Second week of August and our tomato plants are still holding off on turning ripe. We’ve been harvesting cherries and glaciers off the plants but all the big guys are just hanging out in their green skins refusing to show any signs of reddening. Thankfully we will have a high-tunnel up to cover them by the end of August so their season will be extended to hopefully make up for this late start. Everything else is moving along nicely. The rice is beginning to turn a golden brown, the carrots and beets are being enjoyed for dinner most nights, and the second planting of beans are starting to need picking. I’ve found my favorite bean to be the Maxibells, they are a long, thin green bean that to me have the most excellent of flavors, I have yet to see how they turn out frozen or dilly-ed but I will let you know the results.
I made my first goat yogurt on monday. I looked up how to make yogurt without a yogurt maker and found a variety of methods, water baths, warm sunlight, microwaves and crock-pots. I opted for the crock-pot since my mother has three or four of them stowed away under her kitchen sink, and I don’t have running hot-water, a microwave or enough warm sunlight to keep something warm for a length of time.
I started by heating the milk to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. I just heated mine right in the crock-pot. It took about half an hour to reach the temperature but since we have solar electricity it made more sense to use that than the propane stove. Once it reached temperature I had to cool it back down to 112. I wondered why I had to go through the trouble of heating and then cooling and learned that heating it to 185 makes the whey proteins denature and coagulate to enhance the viscosity and texture, in other-words thicker yogurt. When my milk was hot enough, I poured it into a stainless steal pot, covered it and set it on the cold floor of my kitchen to cool. Once we were back down to 112 it was time to add my culture.
I used a Y5 sweet yogurt culture from New England Cheese Making Supply. The culture came with easy and simple directions for rehydrating the culture in the 112 degree milk for two minutes before stirring and letting sit for another 6-8 hours. 112 is the temperature most comfortable for the bacteria in the culture to eat the milk sugars and ferment to make delicious tangy yogurt.
I poured the milk back into the crock-pot poured in the culture and let it rehydrate, then stirred it turned the crock-pot on low and waited. After about half an hour the crock-pot was nice and warm again so I turned it off unplugged it and placed it on a chair, wrapped in a dark shirt, in the full sunlight.
I continued to check it periodically through-out the day but the sun and the crock-pot were keeping the temperature right where it needed to be 110-112. I ended up leaving it in the crock-pot all night for a total of 18 hours, way longer than my simple directions told me. In the morning I opened my pot and peeked inside. It was most certainly ready. I lined a steamer with butter muslin and poured my yogurt into it.
It had a lovely creamy texture to it and when I scooped some up on my finger it had an amazingly sweet flavor aligned with tanginess familiar to yogurt. I added maple syrup and granola and had a delicious speedy breakfast. On my way out the door I placed the steamer in its pot, lidded it and placed it in the fridge. When I returned I found a whole new yogurt had formed. It was a thick strained yogurt as thick if not thicker than the greek yogurt so popular in stores these days. I immediately plunged my finger into the creamy mass and indulged in its dessert-like nature.
I would deem the crock-pot yogurt excellent. A bit tedious if you can’t be home to check it every hour or so, but fun and delicious.
Anyone have any other inventive ways of making yogurt? Anyone have yogurt makers that they really like? Anyone have a yogurt culture or brand of yogurt they find works best for making yogurt?