30 April 2009
And the Results Are…
Instead of putting boiling water in the jars before pouring in the hot cultured milk, I got the tap as hot as it would go and used that. The yogurt in the jars thickened up in the same amount of time that the crockpot usually takes and the jars stayed warm under the towel.
This morning, after spending the night in the fridge, it was thick and wonderful. I think this technique is a winner.
Allison, I went through the grainy and thin yogurt stage and never really figured out why (sun spots? a butterfly fluttered its wings in Hawaii? a yogurt curse?). I've been told that making yogurt is more an art than a science. I'd let it sit a bit longer next time and see if that helps. I also found that turning the crockpot on low for about 10-20 minutes if it was taking awhile to thicken seemed to help - at least, I think it did; if I hadn't turned it on, it might have thickened up on its own anyway--no way to tell. (If I needed to do this with the jars, I'd put them either in a shallow warm water bath on the counter or set them on a heating pad set on low.)
Another tip from Elise - I poured about a cup of the half-&-half and starter mixture into a small jar and set it on the counter under the towel with the quart jars to thicken up. When the yogurt had thickened, I put the small jar into the freezer. I'll take it out and let it defrost in the fridge overnight and use that as my starter when I make it next. This tip might make the starter last longer. I was using an envelope of cultures every few batches, and using a half to a cup of yogurt itself as a starter in between. Freezing it will help it remain fresh longer and therefore I can get more batches for each envelope of starter, cutting my costs even more.