I make my yogurt in glass jars that I put in a plastic cooler for about 8-12 hours. After 4 hours, I add hot water (not boiling hot) from the tap to the cooler so the jars sit in about 2 inches of hot water. Whenever I come across a batch that looks gooey and slimy, I add the hot water and give the bacteria another 4 hours to do the job. That works well for me.
I experimented with making yogurt without heating the milk. I think the yogurt did not quite come together.
I do not use powdered milk in my yogurt because I have read that it contains exceptionally high level of oxysterols (oxidized cholesterol), which may be atherogenic and carcinogenic. I also do not want to use a highly processed food item if I don't have to.
As the saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat. I have tried to make homemade yogurt in a variety of ways and have figured out a few things. My goal has been to keep things simple - simple tools, simple ingredients. I figure, after all, people have been making yogurts forever without the benefit of modern ingredients and tools.
1. If you use milk only (i.e. no powdered milk), you have to heat the milk up to about 180F. Otherwise, the yogurt will not set.
Mlik and the culture/starter is the absolute ingredients you need. Everything else is optional.
2. You can heat (or warm) the milk in the microwave or the stovetop, depending on what is convenient for you.
3. The milk has to be about 110 F when you add in the yogurt culture. A higher heat tends to kill the bacteria.
You can make any amount you want. I sometimes make a jar (2 pints), sometimes 4. Add about 1 teaspoon into each 8 oz of milk and it would work.
4. There is no need to keep the yogurt at absolutely 110F throughout the 8-14 hours incubation time. I have used a warm-ish oven, a cooler into which I pour into water about 150F. Sometimes, the yogurt has got cold after 8 hours of incubation. I just warm up the oven to 170F and stick the jars back in and in a couple of hours, the yogurt is set.
5. When you have a fresh batch of yogurt, take some off to be used for the next batch. You can put the yogurt in the freezer if you don't make yogurt all the time. When you are ready to use it, just take it out when you start to heat the milk.
I start with yogurt from different brands (even flavored yogurts work as a starter). I figure the varioius strands of bacteria will each give me different benefits. ; - )
Is Le Chat Noir in Friendship Heights a good place for the Breton style galette? That's the only place in the DC area that I can find that serves this dish. Are there other places that anyone would recommend? Tx.
tad0900: I really appreciate the info about the authentic ChinKiang vinegar. I have not been able to find the real stuff for a while and have bought a couple of the "counterfeits". I had reconciled myself to using a substitute (but there is really no substitute for the unique taste of that classic vinegar which I grew up on in Hong Kong). Now I will definitely go to Kam Sam and hope to get a real bottle of the CK vinegar. Thank you! Rosalia
You can make yogurt without a yogurt maker. I started with one and gave that away soon. I make all the yogurt my husband and I eat.
The advantage to making yogurt without a yogurt maker is the flexibility in the amount you make in one batch.
The equipment that I find indispensable is a thermometer if you don't already have one. All the other equipment I use in making my yogurt are stuff that I can find in my house so I don't have to buy more stuff. (I have the impression you think along the same line.)
I tried a powder yogurt starter that I got from a health food store once. It does not taste any different from yogurt I make using a plain flavor commercial yogurt.
I bought a Greek yogurt, a Icelandic skyr and a Stoneyfield yogurt to start 3 separate batches of yogurt to compare. The tastes were slightly different but not different enough for me. Each time I make a batch of yogurt, I take off about 4 tablespoons and put them in a glass jar which I leave in the freezer. This is the starter I use when I make the next batch of yogurt. This frozen starter stays good in the freezer for months. The starter I have now have yogurt from Greece, Iceland and New Hampshire all mixed together. I figure whatever benefits each strain of the bacteria are supposed to bestow, I have them in my homemade yogurt.
Just about all commercial yogurts need some thickeners to help the product withstand the transportation. I personally would rather do without them. Overall, I would say my homemade yogurt does not taste that much better than the commercial products. The Greek yogurt I bought has been strained and has a very nice texture. It's also 3 times the price of "normal" yogurt. You can do that yourself but you only get about 1/3 of the volume after the liquid is strained out and it's quite a bit of work. Similar situation with the Icelandic skyr.
If you have the time, I recommend making yogurt at home. Once you have the process worked out for your own situation, it really takes little work.
I hope this is helpful. Rosalia