Thursday, August 20, 2009

Homemade Yogurt...and Yogurt Cheese (Labneh)

How many years can a mother say, "Eat this. I promise you'll like it"? Little man took a picture of me saying it over a tray of broiled sub sandwiches slathered heavily with herbed yogurt cheese. My favorite is still fresh blackberries with Homemade fruit and nut granola and mesquite honey. I've spoiled myself. Ruined forever. I will never look at yogurt the same. After I'm through gasping and dramatically wiping my sophisticated brow we can get on to business.
Okay. I'm ready now.
Yesterday we talked a little about the ever amazing work of Dr David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D. Professor of Biology and Chemistry. His blog has been a great source of information. I dare say, one of the best I've seen as far as easing any concerns anyone may have about the safety and use of yogurt made at home. His Introduction to Yogurt is superb. I highly suggest reading it, as well as his detailed (highly the point of perfection!) directions on how to go through the proper Procedure (Illustrated). I'll talk here briefly on it. I do however make no claim about being an expert on this subject. I've been practicing all his techniques and am now totally bird-dogging. I bow in respect. (I also now do the ceremonial head cock and "thumbs up" gesture with a cheesy Chef Tess grin.) Well done. Anyone else picture Drew Barrymore in "Never Been Kissed" just then? Totally what I look like when I do the thumbs-up. Right before I trip on my shoes and fall to the ground in a pool of cute-ness.
Speaking of pools of cuteness. Let's begin.
1 gallon fresh milk (either store bought, or your own home grown milk)
(whole milk makes richer flavored yogurt, skim milk makes it non-fat)
starter: 1 cup Dannon Plain yogurt, very fresh
The good Dr. prefers Dannon Plain, made purely with milk and culture. (Get the freshest: check the expiration date.)Dannon Plain WORKS for me. See label
Heavy bottomed stainless steal pot that can cook 1+ gallon
four quart jars with lids, sterilized in boiling water
one 8 oz jar with lid, sterilized in boiling water.
candy or meat thermometer, reading range = -10 to 110oC (0 to 225 oF)
2 cup liquid measuring cup
1 medium sized "cooler" (such as a "Playmate" or Styrofoam with close fitting lid) (A gas oven with pilot may work if monitored closely).
Directions according to Dr. David B. Fankhauser. Sanitation is key here folks. Please don't skip any of these details.
1: Sterilize jars and lids which will be used to make the yogurt. Place in a 5 gallon pot with an inch of water in the bottom.
2: Cover and bring to boil. Boil for ten minutes. Turn off heat, do not remove lid.
3: Use a pot with a thick bottom to scald the milk. Note the thick pad on the bottom of this pot. Alternatively, a double boiler may be used. It is not necessary to boil the milk. This gives the milk a "cooked" flavor, and increases the probability that it will burn on the bottom or boil over.
4: Scald until the temperature of the milk is 85-90 C (185-195 F). It is not necessary to boil, and do not let boil over...what a mess! (Many claim success leaving out this step. But... results may work, but intermittently...)
5: Cool milk to 122-130 degrees. Rocket science as it sounds, it's important to watch the temperature so you don't kill the good stuff in the culture that would be bad. It won't make yogurt without that stuff.Place one cup of the scalded and cooled milk in a two cup measure. Add enough fresh, uncontaminated yogurt to bring the level up to two cups. Uncontaminated meaning yogurt from a new clean container that has never been dipped into. (Especially by your kiddos. I know what grows under those fingernails. Bleck!) Stir to blend the yogurt starter into the scalded and cooled milk until homogeneous.INOCULATE: Add the yogurt-milk slurry slowly to the 50 C scalded and cooled milk with stirring. (No hotter--you will kill the bacteria in the starter.) Stir very well to thoroughly distribute the yogurt starter. Once thoroughly mixed, distribute the inoculated milk to the sterilized jars, filling to the neck. Cover immediately with sterile tops. Tighten well.

INCUBATE:Warm a gallon of fresh clean water to 55 C, pour into a clean cooler. Place in a warm location. I use my oven, turned off or in the summer, my Arizona front porch is perfect. Sad isn't it? At any rate, carefully set the jars of inoculated milk in the water so the bottom of the lids are above the water.
let sit undisturbed for three hours. If the starter was active and the temperature correct, the yogurt will have gelled. I let mine sit for about 8 hours and it is perfect. Either for a nice delicate snack or to take at this point and make into yogurt cheese. See: how to make labneh for more detailed instruction.
Place salted yogurt in a sterile colander lined with a sterile handkerchief.

Bunch with a clip or tie.
Suspend over the bowl. It usually takes about 24 hours.

This is what it looks like.

I mix it with herbs and garlic. 1 tsp Italian herbs and 1 tsp fresh pressed garlic to 1 cup of cheese. Look how awesome it is!
Sometimes I fold a little into cooked hot pasta and it makes a quick wonderful dinner. Fat free and so creamy!

By and far, my favorite use for it on Solar oven roasted potatoes with herbs and carrots. Swooning yet?
There you go.


Salvage Chic Lady said...

Stephanie your killin me...I didn't know this stuff even existed!

Chef Tess said...

Yes. I am evil. Kinda cool though huh?

Jorge said...

Wow this must be really really good. are you a pro. chef???

Chef Tess said...

I'm a pro chef, but a real person. I hope you come back often my friend.

J. P. said...

beautiful as always :) mouth is watering at the thought of that tangy yogurt.--Lisa

Chef Tess said...

Completely thought of you when I was piling those blackberries into the bowl...and smiled. Love you girl!

Mom2BJM(Amy) said...

The blackberries/granola/yogurt bowl looks WAY Yummy...

Did Tara, or is that EVIL TARA, talk to you about stealing a sourdough starter for me??? (she said you liked her, and would probably give me one...)

Chef Tess said...

Yes! I've got your back sweetie! I'll hook you up.