The Holy Grail
NYC doesn't recycle yogurt containers anymore. This is pretty outrageous in my opinion, and every week, when I chuck the empty quart sized container in the trash, I cringe. I know I could reuse the containers etc etc, but that only goes so far. I mean how many yogurt containers can you reasonably use? Or store in a NY apartment?
Yogurt making seems pretty easy. I've read many different recipes, using a crockpot, the oven, a yogurt maker, but I decided to try Dr. David Fankhauser's method. He is a professor of biology and chemistry, and gives a detailed, illustrated description of the process, with a handy step by step chart. I used his recipe for ginger ale a few years ago, and was impressed by his method. I felt confident that I would be successful with his recipe.
So I made a 1/2 gallon batch and it was a success! I have two quarts plus one cup of gorgeous yogurt in the fridge. I used our favorite brand of locally produced, crunchy granola, sandal wearing, hippie commune yogurt for starter. I used our favorite brand of milk (see above).
The most daunting part of the process was sterilizing the jars. I used Dr. Fankhauser's steaming method. It was easy. I used my pasta pot. It was tall enough for the jars and the insert made things easier to manage.
PLEASE NOTE: this is my shorthand version of the process. I recommend that you go to Dr. David Fankhauser's page for the complete process.
Place jars, lids, and funnel into the pasta pot (with insert). Add water to the bottom of the jars, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, turn off heat and let stand.
Meanwhile, heat 1/2 gallon of milk in the large pot, using a flame tamer to prevent scorching. Bring milk to 195 degrees. While you are waiting for the milk to boil, fill your sink with cold water, enough to reach halfway up your milk pot. When the milk reaches temperature, cover and place the pot in the sink. At this point, uncover the pasta pot, and remove the insert.
Scalding the milk. Note the candy thermometer clipped to the pot, and the flame tamer between the pot and the grate to prevent scorching and boiling over.
Let the milk cool to 130 degrees. Place 1/2 c milk in the pyrex cup, and add enough yogurt to make 3/4 cup. Stir with the whisk to make a slurry, then add it to the milk pot, stirring well.
Pour the milk into the canning jars using the funnel. Put on the lids. Check the water temperature from the steaming pot. When it reaches around 130 degrees, pour it into the cooler. Place the jars in the cooler and cover. Let rest for 3 hours.
I forgot to take a picture right away, so what you see is what is left after two days of lassi for breakfast. I also have 1 half pint jar of yogurt in the back of the fridge to use as a starter for my next batch.
Voila! Trash free yogurt. It has the same texture as the starter yogurt: a bit lumpy with a substantial amount of whey. The picture below is very dark, but it show the texture. It looks kind of like cottage cheese, but the texture is smooth and soft. If you want a smoother looking texture, whisking will help.
Sweet Lassi (2 servings)
1 1/2 C yogurt
About 1 1/2 C fruit
2 T maple syrup or honey
Optional: 2 T milled flax seed
Whiz in the blender. Use frozen fruit or add ice cubes if desired.
Salty Lassi (2 servings)
2 C yogurt
pinch of salt
pinch of cumin
Whiz in the blender. Optional: toss in a cucumber.
The Dish Bitch
Pasta pot with insert
2 quart sized canning jars with lids
1 half pint canning jar with lid
Large, heavy bottomed pot
glass measuring cup
cooler (one that can hold a six pack)