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Apr 16, 2008 08:04 PM

Making Yogurt

I just received a second hand West Bend 1 Liter Fresh Yogurt Maker.

It didn't come with an instruction or recipe booklet, and I was wondering if anyone knew of a basic yogurt recipe for use in such a machine.

I've read several recipes on line, and they all require that you heat up the milk. I kinda figure that the point of a yogurt maker is that I won't have to heat anything. Well, that's my hope anyway.

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  1. I am unfamiliar with yogurt makers but familiar with yogurt making. To make yogurt the milk needs to come up to a low simmer like 190* F then allowed to cool to around 120-130* before the addition of the culture then kept warm for 6-8 hrs to allow the culture to grow and the yogurt to set. I would guess the yogurt maker is really a device to keep the culture warm for the extended period so you may have to first bring the milk up to temp to scald before utilizing the "maker" to hold the yogurt for the designated time.

    1. We have a Girmi yogurt marker which can take unheated milk (straight out of the fridge) mixed really well with cultures in powdered or already-made yogurt form. It handles the temperature changes for you, so you don't have to do anything at all- yours may or may not be the same (any idea at all of how old it is?). When I start a new batch, I use 6 tablespoons of thick Greek yogurt for every quart of milk. With cold milk, I give it 10-12 hours in the yogurt maker and 24 hours in the fridge to thicken up before consuming. You can then reuse your own yogurt as starter 10-15 more times before you want to start fresh with new purchased starter.

      1. You can always make yogurt without heating the milk first (or rather, only heating it to the incubation temp), but you run the risk of competing bacteria in the milk taking over. I usually heat it up and make 5 quarts at a time (we go through a lot of yogurt - thanks to Chowhound for reducing our cost by teaching me how to make it!). Since I am making so much, I don't want it to go to waste and don't take chances, but I know others don't heat.

        8 Replies
        1. re: jsaimd

          Could you explain about the competing bacteria taking over? I have been wondering about the purpose of the initial heating of the milk and wondered exactly dire consequences might lie in wait if I skipped it.

          1. re: WCchopper

            The initial heating helps to kill off most the bacteria that may be present in the milk. It's best to bring it up to temp and let it sit there for a few minutes or so just under the boil. You add your culture when the milk is below 140. Remember the 40-140 food safety rule. The temperature range where you get the most bacteria growing. Now the Lactobacillus acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophilus culture that you just added will be able to grow without competition and unwanted bacteria and yeasts that can sour the milk in more unpleasant ways.

            1. re: scubadoo97

              Does the pasteurization not accomplish that already? Killing the competing bacteria in the milk?

              1. re: WCchopper

                That is why you probably don't need to heat it, but it is extra insurance. Bacteria is everywhere so it can get in there.

                1. re: WCchopper

                  No- you're thinking of sterilization. I will copy and paste from wiki, because it's easier than writing it all out:

                  "pasteurization is not intended to kill all micro-organisms (pathogenic) in the food or liquid. Instead, pasteurisation aims to achieve a "logarithmic reduction" in the number of viable organisms, reducing their number so they are unlikely to cause disease (assuming the pasteurized product is refrigerated and consumed before its expiration date). Commercial-scale sterilization of food is not common because it adversely affects the taste and quality of the product."

                  1. re: sfumato

                    So when we simmer the milk, we sterilize it?

                  2. re: WCchopper

                    if there were no bacteria in the milk then it wouldn't sour after a week in the fridge.

              2. re: jsaimd

                Our yogurt maker instructions specifically say NOT to preheat the milk, so I wonder if it fluctuates the temp to mimic the heating you'd do on the stove.

              3. I make yogurt constantly, in the microwave, in five liter batches, without pre-heating the milk. I use UHT one-liter boxes plus powdered milk plus some water, plus a touch of sugar. Never a problem. The recipe is posted on the CH readers' recipes section.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Sam I made my current batch with non fat powdered milk which was added to a 1/2 gal of 2%. As you indicated it was very thick like Greek style without straining. I had never used the powdered milk before but this made me a believer.

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    Glad you tried it and liked it. People here have to try the stuff before they're convinced.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      How much powdered milk do you use for, say, a quart of milk? Or do you just eyeball it?

                      1. re: sfumato

                        Eighty grams per liter (I use 400 grams for five liters of yogurt of which four liters are milk, maybe a cup of starter, and the powdered milk. The volume left over is water).

                2. Here's the manual:

                  I tested the one I got at GoodWill yesterday for $1.50. I filled a quart glass jar with room temp water and placed it inside the unit. I like to make yogurt in glass; not the plastic liter jar that came with it. I checked the water temp this morning. It's just about 100 degrees. A little less warm than I like, but it might still work. I've been using my food dehydrator to make yogurt from raw milk. The dehydrator has a yogurt setting at 115 degrees, though I never tested the temp in the same way before. I will tomorrow and will try making batches in each and see how it comes out. In case anyone is still interested, yogurt is quite runny with raw milk. I heat my raw milk up to 140 degrees, then let it cool in a water bath pot till it reaches 115, then add the last batch starter, mixed with a tablespoon or so of fresh live whole milk Bulgarian yogurt. I strain the finished yogurt in a yogurt strainer, to get the highest quality thick creamy greek style. If it sits in the strainer for a few days, it can become like cream cheese consistency. Yum!