Saturday, July 16, 2011

Making Yogurt

I'm so tired of pulling and chopping weeds I could scream, so I decided it was a good day for inside kinds of work.

So first thing this morning I started working on tightening all of R's locs. It's something that has to be done every couple of weeks or so, as her hair grows, and it takes a good hour or two depending on how much work her locs need.


I love R's hair this way. The locs are mostly all locked now, and her hair looks and feels so soft and natural. Once her hair grows a bit more and we can trim the straightened hair off the ends, it will be easier to see the locs. I've been braiding the locs around her face into a "headband" to keep her hair out of her face... She also pulls them all back into ponytails or a bun, and we curl them sometimes. I'm so glad her hair is locked, I just wish we had done it years ago!

While I worked on her hair, I started a batch of yogurt. I've been eating store bought for awhile (feeling too busy to take the time to make homemade) but decided today was the perfect day to replenish my supply of homemade yogurt.

The recipe I follow is super easy and has turned out well each time I've made it. I start by heating a (scant) gallon or so of milk on the stove. I just use as much milk as will fit in my dutch oven without filling it too full, and I use the milk we regularly have, which is skim, and it seems to work fine... although I've been told that my yogurt would turn out thicker if I used richer milk. I'm fine with the consistency so I'm going to keep using skim.

I heat the milk (stirring frequently) on low heat, to 180 F, then turn off the heat and let it cool to 110 F.

Once it cools down to 110 F, I add my starter. I use store bought yogurt (plain, with active yogurt cultures) for starter... I measure it into 1/2 cup dollops, and then freeze it so I always have some starter when I need it. So far this method has worked fine. I take a 1/2 cup of frozen yogurt from the freezer and let it thaw while I'm heating and cooling the milk.

Since the yogurt needs to be kept at a fairly uniformly warm temperature, I use my hot water canner to "incubate" the yogurt. I fill the canner with enough water to come to the shoulder of my quart canning jars and heat the water to 110 F.


I put my milk/yogurt culture mix into quart jars and once the water in the canner hits 110, I add my jars. (Yes, I reused some can lids... but since I'm not really "canning" and the yogurt is going to kept in the refrigerator... not on the shelf... I don't see any reason to use new ones each time.)

They need to be kept at about 110 F for 6-8 hours, so I just keep my canner on the stove, turning the stove on low from time to time to keep the water the right temperature. I found that 5 minutes or so of low heat every 45 minutes to an hour keeps the temperature about right... I do use the thermometer though too... just to make sure.)

It's an all day process (remembering to check the water temperature and heat it back up when needed) but the results are wonderful... four quarts of fresh, delicious yogurt (At a cost of less than $2.00!) My favorite breakfast is a bowl of plain yogurt fancied up with a little honey and raisins. Mmmmm...

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