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April 29, 2009
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I don’t even eat that much yogurt. Yet somehow, most of my food is currently stored in large plastic yogurt tubs. In my freezer, I currently have tubs of chickpeas, lentil soup, and veggie scraps for making stock. In my cupboards, I’ve got tubs of coffee, brown sugar, corn meal, and probably a few other things. This makes it difficult to plan meals without opening multiple containers. It also makes it difficult to avoid putting ground coffee in your oatmeal when it’s early in the morning and I haven’t brewed any coffee yet.

Yogurt is so good for you that I would actually like to eat it more often, but the accumulation of plastic containers is giving me environmental angina. So a few nights ago, I finally sucked it up, channeled my homesteading spirit, and made my own yogurt.

I should mention that I have tried this before. I’m not sure what went wrong, but the experience left me with several scalded fingers and two jars of smelly, chunky milk. But after reading a recent article in the NYT about how simple it is to make yogurt, I knew I had to give it another go. So before I could change my mind, I ran to the grocery store and grabbed some organic milk and plain yogurt to use as a starter. The first thing that I did differently this time was heat the milk in a double boiler. Last time it took me days to scrub the burnt milk off the bottom of the single pot I used. I don’t have a thermometer, so I heated the milk until it just began to froth, sterilizing my jars and utensils in the meantime. After letting it cool for a bit, I stirred in a few spoonfuls of starter yogurt (twice as much as recommended, for good luck!) and poured the mixture into the waiting jars. This is the trickiest part for those of us too stubborn to buy thermometers because the milk needs to be warm enough for the bacteria to grow, but not so hot that it will kill them. So I crossed my fingers and double wrapped the jars in my tea cozy and insulated lunch bag and left them on the counter to incubate overnight.

The next morning, I cautiously peeked at the jars. Since the mixture hadn’t turned any strange colors overnight, I gave it the sniff test. It didn’t smell pleasant, but it did have the sour, slightly cheesy smell that is supposed to be a good sign. It was still really runny, though, so I stuck both jars in the fridge to set for a while. This didn’t do too much to change the texture, but my yogurt did pass the taste test! I enjoyed it for many breakfasts (mixed with reduced-packaging bagged cereal and thawed frozen blueberries) and was careful to save a small amount to start the next batch.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Hils permalink
    May 5, 2009 3:55 pm

    This is so fascinating, I am inspired to make my own yogurt

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