Question About Making Homemade Yogurt
A friend of mine just gave me a container of active live yogurt cultures (i think)..It seems to have a large curd and definitely smells yogurt-y...any advice on how to turn this into homemade yogurt? For example, do I just add milk and wait a couple days?
I make yougurt in the microwave. Mix two liters of whole milk with a package of powdered milk, a tablespoon of brown sugar, the yogurt starter (I use a part of the previous batch or a container of plain unsweetened), and water to increase volume to a total of five liters. Four and a half minutes on high and then one minute and forty five seconds every hour and a half over 8-12 hours depending on the thickness you want.
I make yogurt every week. I start out with a gallon of organic non-fat milk, bring it to a scald on a low flame, transfer to a large bowl and bring to lukewarm, add my starter (1/2 cup of plain yogurt mixed with some of the lukewarm milk. Cover and keep in a warm place for 8 or so hours. I then refrigerate it until cold. Then I strain out the whey in a cloth covered colander for a day or so until it's as thick as cream cheese. I eat this with just about every meal. When I want something sweet, I put some in a bowl with raw rolled oats, walnuts and maple syrup. It's delicious!
What I do is put the starter, powdered milk and scalded milk into an uncovered plastic bowl on top of a cheap heating pad set to medium, and then I invert a large Polishware bowl over the whole thing, tilted slightly to keep it from creating condensation. The large bowl makes a sort of makeshift oven. I keep it there for about 10 hours, and then I put the yogurt in the fridge overnight. It's important that the yogurt remain uncovered in the fridge overnight, again to prevent condensation. (Obviously, you cover the yogurt after it's completely set.)
My next batch, I'm going to use Nestle Nido as the powdered milk for the first time: it's a powdered WHOLE milk that's popular in Latin America and South Asia, and it seems to me that a whole milk would be very useful in this process instead of the usual non-fat, particularly since I use 2% milk instead of whole in my yogurt.
Thanks to Sam's post a while back we now make yogurt every week too, but I do use a slightly different method. The one time I didn't scald the milk, I ended up with slimey, strange tasting yogurt, so now I am paranoid of having a competing strain.
I take a gallon of skim or 1% milk and add in a little less than 2 cups of non-fat powdered milk. I like 1%, my husband prefers skim. Kids don't care. Sometimes you need to dissolve the powdered milk in a smaller amount of the regular milk before adding it into the gallon. I put the gallon of milk in a big metal mixing bowl over a double boiler (just my stock pot). I use the double boiler because I work from home and have 2 kids running around and I don't have to watch it that closely. Heat to around 180, then cool (takes awhile to cool) to 115 degrees. I then put it in glass jars and add two tablespoons of yogurt to jars (from the last batch) I just like the form factor of the glass jars, but have done it in bigger containers too. Put them in the microwave and zap for 90 seconds every 2 hours or so. I incubate for about 8 hours. One tip - once you start the culture - do not stir! Put it in the fridge after it is finished without stirring and let it sit for 12 hours. Then enjoy!