Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Blogging from A to z: Y is for Yogurt (and yogurt maker)

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

is for Yogurt,
the kind that's homemade,
flavored with vanilla and honey,
and a high price is not paid
because I make it myself
in my oven with a lamp
that keeps it at 100.
P.S. you don't need the clamp.

(here is a picture of my latest innovation: a super cheap yogurt maker that really works)

I have made and enjoyed my honey vanilla yogurt for years. Until recently, when we moved from our old home, I had the luxury of an oven that could have its temperature set down to 100 degrees (it had a drying feature). However most ovens only go down as far as 170 degrees. I think it has to do with liability or something like that, for that is the temperature that kills most bacteria. When I went shopping for ovens for my new home, I tried to find a set of double ovens that went down to 100 degrees. I couldn't find one--at least not in my budget.

My husband bought me an expensive Cuisinart yogurt maker to take the place of my old oven. I used it a few times, but I was disappointed in it for a variety of reasons. First of all, I could never get the yogurt to come out as firm as the batches I made in my old oven. Secondly, the yogurt was not consistent in its consistency. There were spots that were somewhat hard, almost like they were overcooked right next to the heating element. Thirdly, I was restricted in the amount I could make. It only made a quart at a time. I went through that much too quickly. I usually always made two quarts at a time. Plus, there were times when I made a gallon at a time when I was taking my yogurt to share at a writers retreat. Once I made gallons for a friend's daughter's wedding reception.

So I started brain storming. I wanted to make myself a yogurt oven. I concocted in my head, some sort of insulated box I could form into an oven with some sort of heating element. Then it dawned on me: why not just use my existing oven and create some sort of heating element that I insert inside. I can just run the cord outside the oven and plug it into the wall. It wouldn't hurt the cord because it only needs to heat up to 100 degrees. One day a light went on--literally. I noticed a metal clamp light that I used in my sewing room. Why wouldn't that work. I remember from my childhood days, the old Easy Bake ovens used a standard light bulb to cook those little cakes.

So I used my oven, inserted my lamp that held a 75 watt bulb, and placed a thermometer in the oven and tried to make yogurt. I quickly found that the 75 watt bulb was too hot. I had to constantly watch my thermometer and unplug and replugged my lamp to keep the temperature consistent. Next I tried a 60 watt bulb. It was like a match made in heaven. It worked.

If you want to try this method of making yogurt, here's another tip I found that is helpful. I first turn my oven on for a minute or two, just to where it feels comfortably warm to my hand, and then turn it off. Then I place the thermometer inside. I let the temp fall a bit if it's above 100. If it's below, place the lamp inside and plug it in. The fact is, I try to get my oven at 100 degrees before I place the yogurt inside. I fiddle with this while my yogurt is cooling down to the right temperature.

Below I've included my recipe for my Honey Vanilla Yogurt from a previous post on this blog for your convenience.

It's healthy, tasty, and easy. You just need a candy thermometer, a good sauce pan, an oven that can maintain a temperature of 100 degrees, and the following ingredients:

8 cups of fresh milk
2/3 cup powdered milk
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (1/2 envelope)
2 scant teaspoon instant pectin

Mix together in a heavy sauce pan with a wire whisk.
Turn the burner to low-medium low and let the milk slowly rise in temperature up to 170 degrees, but DO NOT let the milk come to a boil. Stir occasionally to prevent a film sticking to the bottom of the pan.

When the milk mixture reaches 170, remove from heat and stir in:
3/4 to 1 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

When the mixture reaches a temperature between 112 and 108, add:
1/2 cup of yogurt starter. (Use plain or vanilla. You can reserve a 1/2 cup from your previous batch of yogurt).

Mix well with wire whisk. Strain and pour into containers. I like to use Pyrex bowls that come with lids, but I have found that used yogurt containers work, as long as they have snap on lids.

Put the lids on the containers and place in a pre-heated 100 degree oven for 8 to 10 hours. Turn off the heat and let remain in the oven for another 1 to 6 hours, depending on how strong you want the yogurt flavor.

Refrigerate and enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment