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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Making yogurt using a freeze dried starter culture

Well, it's been about 8 hours. The package said it would be set in 4, but I had my doubts and it wasn't. That's fine, generally working from plain yogurt for the culturing it can take 8-12 hours to set.
It's set up nicely, and it smells wonderful. I didn't follow the package instructions exactly because well.. generally I won't. So here's how I did it.

Yogurt using Yo'gourmet Freeze Dried Starter
7-8 cups of 1% milk
1/2 cup instant powdered milk
2 5 gm packets of the starter

Dissolve the powdered milk into the milk, and bring to a light boil, turn down heat and keep at a simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool to lukewarm. Pour a little bit of the lukewarm milk into a non-reactive container (glass or ceramic), I use a white ceramic casserole pan I can cover with a plate. Mix the starter into it and stir to get the lumps out and make sure it's dissolved. Pour in the rest of the milk and stir it up well.
While you're doing that, stop your sink and run very warm water in it. Just about "Nice hot shower" temp does nicely. When it's about 2 inches deep, turn off the water and put the yogurt container into it covered with a plate or lid if your container as a lid. Every so often during the day, stop and check your water temperature, if it's cool, take out the yogurt container without peeking or stirring, and refill the sink up to 2 inches with more warm water,then replace the yogurt container. After about 8 hours, check it by tilting the dish and seeing if it's runny or firm set. Firm set, it won't move but may have some whey on top. That can be poured off or stirred back in. Put it in the fridge.

I'm actually not sure how much milk I used. I just saw how much was left in the gallon in the fridge, and asked E if I should just use the rest. I used a measuring cup after to measure how much water to make it up to the milk line in the pan. 7 cups is a safe bet, it may be 8. I've used organic milk in the past, but it's one of those choice things, you know, those awful choices that people trying to buy ethically have to make? The local dairy gets most of their milk from local farmers, farmers who were about to go out of business when the last dairy closed. They are making a conscious effort to use a much higher amount of local milk then the last company did. Some of those farmers are certainly organic, some aren't. The focus they make is *local* and with our population base, there just isn't enough demand for a local produced organic milk for it to pay the farmers to switch. So.. we had to choose. Organic milk shipped in across nearly a country and a half or locally produced milk that wasn't completely organic and comes in plastic containers. We decided on supporting our local farmers. Which is more information then you needed, but there it is.
The freeze dried starter isn't pure cultures, it's cultures, vitamin C, skim milk powder and sucrose which is a simple sugar.
Going off the nutritional information on the packages and guesstimating because I didn't measure stuff out, you're looking at probably about 2 gms of sugar per 1 cup serving and somewhere around 125 calories. Which makes it a really healthy food since it will have calcium, vitamin D, C and A. If you use non-fat milk, it will have 20 calories less per serving.
We are going to flavor some chocolate and mix it with a blackberry puree and put it in ice pop molds as a summer treat for the kids. Some will wind up in smoothies which is the big reason I have to make a lot of yogurt, and I'm going to mix some with butter and see if I can come up with a buttery spread that will come out of the fridge soft enough to spread but have less fat and still taste good to my family.
All in all, I'm pretty happy with the freeze dried culture, and it's minimal packaging. I do recommend getting it from the net though for the best pricing.

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