This morning I stood at my stove stirring a pot of warming milk. The smell was comforting; it reminded me of childhood and hot chocolate and butterscotch pudding. The meditative stirring took me back to cold winter mornings when I stirred pots of porridge for my children’s breakfast. The comforting smell of warm milk reminded me of other smells that are pleasing to me like that of a hot iron on hot cotton that I wrote about briefly many years ago here. The very act of being in my kitchen and preparing food to be enjoyed later for some reason reminded me of standing at the sink washing dishes at my aunt’s home on the Saskatchewan prairie looking out over the flat landscape. It’s funny how a few minutes spent in the kitchen can take your mind on a journey to other comforting times and places. We miss out when we’re too busy to take the time to prepare our own food.
I was making yogurt this morning. I dabbled with this while I was still working but I got away from it when the effort it required, which really is minimal, was pushed aside by other seemingly higher priority activities. Now, in retirement, I’m delighted to have the time and desire to resume this activity. It requires a bit of planning. For example I put a batch on late yesterday afternoon that needed to be removed from the incubator to the fridge at 10:30 last night–not a good idea for someone like me who is typically in bed long before then.
Making yogurt is easy: it’s basically just heating milk, cooling milk, stirring in some kind of starter and setting it aside to incubate.
I started with pouring 42 ounces of fresh pasteurized milk from a local dairy into a pot and heating it.
The rough recipe I follow says to heat it to boiling, or about 185F – 195F. I use a thermometer to check the temperature but I expect after I’ve done this a few more times I’ll be able to skip the thermometer.
Once the milk is up to temperature (and you’ve allowed yourself plenty of time for reflection) allow it to cool to lukewarm, or about 95F. I like to put the pot in a bit of cold water in my sink.
Once it’s down to temperature, whisk a bit of the lukewarm milk in with about 6 ounces of plain yogurt. I purchased a container of plain Oikos Greek yogurt to use for this. Going forward I’m going to try using the last jar of my own batch as starter instead.
Then, combine this with the larger pot of milk and stir well. Pour the mixture into glass jars and set in a warm place where the jars will not be disturbed to incubate for 8 or so hours. I use a yogurt maker which is basically just a heater with a cover. I’ve read where other’s have used a cooler filled with warm water, a heating pad, a slow cooker, even an oven on low temperature.
This makes a batch of plain yogurt. You can flavour it when you’re making it with fruit preserves but I prefer the plain.
Easy right? And you know exactly what’s in it. I enjoyed a jar of this homemade yogurt this morning with a bit of granola on top; store-bought granola…making it myself is my next project.