Usually, yogurt making is fool-proof.
This week I made nine pints of yogurt using my food dehydrator, since the outdoor daytime temperatures aren’t anywhere near 100°, which is necessary for porchgurt.
I have an Excalibur 4 tray dehydrator like the one in the image here. I take out the trays and there’s just enough space to fit nine pint canning jars. Excellent!
As it turned out, I had a gallon of raw milk that I had planned on using to make cheese but as it turned out, I hadn’t gotten my act together to make that happen. So my fall-back plan was to make lovely raw milk yogurt.
What I learned from the experience is that yogurt-making is easy, but it’s not entirely foolproof.
As I usually do, I scalded the milk and then added a spoonful of starter yogurt when the milk was about 100-110°. I stirred and then lightly shook the jars to distribute the culture, and placed them into the dehydrator. What was a bit different was that I had turned the dehydrator on 115° and left it for about 12 hours (overnight). Usually I don’t leave it so long, and I think maybe the heat was higher than the last time (I was trying someone else’s process). Sadly, however, this batch – all nine jars of it – turned out to be a bit grainy, along the lines of the texture of ricotta cheese, rather than smooth and luscious like every previous batch.
From a review of websites I found afterwards, I think the combination of the temperature and length of culturing was the problem – it adversely affected the proteins in the milk. This was also my first attempt at yogurtizing raw milk, so it may have been a bit more tempermental.
At any rate, it’s disappointing, but at least it’s still edible.
I also used this batch to try making greek yogurt. I took a strainer and lined it with some cheesecloth folded over a few times, and dumped one of the pints in. I then placed the strainer over a bowl and stuck it in the fridge. In the morning I had very thick, nearly spreadable, yogurt, and a pool of whey. The whey of course is loaded with nutrients and protein, but I really don’t care for it as is, so some went into the dogbowl (he loved it!) and the rest made its way into my breakfast smoothies.
So it wasn’t the best of all yogurts, but it’s good to mess up from time to time, so you can learn more about the process.