alive & active

Today I made yogurt.

So here’s the thing, I love pie & I make a killer one, but whoever invented the phrase “easy as pie” was wrong, cause pie is totally hard. Yogurt though–completely easy.

The steps are these: warm some milk, add some culture, wait. Seriously, that’s it.; and if what you’re thinking now is, “well, where am I supposed to get culture?” Then I would tell you to go to an art gallery. Ba dum ching! No really, if you have a cup of Dannon in the fridge then you have live, active culture.

And now, I’ll explain the steps in a bit more detail.

WARM SOME MILK

Using 1/2 a gallon of dairy will result in about 1 quart of thick, greek-style yogurt. You could use skim milk, whole milk, goat’s milk–whatever floats your dairy wagon–and guess what, if your milk is starting to sour (you know when it’s not quite bad but just beginning to develop a questionable aroma), you can save it with this method. Using a candy thermometer and occasionally stirring, gently warm your milk to approximately 180 degrees–the magic temperature that will kill off any bad bacteria. If you’d like to perfume the whole batch you could throw in a cinnamon stick or lime zest. Once you’ve reached 180, pour the warm milk into a holding vessel and wait until the temp comes down to between 110-120 degrees.

ADD SOME CULTURE

So here’s the thing, to make yogurt you must already have yogurt. Counterintuitive, yes, but once you have the method down you never have to buy yogurt again, so stick with me. You can use virtually any yogurt available in the store–if you want insurance look for the phrase “contains live active cultures.” I recommend plain & I use nonfat; you’ll need about one tablespoon per pint of milk. When you’ve reached 120 degrees, just stir it in. Done. Except for the waiting.

WAIT

You’ll want to keep your gestating yogurt in a warm place. I like to keep mine in a bowl, covered with a towel, on an eye of the stove with the oven turned to 200 degrees. Four hours later: yogurt. Although it tastes pretty mild at this point & I generally leave it out for a few more hours to develop greater tang, then strain through a cheesecloth or paper towel and refrigerate. You’re free at this point to add any flavoring: vanilla, jam, maple syrup, honey, pickled jalapeno…

There you go: yogurt, cheaper and more delicious than any you’ll buy–trust me. Plus, you’re left with all the whey that you’ve strained off & you’ll be surprised by all the culinary adventures you can have with it. At least I hope you will–I’m only just starting those adventures myself.

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