At least the new addition doesn’t eat much, doesn’t shed (unlike the dog), and doesn’t always bring home tchotchkes it finds at flea markets (like my husband and I do). Our new little buddy also doesn’t make any noise, and doesn’t take up much room at all—because she lives in the refrigerator.
What, you don’t talk about your Yogurt Mother Culture like she’s a member of your family? Well, maybe if you loved yogurt as much as I do—and if you loved making yogurt as much as I do now—you just might start including your Mother Culture in your holiday newsletters and throwing her birthday parties. I’m just saying: This little lady has changed my life for the better, and I’m thrilled to have her around.
Before I finally ponied up for a yogurt incubator and starter culture, I was living a totally unsustainable life of wanton dairyness. A devotee of thick, Greek-style strained yogurt, I was amassing quite an impressive weekly pile of empty plastic tubs. Not only that, but when I discovered my preferred brand isn’t organic (I won’t name names, but its initials are Fage), I realized I had to put the k’bosh on my wasteful ways. Having recently read Anne Mendelson’s fantastic book Milk, I also knew that it was possible—surely, it must be possible! —to make store-bought quality yogurt at home, and I determined to try.
Not only is it possible, it's easy. Almost impossibly easy! And the yogurt is of at least the same quality (I daresay I actually find it even better, but that might be the "I Made This!" talking.)
Deciding to go with a nonelectric maker was ecologically important to me, as is buying local milk from organic dairies, which I am only too happy to do. Straining through a reusable cheesecloth lets me achieve that incredible, creamy texture I love so much, and I get fully four times as much yogurt for my buck as before while simultaneously eliminating the bulk of that plastic waste.
Get yourself a new little friend, stick her in the fridge, and let her bring a bit more culture to your life. (She might not give great advice or anything, but she is pretty delicious with fresh blueberries.)
One of the great things about making yogurt is that you don't even need a starter culture: You can just use a little bit of the type of yogurt you already prefer. Just be sure to find out what kind of active cultures are in your premade stuff (you'll need to know if they are thermophilic), and you can save a bit from each batch to propagate the next.
For a half gallon of milk, I get about 32oz Greek-style yogurt. You can use the liquid whey that strains off from the yogurt to make ricotta, or as a replacement for water, buttermilk, or milk in most recipes. (I use mine to soak muesli for breakfast.)
Credit to Cultures for Health for the original instructions.
starter culture or premade yogurt
|Heat milk in a saucepan to 160–180°F, as read on a candy thermometer. (The milk should bubble gently and a thin layer of foam will form along the top.) Allow the milk to cool to about 112°F, then pour it into your Yogotherm or other insulated container. Mix in the starter (2tsp starter per 8oz milk), cover, and allow to sit for eight to ten hours. |
Transfer to the refrigerator and cool completely; strain to desired thickness if so inclined. (I use a doubled-over cheesecloth over a colander, resting in a bowl).
Have you ever made yogurt? Well what are you waiting for??