Friday, June 1, 2012

The Yogurt saga continues

In an effort to make a reliably good and thick yogurt, I've been using almost all my spare milk in yogurt experiments.

I wanted to try omitting the sugar this time.  I heated the fresh milk up to 190 degrees, cooled it to 110 degrees, dumped the starter (homemade runny yogurt) and a cup of powdered milk into the half-gallon jar, then put it into the oven to keep it warm. And that's where the trouble started.  I have no idea how it would have turned out as I made a fatal (for the yogurt, that is) error:

Jar was saved, but the lid melted to the top and
the yogurt turned into a cheese-like clumpy mess.
Because my oven is electric, it doesn't have that handy-dandy little pilot light. You know, that little feature that allowed your oven to be at the perfect temperature to keep things warm, or to say, incubate some yogurt.  In order to circumvent this little oven problem I have, I put the jar of yogurt in the oven, turned it on for about thirty seconds to warm it up, then turned it off.  Or at least I thought I turned it off.  I swear I did.  Really.

Paul comes up to me about fifteen minutes later and says, "I though you told me not to turn the oven on."  What?  Oh crap!  So I fling the oven door open, grab a pair of hot mitts and take my cooked yogurt out of the oven.  Another yogurt attempt down the drain.  Well, not exactly down the drain, but into the chicken bucket.

And you know what?  I did the exact same thing.  That same evening.  But this time I caught it before the oven temperature got too hot.  I don't know if I'm losing my mind or if I'm not pushing the "Stop" button on the oven hard enough.  This time I just used a half-gallon of still warm goat milk (instead of heating / cooling the milk beforehand), about a cup of homemade starter (runny yogurt) and a cup of powdered milk.  I left it in the oven overnight, for about twelve hours.  And when I opened the jar in the morning, it was like yogurt!!  Not thick yogurt by any means, and probably still a bit runnier than store bought, but by gawd, I finally did it!  

After it cooled down in the fridge for several hours, I strained it to get a really thick consistency.  Out of a half-gallon of milk, I come out with a quart of yogurt.  Not the best ratio in my opinion, but it's better than nothing and the chickens get the whey for breakfast.  

Although I'm happy about my successful batch of yogurt, I'm now wondering if it was just a fluke.  Throughout the whole yogurt making fiasco, I've been wondering if I'm not being clean enough.  I think I practice pretty good milking protocol, but there's always the thought in the back of my head that there is some sort of nasty bacteria or pathogen furiously breeding in my dairy products.  But I haven't died yet, so I suppose that's good, right?  Right.

I have a milk customer picking up her two gallons today, so I'll start my yogurt experimentation again with tonight's milk and try to duplicate my last effort in hopes of getting another quart of yogurt.

In the mean time, I've been finding things to do with all that runny yogurt.  Yummy things.  But you'll have to wait a day or so for that post!  


  1. Regardless of what yummy things you've been doing with your "runny" yogurt for human consumption, I'd say your chickens are probably thrilled with all the failed experiments they are getting!

    You sure do have a lot of stick-to-it-iveness! Admirable.

  2. If your oven has an electric bulb and you can turn it on even when the oven is off, then you have a reliable heat source for making yogurt... I have made yogurt that way many times. As far as being thick, the powered milk should really have done the trick, it has worked for me.

  3. It's interesting that goat milk is so much more problematic than cow milk. The only trouble I've run into is when my starter is weak. I'm with Mama Pea - your stick-to-it-iveness is awesome! Plus it makes for fun reading....

  4. I bought a crock pot at a yard sale that has a "warm" selection as well as the high and low. I make my yogurt(4 qts at a time)in it by just putting the jars in the crock pot on warm for overnight. It is a bit thinner thanthe store bought but goos stuff.....

  5. I'm sure you are being clean enough with your milking practices and I'm not sure that would affect the thickness of your yogurt anyway. I'm anxious to see if you get repeatability with the overnight warm oven method! :)

  6. OMG, this is a little funny. I think it may be much easier just to lower your expectations of yogurt ;) Embrace the runny.

  7. Mama Pea, the chickens have been getting an enormous amount of yogurt whey lately. I'm going to have to put them on Weight Watchers pretty soon.

    Linda, like most things around here, the oven light bulb is out of commission. I suppose this is the exact excuse I've been waiting for to replace it, hugh?

    Susan, I'm trying to find a local source for raw cow milk just to try and see if it makes a difference.....of if it's just me. Which is probably the case :)

    Tana Mc, I tried the crockpot before but mine gets too hot warm. Bummer, because it would be easy that way.

    Candy C., the warm oven worked just fine! Figures, 'cause I just spent $25 on a yogurt maker.

    Jane, as much as I hate to lower expectations for anything, I think I may have to agree with you on this one. I'm trying to embrace the runny by making other things out of it.