Ever since I tried my hand at lactofermentation by making some kimchi, I've been wanting to try making yogurt. The yogurt I buy in the store just doesn't taste the same as I remember when I was younger: it has a shallow taste, it's not very creamy, and it seems frothed or whipped or something.
I know other people have made yogurt, but the instructions I've read all make it seem like such an ordeal. I mentioned this to one of my colleages at work, and she said that her mother used to just let the mixture of the milk and starter yogurt sit on the counter overnight - this sounded more like my kind of method!
So, last night I added my little plastic container of plain starter yogurt to about two cups of milk. I put the mixture in my little stainless steel kettle (that I bought for 50 cents at a garage sale!), set it on the counter, and went to bed.
This morning, the mixture was, well...a mixture of milk and yogurt. Time to go to Plan B. First I had to find a Plan B though. Eventually, after doing some internet searching I found what seemed like a relatively easy method. And then I modified it - a little on purpose and a little by accident.
I heated the mixture up on the stove top until it was 43C/109F. Later, I read in the instructions a little further down that it should have been heated to 200F first. But I didn't read that until I had already put the container into the pre-heated oven to let it incubate, as per "Method A" in the instructions. Apparently one is supposed to keep track of the oven temperature and keep it at 100F by turning the oven on and off as necessary. But, when I went looking for my oven thermometre I couldn't find it. So I just turned the oven on and off as I saw fit.
After about an hour of this I wanted to see what was happening. I tried taking the lid off of the container and the glass and metal lid insert promptly came apart and fell into the pre-yogurt! I fished it out of there with a fork, put some tin foil on lid instead, and put the whole thing back in the oven. The mixture was thickening nicely, so dropping the lid parts in there was kind of disappointing.
After another hour, I decided that the yogurt was not likely to be fit for human consumption, and also I wanted to bake some bran muffins, and I needed the oven for that. So in a moment of creativity, or desperation or something I heated up my two wheat-filled heating pads in the microwave and nestled the little kettle full of pre-yogurt in between them, right in the microwave itself. And I let it sit like that for another two hours.
Then the moment arrived: I took the tin foil-covered lid off without further incident, and lo and behold, there was yogurt! There was also some liquid whey or something, but I just poured that off since I wanted thicker yogurt anyway. I tasted the yogurt and it was good! A little tart but not too much. And then I made my favorite thing with the yogurt -- tzatziki! And in a little while, I will enjoy a delicious dinner of tzatsiki and pita bread. Mmm...that all turned out ok.
(And for anyone wondering about the kimchi - after two weeks it smells and tastes quite spicy and pungent, but it is still very, very salty. I'm not quite sure how it is supposed to taste, so for now I'm just leaving it ferment for a while longer....)