a home cook with notions & an appetite
Cheese is something that husband and I are always up for…and perhaps something we might be looking into making at home. But we’re not jumping into the deep end and aging a wheel of Parmesan in the basement right off the bat. Instead, I come across Dr. David Fankhauser’s Cheesemaking Course and his further fromage adventures. What he presents is a progressive cheese course – yogurt, labneh, neufchatel, basic cheese and mozzarella – designed to increase your confidence and skill. Of course, we also bought Mary Karlin’s Artisan Cheesemaking at Home and found her beginning cheeses – marsarpone, low-fat panir, queso blanco, whole milk ricotta, whey ricotta, and YOGURT (and a bunch of others) as well. And then I called Dad and mentioned my plan to start with yogurt and found out that he’d made it all the time in an overnight-oven method once mentioned in a Mother Jones article. I also consult a Wiki-How article on the matter as well.
That being said, this is how I made my own yogurt using the following:
One can buy powdered yogurt starter from cheesemaking suppliers, but I figured with the just-starting-out, I’d go with what all the other kids do and get my two tablespoons of yogurt up to room temperature.
Step 1 involved no ingredients. Instead, I filled my Dutch oven with filtered water and boiled it for 20 minutes with the lid on to sterilize the pot. I also sterilized my thermometer and a spoon as well. I cannot stress the amount of warning that goes into keeping cheesemaking supplies sterile from all sites and books. I take warnings that help prevent food poisoning seriously. I also turned my oven to 200 degrees. This is because the manufacturer won’t let me put it on 100 due to food safety concerns. Sure, I like food safety, but I like having them on my terms.
This is yogurt making in a nutshell:
An explanation? Of course.
Milk is first brought to 180 degrees, slowly. I probably didn’t need to do this with all the pasteurization, but food poisoning and all. Then I needed to wait for the milk to fall down to 115 degrees. This takes time. About an hour. Once it’s down to temperature, I stirred in the yogurt and powdered milk until everything was smooth. And I turned off the oven.
Why? Well, it can’t get too hot in there, otherwise the good bacteria in the yogurt will die. So I covered my pot and placed it in the oven, letting a bit of the heat (but not too much) escape. And then we went to bed, knowing the morning would either greet me with yogurt or spoiled milk.
8 hours later, I had an oven just under 100 degrees and a pot that felt promising. When I opened the pot, I had a nice firm yogurt with a separated whey floating on top. After draining out the whey through a strainer, I moved the yogurt to a clean container and enjoyed it. It is, after all, yogurt.