (now 12) while I was finishing High School.  Anyway, it was easy to make then, and easy to make now.  I wish that I'd kept up with my yogurt making, but nonetheless I'm back at it.

The Science Behind Yogurt

Yogurt is a result of bacterial fermentation.  Wow, I still remember the days of bio 101 and having to understand and memorize bacterial fermentation.  In fact, for those interested, here is the equation: C12H22O11 + H2O → 4 CH3CHOHCOOH.  the lactic acid (the sour taste of yogurt) acidifies the mixture producing curd (the solid mass).

The bacteria that are used to for the fermentation process are called the "cultures".  Such cultures include:



Essentially, it is the heating (denaturing proteins and killing unwanted bacteria) of the milk and the addition of the yogurt (cultures) that creates the fermentation process that yields the yummy product. 

Actually, his could even be served frozen as a yogurt pop by simply pouring the yogurt into plastic Popsicle containers.  Mmmm...wouldn't that be a treat?

Photo Gallery

 I chose to use whole milk because I wanted to make a thicker, less runny yogurt.
When making the yogurt, use 1/4 cup of plain yogurt that contains live and active cultures.  Brown Cow has become my recent favorite. 

Gabriel's job was to hold the thermometer for me until we were ready.  He is a yogurt-nut so he was thrilled to be apart of making one of his favorite foods.
Heat milk (stirring constantly) until your candy thermometer reaches 185 degrees.  This will vary, but it took me about 10 minutes or so. 
Waiting and mixing
Notice the tiny bubbles that form as the temperature rises.  Make sure to scrape the bottom as you mix.  Otherwise, the milk will burn on the bottom of the pot (that would taste horrible in your yogurt).
Once the milk is heated to the correct temperature, I poured the hot milk into the cultured yogurt and whisked them together.
Let the yogurt sit for up to five hours with plastic wrap on top. Make sure to poke holes on the top too.  This time of year, nothing is 90 degrees.  So, I turned on my stove-top burner and set my bowl of yogurt near it (make sure it doesn't get too hot).  Then, after about five hours, you will notice that your yogurt has thickened.  Refrigerate and enjoy!  You have just made your first batch of yogurt. Yay you!


Morgan's Minute


Learning how to make popular food items in your kitchen will make you very popular at home, trust me.  I enjoy knowing that I had a hand in making something that my family loves to eat.  Problem is, I didn’t have a mother that took the time to show me anything home related... and that includes cooking.  It is through this project that I'm hoping to finally figure out all this “homemaking stuff”.

Often times, I feel as If I’m blind, merely finding my way through motherhood on “gut instinct” alone.  Most of us don't publicly discuss such matters, but not all of us inherently know how to mother our children, or even know how to take care of a home.  My mother left our family when I was young so learning from example was not an option for me.  However, that didn’t mean that I couldn’t figure all this out from simply turning on my TV and watching Martha, or from picking up a magazine while standing in line at the store. My father was also important in shaping my passion for cooking, as he had to learn how to chop, julienne and fry for the first time when I was in seventh grade.  Watching him swallow his heart and forge ahead in the kitchen was an experience that has stayed with me forever.    

One reason that I like Martha is because she sets a high standard for the homemaker.  For it is she that sets the motherly example as she "shows me" how to properly set my table, and how to create an orderly home with more structure.  Utilizing the skills and tips that she has to offer requires us to simply put in our time and of course, a few dollars.  Keep in mind that this “Everyday Living” lifestyle is a no experience necessary commitment and having the “perfect mother” is NOT a prerequisite to achieving the quality lifestyle that her work offers. 

Born from hippie parents, I was supposed to get a corporate, high paying job (I came complete with a gender-neutral name to make gender discrimination somehow harder), make my own money, pay my own bills and stand independently from my husband.  How is that possible now that my day job requires an apron and house shoes?  I am thankful for people like Martha, because without them, I'd probably still be blind.  My vision is still far from 20/20, but as each project gets completed I slowly begin to obtain my sight.

May we all continue to search for answers when we are in need, and may we continue to shine our light into the lives of our loved ones.  Until next time…
 

 Live Well,


          Morgan

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