A 1 quart batch
1 cup starter yoghurt
4 cup "dairy medium" (See below)
3 quart pot
There are five critical aspects of making good yoghurt:
1) Eliminating, as a preliminary procedure, any possible
bacterial culture than can interefere with the culturing.
Heating the milk-medium to almost boiling, but steaming
and then cooling it accomplishes the destruction of competing
bacteria. It is called "scalding the milk". In the scalding
process, the milk/cream *must* be brought above 140°F.
You must be careful, however, *not* to let the milk boil;
getting the milk/cream to about 170°-180°F is good. Boiling
will cause some of the milk proteins to break down in such
a way as to cause the resulting yoghurt to loose its smoothness,
just as will happen to overheated chocolate.
The yoghurt will be sort of grainy - not what you want.
After chilling the yoghurt, an overheating of the milk will
also display a separation of a greenish slightly opaque
liquid in your finished yoghurt - a telltale sign that all has
not gone well.
2) Maintaining the proper ambient temperature of the developing
culture between 110° and 120° Farenheit. Few things or
places provide a stable and correct temperature as well as an
electric yoghurt maker. Anything greater than 120° will kill
the bacterial culture, yielding some unpalatable glop instead
of yoghurt. If the temperature is too low, it will leave
our Lactobacillus collection nonfunctional, and again,
glop is the result.
Salton happens to make a simple and inexpensive electrical
device that works very well. It makes a quart at a time.
3) Selecting the processing time to determine the sweet-tangy
property of the yoghurt: 8 hrs. for a smooth-sweet taste, to
12 hrs. for a tangy taste.
4) Selecting the culturing medium to determine the thickness
and richness of the yoghurt.
Any standard milk form will do, and any combination of
these will also work:
a) skimmed milk
b) 2% milk
c) regular "whole" milk
d) real "whole" milk (from the udder, so to speak)
e) nonfat dried milk (reconstituted if used alone)
Carnation is the best brand I know of for this.
f) evaporated milk
g) heavy cream
The richness will depend on the amount of butter fat; the
thickness will depend on the content of both butter fat and
of protein. Evaporated milk increases both.
If you use all heavy cream, you'll wind up with a wonderful
substance very much resembling sour cream, most like old
Breakstone's if you limit processing time to 8 hrs.
It will have an additional rich undertone, however.
Half and half (milk and heavy cream) makes a yoghurt that
goes very well with ripe fruits.
The lighter you go up the scale, the more delicate the
result; the more delicate the result, the more it will tend
to "weep", or discard and pool its own water content in
an acidic whey.
A nice thick yoghurt for those not into fat (although why,
I can't imagine :-) is a milk or skimmed milk with additional
nonfat dried milk. This increases the protein, without
increasing the fat content.
I haven't tried using condensed milk which is basically
evaporated milk plus sugar. Instinct says this is probably
not a good idea since any remnant of yeast will cause a
riot of fermentation - but ..., if you are careful in
the scalding. you should have a fairly clean bacterial
slate with which to start your bacterial culture of
Lactobacillus acidophilus and friends. These bacteria
(anærobic) make yogurt by gobbling up the milk sugar,
lactose (and others) and turn lactose into lactic acid.
This is why people with genetic lactose intolerance can
eat yoghurt with no problem.
The increasingly acidic environment curdles the milk
5) Selecting the bacteria of the culture, i.e. selecting
your starter culture; you can use a prior portion (about
one cup), a small container of a commercial yoghurt
and/or capsules of "acidophilus" (the essential bacterium
in question) available at drug stores and health food stores.
L. Acidophilus bacterium (liking an acidic environment)
comes in a variety of strains, and the preferred strain
for yoghurt is "acidophilus bulgaricus". Dannon happens
to contain this strain. You can also buy it explicitly
in drug stores. Commercially, the best cooking yoghurt
I've found is the brand Columbo, but I happen not to
remember whether it contains live bacteria (this is
essential) or whether the strain is bulgaricus. The best
all around commercial eating yoghurt is Continental.
Like many Eastern yoghurts, this is thickened by draining
off a good amount of its whey. You can do the same by
hanging yoghurt in a tied up sheet of muslin for several
hours. Several layers of culinary grade cheese cloth can
do the same thing.
Do pay attention to the sale date on any commercial yoghurt
that you may use as a starter; while the yoghurt may be
perfectly good to eat, it may have either developed a yeast
(fermenting bacterium), or the culture may be sufficiently
weakened so as not to produce a good yoghurt. It may also
have developed fungal spores. We are actually surrounded
with bacteria and fungal spores; they were here long before
Buy freshest yoghurt, and use it as your starter within a
day or two.
Similarly, if you intend to use a portion of your last batch
as a starter, don't let it linger in the fridge for a month,
although you might get away nicely with three weeks - or even
a month. A week, is a good rule of thumb.
0) Plug in the yoghurt maker, and put the cover on it, to heat
to the proper bacterial breeding temperature.
1) Heat the selected mixture (1 quart) in your preferred way
to the point where it is just about to boil; the transition
to actually boiling can happen very fast, so pay close
attention. If on a stove, stir continuously.
2) Remove from the heat immediately. You can either let the
mixture cool naturally or help it along with an ice or cold
water bath; it that last case, it will cool quickly (keep
stirring), so pay attention.
Use a candy thermometer. In time, with experience, the light
dipping of a clean finger into the cooling mixture will tell
you when the 110°-120° F temperature range has been reached,
if you do this often enough.
3) Now add your starter mixture, and mix thoroughly, not
violently, i.e., use a wisk, not an electric hand mixer.
If you mix too violently you can destroy the texture again,
for several long winded reasons that I won't elaborate on
here, except to say that it involves breaking protein
But, don't leave lumps; the object is to distribute the
living culture in the mixture.
4) Pour the mixture into the yogurt maker's container; put
its cover on; put the container into the preheated yoghurt
maker, and put its cover on.
5) Note the time and when your selected 8-12 hours is up.
6) Check at the appointed time; if the mixture is not geled,
either the culture was too weak or you didn't add enough of it.
You may be able rescue by letting the processing continue for
7) Assuming that you have a well solidified yoghurt, refrigerate
it immediately in the maker's container.
8) Not a bad idea is to purchase an additional container and
top, so that batches may overlap. For some people, buying
several of these might be helpful.
Yoghurt is one of the world's most versatile foods. It is used
ubiquitously in middle eastern and Greek cooking, as well as
Indian, Georgian and Mongolian cooking. Homemade, in this way
is far superior to what is available commercially, which often
contain pectin and gelatin (animal products) as thickeners.
Try an especially thick batch of homemade yoghurt with fresh
9) While Yoghurt is ubiquitous in Indian cuisine, they have
another way of making "curd", that goes to the heart of
this complicated biological process.
To make the "cheese" called Paneer. The milk mixture is
first scalded as for yoghurt, then an acid of sort is added:
lemon or lime juice, vinegar, citric acid, .... The curdling
is almost instantanious. Draining the curd of the whey by
muslin gives two culinary items. Notice, however, that the
lactose is not converted to lactic acid, so yoghurt and
paneer curds are quite different.
FURTHER REFERENCES AND MORE SPECIFICS:
Lactobacillus Acidophilus [Wikipedia]
Lactobacillus Delbrueckeii subsp. Bulgaricus [Wikipedia]
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Created: June 23, 2007
Last Updated: September 30, 2007
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