August 5, 2011 by Leah
Since writing this very popular post, I’ve changed my yogurt-making methodology substantially. First, I started having some trouble with glass jars breaking due to rapidly changing temperatures. Then my thermometer bit the dust. Now, when I want to make yogurt, I dump half a gallon of milk in a pot, heat it until I hear it boiling over, mutter (or yell, depending on how far away I am), “oh sh*%,” and turn off the burner. Then I wait (sometimes this takes a couple of hours) for the milk to cool to “rather warm” as sampled by my “asbestos fingers” (by which I mean they can stand a lot of heat), stir in some yogurt, pour the warm milk with yogurt into two glass jars, cap them, and set them in a cooler for 12-24 hours.
The differences here are myriad. I don’t measure anything. There’s no wasted water. Since the methodology isn’t exact, there’s a higher potential for error (perhaps we should call it “uniqueness”) among yogurt batches. Also, the GAPS diet called for yogurt to be fermented for at least 24 hours in order for all the dairy proteins to be fully “pre-digested,” so I got used to doing that. (This makes yogurt easier to digest for people with any kind of dairy intolerance issues.)
If you’re just starting out, I would suggest a more scientific method of making yogurt, at least the first couple of times. I recently tried to make mozzarella without a thermometer, and failed miserably. Two previous experiences making mozzarella weren’t enough to prepare me for such a brazen attempt at dairying.
Since I’m on the subject, I’ll mention that I’m reading “Milk: A Local and Global History,” and it is fascinating. I like all these books that are coming out that trace the history of one kind of product in our society (Sugar: A Bittersweet History; Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World; etc.), and Milk is no exception. (It was actually on my secret Amazon list and then a friend sent it to me for my birthday, completely independently!) If you’re as devoted to dairy foods as I am, and yet think it ever so slightly odd that there’s an industry devoted to feeding us the food meant for baby cows (like I do), definitely check out this book.