Milkmaidens UNITE ! A Yogurt Making Experiment

15 07 2011

So I have been reading this blog “The girls guide to Guns and Butter“. She lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband and kids and I like the whole idea of “if you can’t grow it, you mine it”. Her handy breakdown of crock pot yogurt had me so intrigued that I decided to give it a whirl this weekend.

I was giddy with excitement as this process made me think of that PBS show where historians worked a Victorian farm in the back 40 of England. I was partially fascinated with the women who got to be the Milkmaid. I love cheese, Ken loves-loves cheese and I think it would be quite something to be able to make cheese. Yogurt seemed like a good baby step in the world of rennet and cheesemaking. I was stoked !
Ken indulges me with all these crazy kitchen experiments. He happily goes out and pays for the quarts of organic milk or any other crazy ingredient as he knows it will keep me out of his hair for hours as I tinker in the kitchen with all my ingredients. A Win-Win for him really.


courtesy of a Girls Guide to Guns and Butter

2 quarts of whole organic milk, not an ultra pasteurized one or this wont work.**I used Harmony Farms, unhomogenized but pasterized in the glass bottle (HOLY DELICIOUS)
Crock pot
Digital thermometer
2 tablespoons of PLAIN yogurt (anything with active cultures in it, check the back.. i used the PC greek
lots of time – a great weekend recipe !

Grab crock pot and pour milk into it. You could EASILY half this recipe if you wanted, so one bottle of milk instead of two (I will do this next time). Set the crock pot on low, pop in the digital thermometer and bugger off for 2.5 hours or so and do something else. This is a perfect thing to have going on a puttering-around-the-house day.

So for my crock pot it took almost 4 hours to get to the magic temperature, which was 180 degrees. As you can see I am almost there. I used the low setting on my crock pot, and maybe using the high would get you there faster. Ideally this part of the recipe is about scalding the milk so rationally how fast you get to 180 should be irrelevant. I will play with it.

Once you hit the magic number of 180 degrees, turn off the crock pot, pop off the lid and let it cool keeping the thermometer in. This is VERY important. The other MAGIC number in all of this is 110 degrees. You need the milk to cool down to 110 degrees before you add your cultures and let them “flourish”. Too hot and you’ll kill the cultures and you wont get lovely yogurt. So right before you hit the magic 110, skim off the top of the milk. You get a milk crust and removing it makes stirring things into it easier.

Grab a glass container, your whisk and your yogurt culture and get ready ! When 110 degrees hits scoop out 1 cup of scalded-cooled milk, add 2 tbsp of yogurt, stir with the whisk and pour the entire thing back into the crock pot.

Whisk to make sure the cultures are evenly distributed throughout the crock pot.

Now to make the cultures happy ! This is where I was a bit concerned on whether this whole thing was going to work. So far so good, but now putting it into the oven, lid on, towels on top to insulate and just putting the oven light on ? That is all the heat it needs ? I was shocked at how toasty the oven was the next day from just leaving a lightbulb on. Ken said it was like using an “easy bake oven”.. he was right.

The crock pot liner remained in the oven for 8 hours-overnight. I popped out of bed the next morning and rushed to see what had happened. This was like a science experiment ! I opened the oven, which was nice and warm but not hot enough for anything to ignite (like my tea towels). I scooped out a spoonful and because it was firm I knew we had instant success !! IT TASTES AMAZING ! Not really sour, like yogurt that has been sitting too long, but rich and creamy.

I segregated some yogurt and popped it into the fridge for eating for the week, and the rest I decided to make “yogurt cheese” and strain it a bit to make a tzatziki. (essentially fresh garlic and grated cucumber) So I took a cheese cloth out, and poured 2/3rd of the yogurt into the cheese cloth and let it drain for an hour or two.. mixing the yogurt around on occasion.

VOILA ! Thick, deliciously sinful yogurt ‘cheese”. Ken said it was the best tzatziki he has ever had.




2 responses

18 07 2011

This is a great idea! I’m going to try this! I’ve made yogurt in the past using Martha Stewart’s instructions but this is much less fussy (of course!) One thing no one mentions though–when storing I think it might be a good idea to sterilize your jars. I had a whole batch go kinda psychedelic on me once. The jars had been washed but not sterilized. Thankfully I noticed the swirls of strange colours before we ate any of it, but it was a terrible waste.

Oh and I have made yogurt with regular ole pasturized skim milk from the regular grocery store. Probably wasn’t as yummy as this, but it did yougurt-ize quite nicely.

18 07 2011

Hi Tina ! Thanks for your comments. Regular milk does work.. you just have to be careful of the “fine filtered-ultra pasteurized” stuff. Pasteurized is totally fine and will work.
Good point about storage.. we stored ours in a nice glass clean bowl. It didnt sit around very long, maybe four days before it was consumed. It was incredible and so so good.

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