Science Experiment

My from-scratch skill set continues to grow, which makes my heart go pitter pat. I make my new favorite homemade food nearly every weekend, and it brightens up my breakfasts throughout the week. It’s yogurt!

I was already eating yogurt two times a week, but since my favorite kind is the Greek style, it can be a costly habit. Strangely enough, it wasn’t my frugal side that prompted my first attempt in this arena. It was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, where I learned that manufacturers add things to make “Greek” yogurt instead of using traditional methods.

When I was researching the process, it sounded easy enough: heat milk to 180° F, cool to 110° F, and add the starter – either from another batch or from a package.

Yogurt Starter

That is when the science happens. The starter is the desired bacteria. All the bad kinds were killed off during the heating, and the starter’s variety colonizes the milk quickly, preventing any of the bad guys from returning.

The hard part, and the part that initially gave me pause, is that the milk has to stay at around 110° F for four to six hours so the bacteria can culture. Too hot, the bacteria die; too cold and they fall asleep. I was trying to figure out how to maintain this temperature range when DH2U suggested we use his jerry-rigged sous vide machine.

For those of you that don’t know, which would have been me a year ago, sous vide is a method of slow cooking meats at a low temperature over a long period of time that creates an incredibly tender result. The machines are several hundred dollars. DH2U being so handy, used The Googles and added a thermometer to our crockpot to do the same thing.

Homemade Incubator

So now my heated and cooled and bacteria-laden milk goes into the incubator and a few hours later, yogurt is born.

Yogurt

To create Greek yogurt, the completed yogurt is then strained in cheese cloth to remove the whey. The end result is 1/3 to 1/2 the original starting quantity.

Greek Yogurt Finished Product

While financially it is easy to understand why processors add gelatin or dried milk to thicken it instead, the real thing tastes so much better!

What is your favorite from scratch food? or Does anyone else repurpose their household appliances?

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