Homemade Yogurt

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I like yogurt. But not any kind of yogurt. I love rich, thick, creamy Greek yogurt–the more expensive, the better. For the last couple of years, I’ve made my own yogurt, and it can turn out great–or fail absolutely.

This past week, I made some of the best yogurt ever.

In theory, yogurt is quite simple to make. Take 1/2 gallon of milk, and heat to 180*F, then allow to cool to 105-115*F, then add 1/2 cup of plain yogurt and mix well. Put in a water bath at a temperature of 115*F until it thickens, about 8 hours. Now, to thicken, sweeten, and flavor the yogurt, things get a bit more complicated–but not by much.

Combine with the cold milk 1/2 cup nonfat milk powder (thickener), 1/2 packet of unflavored gelatin (thickener), 2 tbsp vanilla extract (flavor), and 2 tbsp maple syrup (sweetener & flavor).

That’s one of the most basic recipes, and I add both gelatin and nonfat milk powder because I like thick yogurt. If I don’t add the gelatin, I use cheesecloth to strain the yogurt and reach a Greek-like consistency, but then my yield is less.

This time, I had some half and half that was about to expire. So I made yogurt out of it.

I’d never used half and half for yogurt making before (and have never used cream, although I’m sure that would be an absolute delicacy). For the sake of my health, I don’t plan on repeating this half and half experiment, but it had been awhile since I’d used gelatin in my yogurt, and I’d forgotten how nicely it sets up with it. So I need to keep gelatin on hand again, and buy it in “bulk,” not those little boxes of tiny packets.

Also, since I now have a proofing box, I can use it to make yogurt (supposedly), so I need to experiment with that. Obviously, the heat is the most important thing in incubating the yogurt cultures, which should stay around 115*F. But I’ve only made yogurt with a water bath before, never dry heat. So it’ll be interesting to see if it makes a difference or if the results are the same.

Regardless, the yogurt making was a success. I love it when things work out according to my desires…

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