115 Degrees Fahrenheit

mango.bliss

Sweet tender mango and warm fresh delicate just set yogurt made at night while the world slept; the combination of a perfect mango’s sweet sensuality and the innocence of milk made more resonant in its newly jellied form.

You wanted to know how to. So here it is. First of all get yourself a food thermometer.  I know many make yogurt without one but that is the secret for success around here.  You will never go wrong. And anyway it is a useful tool to have around the kitchen.  As to the rest here you go.

What you need:

4 Litres Whole Milk (you can use skimmed or in between or add cream for richer yogurt)

4 tablespoons unflavoured yogurt (formula is 1 tablespoon per litre of milk)

Special equipment:

Food thermometer

Wide mouthed glass jars with lids

A balloon whisk

A glass cup measure for filling jars

A cup to rest the thermometer between checks

A heavy bottomed sauce pan

Oven with pilot light

Important Temperatures to keep in mind:

Milk holding temperature – 160F – 180F

Inoculation temperature – 115F

Ambient temperature to rest the yogurt – 110F

Something about ambient temperature.  The ideal temperature for yogurt to set is 110F more or less.  How this works for me is if I leave the light on in my electric oven it hits that temperature.  It should not be too much higher than that.  The yogurt takes between 5 – 6 hours to set.  The longer it sits from the moment it sets the more tart it becomes.  If you don’t like yogurt tart remove the yogurt as soon as it is set.  You will know it is set because when you tilt it the whey will separate from the solids.  For the first time suggest you give it about seven hours and you can experiment with your next batch.  I tend to like it un-tart so I remove it as soon as it is set.  Just set warm yogurt is pure magic.  Especially with ripe mango.  Anyway, back to work.

DSCF0575
First sterilize your jars …

First sterilize your jars, lids, whisk and the cup measure in boiled water for 15 minutes. Then remove with tongs and drain on a tray lined with a clean kitchen towel. If your jars and equipment are not sterilized your yogurt might not set due to bacteria. Don’t skip this part.  Also make sure your working areas are super clean and same with your oven.

Now heat the milk in a heavy bottomed non-reactive pan stirring all the time.  Bring to between 160F – 180F and keep it at that temperature for 20 – 30 minutes.  Make sure to keep stirring and adjust heat to ensure it does not go outside this temperature range.  If you don’t stir a skin will form on top which is not a good idea.

After 20 – 30 minutes place the pan in an ice bath or cold water bath and bring temperature down to 115F.  115F is the magic temperature at which inoculation can occur which will make sure the culture you add to the milk will multiply and magically transform milk to yogurt.

As soon as the milk reaches 115F remove from the cold water/ice bath and add the yogurt and whisk it in.  Promptly transfer the milk to the jars using the measuring cup.  Cover the jars with the lids and place on a large tray in oven which should be at 110F.  Cover the bottles with a kitchen towel.

After 5 – 6 hours your yogurt will be set.  Sometimes it may take a little longer but not a lot. As I said if this is your first time just do it before you sleep and it should be set when you wake up in the morning but it will be a little tart.

I think yogurt is lovely when super fresh and warm.  But in order to store the yogurt place them in a cold water bath till room temperature.  Then refrigerate.  They keep easily in the fridge for a month without any problem provided you don’t open the lids.  Once they are open they are still good for two to three weeks.  Always keep refrigerated.

DSCF2962Until you get the hang of it after making a few batches; it’s best to use large mouthed jars.  These are small jars I make for single servings.  I leave a bunch in the office fridge; end up being my breakfast often.

And the best part.  You get to use the yogurt you made for your next batch as the culture.  Just use one tablespoon for each litre of milk.  Best of luck. This has become a beloved ritual for me.  I no longer buy yogurt.

Tips:  Sometimes I add about a tablespoon of rose water into a jar (1 litre) to give it a rose flavour.  Although I’ve never done so you could also sweeten the yogurt by adding sugar to the milk and other flavourings.  I am happy with plain yogurt and I jazz it up with some fruit preserves or fresh fruit or sometimes just some toasted oats.  Ripe perfect apricots and mangoes, fresh, are divine with just set yogurt before it gets tart. It is paradise.  Sometimes when I need something fancy I just get out the yogurt and have it with a little sugar and plop a few drops of rose water in it.  Needless to mention all the savoury possibilities for salads and things.  Chop up a cucumber and a tomato.  Throw in some yogurt and some chopped mint and/or dill.  There’s a summer salad for you.

Renuka Mendis, in Toronto, August 31, 2015.

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