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Making yogurt [split from General Topics]

Making yogurt comes up often; and I make enough in the microwave for my daughter and me to consume a half liter a day. So I have a CH saved reply:

I make 3.5 liters at a time in five 0.7 liter containers. All five fit in the MW at once. I start with two liters of whole milk, add 400 grams of whole milk powder and a TBSP of brown sugar, whisk very well, add a cup of yogurt from the last batch, add water to reach 3.5 liters, whisk a bit again, distribute in the five containers, place in the MW and zap on high for about three minutes and then for about a minute every hour and a half to two hours. Nothing exact, just keep it all warmer than body temp for 12 hours. The radiator will do the same job. Very thick and tart! No boiling.

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    1. Just to be different.

      I start with two Canadian bags of 3.25 homogenised, pasturised, cauterised milk. (ie 2/3 of a nominal gallon).

      I heat it to 180-185F and hold it there for 10 mins whisking it occasionally to prevent both a skin and a layer of milky, gunky stuff on the bottom. I use an oven thermometer. Supposedly this does stuff to the proteins although Sam thinks it is entirely unnecessary.

      Then let it cool down to 110 or so. Add two table spoons of old yoghurt as a starter. If you dump the starter in the hot milk it will kill it. This fits into three mason jars that have passed through the dishwasher, including the lids.

      This then rests for 24 hours in a warm place. For me that is on top of my uninteruptable power supply. Transfer to fridge and / or strain to make labneh.

      Every few months I buy some live store yoghurt (Astra) to re-start my cultures. The thinking behind this (even if it is deluded) is that different bacteria participate in the production of yoghurt, and these organisms thrive at different levels of acidity. After a period of time the bacillus that prefers the acidic environment begins to dominate.

      I believe (large) yoghurt companies do not use previous yoghurt batches as a starter, but breed specific bacterial varieties separate from each other and add these to the tanks. They also maintain a much more sterile environment than the top of my UPS. I will verify this with someone I know at Yoplait.

      1. I am curious.. I have been making yogurt for a little while and between 4 of us we finish it so quickly that I am remaking every two days. So far I have found that i can only reuse the yogurt I made for about 5-6 batches of 1 lt and then the yogurt is not as tart any more, but still thick. how do you tell it is time to use a fresh starter from store bought yogurt or yogurt starter? A few months of reusing the home made yogurt as starter would be great.
        Just like Paulustrious I follow the same process but use a glass yogurt maker that was given to me and leave it for 9 hrs over night then into the fridge. great to wake up to it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: fiforfood

          I have used the same starter over and over for a couple of years. But I just use 2% or whole milk in my yogurt. I don't add powdered milk, sugar, etc. Maybe substances other than fluid milk are doing something to your starter? I heat the milk up to 180-F in the microwave and allow it to cool right away to 105-F before adding starter. I make 1 qt at a time and save 1/4 cup as starter for the next batch. The starter is stored in the fridge. I make yogurt about 3 times a week. I use a Salton Yogurt maker and allow the yogurt to incubate 12 hours. My original starter was a mixture of Trader Joes plain French yogurt and Activia.

          1. re: fiforfood

            In that case I would reserve a complete litre to act as my starter and use it till it empties.

            Why do you only make 1 litre at a time - is that the maximum the yoghurt maker can manage? If so, I would dump it in favour of some other warm spot that can mane a gallon a go. In a previous house I used to put it on top of the freezer where the heat from the pump / condenser used to keep the temp around 80. A bit cool, but a little more time fermenting solves that problem.

            1. re: fiforfood

              My yogurt gets more tart with successive batches. After 4-5 batches I buy yogurt for starter.

            2. Thank you very much Sam, I will try it! Up here in chilly MA the radiator is an appealing way to make yogurt (I for one greatly appreciate beautiful snowy days).

              I'm now a Big picklle fan following your encouragment BTW re:Japanese pickles, thanks.

              5 Replies
              1. re: steinpilz

                Pickles - that is nice to hear. Thank you.

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Where is this pickle thread? I may have missed it.

                  1. re: Paulustrious

                    I don't think there was one. I probably mentioned how to make quick Japanese pickles/salads somewhere - something I do often with eggplant; cucumbers; carrots & daikon; ...

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      I think we were discussing susihi or a local Japanese market here in Boston, your mention that you miss the prepared pickles got me interested and now I'm a fan (if you wanted to further discuss the different veggies and flavours used I certainly wouldn't discourage this!) .