Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Homemade Yogurt (using yogurt maker)

We may live in a western country but my kitchen is very much an Indian kitchen. For the few years that I have been running my household, it is probably about three times that I have ran out of this commodity - yogurt. It is so important in my house that I stock a full rack of it in the fridge. Yogurt is not particularly cheap, especially good quality one. So one day we decided we should give making yogurt at home a try. We did it for sometime in insulated boxes (hot box) and also in ceramic dishes which I would keep in the oven at low heat. These worked ok but not consistently. We gave up at that point and revisited this later and decided to buy yogurt maker. It was about £20 so even if I made yogurt 20 times without buying 20 boxes of yogurt, we would have recovered the money spent. The math was quite simple so we went ahead and bought it from Lakeland. Later we bought a few extra containers so we did not have to wait to empty the container to make the next batch.

I have had success with it from day one but that did not stop me from trying various methods of making yogurt so we could replicate the same texture, taste and consistency that my mom used to achieve. Here are some of the ways I tried:
1. I added a couple of spoons of milk powder to increase the protein content so we could get thicker yogurt. Result was good but we did not want to continue this as it meant we added a processed ingredient i.e. milk powder
2. added a couple of spoons of sugar and set the yogurt. It worked well and was consistent. However, some felt it was a bit sweet. The extra sugar gives more food for the bacteria that eventually makes the curd.
3. Added salt and some sugar and set the yogurt. Again, this worked well but wanted to see if the salt and sugar could be avoided.

After all this, here are some simple steps:
1. Take a litre of milk (I use whole milk) in a heavy bottom pan and heat it. You want to heat slowly and until the milk rises up like a balloon
2. Cool this to nearly room temperature. I just leave it on the counter to cool. Then pour into the yogurt maker container. If the milk is still warm, it will kill the bacteria so you will not get good yogurt.
3. Add about three spoonful of good yogurt. I keep a pot of greek yogurt from the supermarket which I use as the starter. Stir well and put the container into the yogurt maker and turn it on. You could use the clock on the yogurt maker if it has one but it does not stop automatically. I usually leave it overnight or through the day depending on when I kickstart.
4. I take it out of the yogurt maker and leave it out for further time. About 24 hours after I start the process, I would put it in the fridge. You could use it straight away after the 8 hours that it typically takes to set in the yogurt maker but I found the texture improves if I leave it out a bit further.

It is normal for some whey water to get collected on top of the yogurt. It is perfectly ok to consume this. I must say some brands of milk set better than some others. So I would suggest you try a few brands that you get so you can find what works best wherever you live.

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