Discovery of the day: Another MIM success!

I am pleased to announce that I successfully made a batch of yogurt last weekend that came out (almost) exactly the way I wanted.

All it took was a quart of whole milk, one-third cup of dry milk powder, half a cup of yogurt (the starter), a small cooler, some hot water, and about eight hours. Oh yeah, a pot and a stove, too. And a thermometer.

(Do I need to mention the spatula, small bowl, and tiny whisk? Probably not? OK, then, let's get on with it already!)

I read a bunch of different recommendations for amount of powdered milk and starter, but decided in the end to follow the proportions given here. I'm not a stickler for organic, but I did have some Nancy's organic yogurt that I'd bought because it had, like, six different types of cultures. And more has to be better, right?

(Now that I've written 'six', I am doubting my memory. I feel compelled to double-check the carton tonight.)

I heated the milk in the pan on the stove to 170 deg., stirred in the dry milk, then set the pan in cool water until the temp of the milk hit about 110 deg. I took a cup or so of the milk and whisked it into the starter in a small bowl, then poured that back into the pan.

As for my container, I had a clean, one quart peanut butter jar that I'd run through the dishwasher then filled with boiling water (sanitized for your protection). While the milk was cooling I dumped the water out of the jar and let it air dry for a bit.

I poured the milk into the jar, but a quart plus half a cup equals more than a quart so I had a little left over, which I dumped, reluctantly. The jar was capped and placed in my 9 quart cooler. I poured hot water (120 deg) into the cooler until the water level was an inch or two below the level of the milk in the jar.

Then I let it sit. I worried about whether the temp would drop below 104 deg., so I found a small two-piece indoor/outdoor thermometer I had around, one where the outside component relays the temperature to the inside display. I put the outside component in one of my long plastic bread bags, dropped it in the cooler, draped the open end of the bag over the side and shut the lid on it. Then I carried the readout component around with me for the rest of the day.

Overkill, much?

The temp wasn't 100% accurate since the outdoor component floated on the surface, but it gave me an idea of when the temp had dropped too much. I probably went way overboard pulling out a portion of the water and reheating it, but I wanted to be sure it stayed warm enough.

Apparently it did, because when I pulled it out eight hours later, I had a beautiful, firm clump of yogurt. The only thing that bugs me is that it's a little more tart than I hoped, but I know that's related to the long incubation time.

Next time, I'll find my probe thermometer and track the water temp instead of the air temp. I'll also pull the yogurt out after six hours and see if it's firm enough.

I've been toying with trying to find a yogurt maker but the one I want (Salton YM9) apparently is no longer made, and other makes seem to run about $50. Thanks, but for $50, I'll stick with my homemade rig.

Yay, yogurt! Now that I've got it figured out, I'll be making it regularly.

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