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Adventures in Yogurt Making

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This past winter I read Anne Mendelson’s book, Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk through the Ages.  Well-written and informative, it taught me a lot about the history, geography and chemistry of milk.  It also intensified my longing to have dairy goats, and to make cheese and yogurt.

Since our homeowners association expressly forbids the raising of livestock on our condo balcony, goats are out, for now.  But cheese and yogurt–now, those were possible.

I decided to start with yogurt, since it seemed a simpler process.  Mendelson’s method didn’t require any special equipment, and the yogurt-making blogosphere was full of stories about making yogurt in the oven, in a thermos, or even using a towel-covered bowl and a heating pad.  For my adventure into this uncharted territory, however, I wanted something I could depend on–an electric yogurt maker.

I chose the Eurocuisine YM100, and I’ve been happy with my choice.  From the start, I’ve been irrationally attached to its cute little glass jars.  Some of the other yogurt makers have plastic jars, and I am trying to use less plastic.  The machine has a timer that keeps the heating element on for the amount of time I choose.  One of the other models has a piercing beep when the yogurt is finished; mine simply shuts off.

My first batch of yogurt was a disaster.  I had purchased a glass candy thermometer to track the temperature of the milk.  When I was washing the thermometer, after the yogurt was safely ensconced in the jars, I discovered that the glass tip had broken.  I tried to rationalize for a while–It’s such a small piece of glass.  Surely I wouldn’t swallow it. And if I did, how much damage could it do?–before my truly rational sweetie convinced me that I needed to throw the batch away.  My new thermometer is metal.

I use whole milk from Matanuska Creamery for making yogurt.  From what I’ve read, whole milk produces a thicker yogurt.  All of the organic milk available in Alaska is ultra-pasteurized, and not a good option for making yogurt.

I love making homemade yogurt.  I add a spoonful of jam to one of the jars and stir.  The taste transports me back to what Dannon’s fruit-on-the-bottom tasted like in my childhood.

My next yogurt adventure is to convince Eurocuisine to make a straining device that works with my glass jars.  I want something that all seven jars screw into, something I can flip over and keep in the fridge during the draining process.  Hey, I figure that if I can make yogurt, I can do anything.  I can talk a nameless, faceless corporation into making my yogurt strainer!


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