Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Yogurt Making Improvement #2

Yesterday, I shared about how the EcoTemp Digital Alarm Thermometer greatly improve my yogurt-making experience.  Now I thought I'd tell you about improving the actual yogurt. 

I have come to vastly prefer Greek yogurt to the thinner, 'regular' type, which is one reason I wasn't overly thrilled with the yogurt I'd made in my initial, though successful, attempt.

I knew that this time, I wanted to try to make it into Greek yogurt.  I'd read that the way to accomplish this is draining the yogurt through cheesecloth.  Cheesecloth doesn't seem to be stocked in any of the stores I frequent, so the lack of it delayed my 2nd yogurt attempt for weeks.  I finally decided to start the yogurt, then force myself to go find cheesecloth in order to finish.  But Hubby found a package out amongst his shop's wood finishing supplies, so I was good to go.  (Don't worry, it was new and sealed, so no finish or sawdust, and it listed food straining as one of its uses, so was certainly suitable.)

I would've liked to use a fine mesh strainer, but since I had a gallon of yogurt to strain, I got out my largest colander, also the one with the smallest and most plentiful holes.  I placed the colander in a tall bowl, and positioned an inverted cereal bowl underneath, to keep the strained yogurt from sitting in the drained liquid whey.  

I cut a piece of cheesecloth long enough to go down into the colander and hang over both sides, so it wouldn't slip in... I opened it out to fit, and ended up with 2 layers.  Then I spooned in the yogurt.  I covered it with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge overnight.  (I had to remove a shelf from the fridge, because this contraption ended up to be so tall!)

OK... THEN I started to wonder if I'd done this at all right, and looked for instructions on the internet.  First of all, almost every site said I was supposed to use 'several layers' of cheesecloth.  2 sure doesn't qualify as several, so I figured I'd awaken to a milky drainage, instead of clear, and have to start over.  Most people seemed to recommend tying the cheesecloth over the top of the yogurt, and even hanging it from a cabinet knob to help squeeze out the whey.  But one person suggested doing it the way I had... Just covering it and setting it on a fridge shelf, so I stuck with that and hoped for the best.

I also found that, as I'd wondered, I could've tried other fabric for the straining, like a broadcloth or muslin.  It's just recommended that one avoid colored fabric in case it bleeds into the yogurt, since blue yogurt wouldn't be very appetizing...

The next morning I was delightfully surprised to see that neither the storing and covering methods, or the conservative use of cheesecloth had been at all a problem.  I had about half the amount of yogurt, which according to what I'd read, was the expected.  I also had about 6 cups of liquid whey...clear and yellowish, as it's supposed to be.

The whey is supposed to be wonderful in baking... as a one to one swap with whatever liquid might be in muffins, bread, etc.  I tried it in my bread recipe, but instead of extra pop, as described by other whey-users, my bread didn't rise as much as usual, and got a little overbrown in the time it took to bake to its 200-degree internal temperature.  There are too many factors that influence this to blame the whey, so I'll have to try again another time.  Making at least 2 batches of yogurt a week, which is what it will take to keep our yogurt supply going, will give me plenty of whey to play with.               

Strained longer, I can make "yogurt cheese," which is supposed to be like cream cheese.  I think I may also be able to make Ricotta cheese using some of these same techniques and ingredients, so I hope to try that, too.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...