Unless the weather was cold 24/7, milk didn’t last very long in it’s raw liquid state.  Some thing about a protein rich environment just waiting to be eaten.  So preservation of a vital source of protein was needed.  Hence the start of preserving milk with bacteria in the form of yoghurt and cheese.

I have been wanting to cover the basics of yoghurt making for awhile and then the opportune moment came in the form of a gallon of whole milk with a small but growing hole in the container as well as live culture yoghurt on hand.  So here we go, today we cover the basic of yoghurt making that includes items on hand and nothing special or gadgety.

I have yet to find a period documented recipe on how yoghurt was made in any of the Middle East cooking texts I have.  I believe this was so well known, much like milking a cow (Cow, bucket and person…all you needed to retrieve the milk, well that and a stool to sit on) that there was and would be no need to ever mention how milk was turned into yoghurt.  Where I did pick up a good very low tech yoghurt recipe was off of a website blog called http://noimpactman.typepad.com/.   There was no relying on thermometers to say when the milk was hot enough or cool enough, nor yoghurt incubators.  A cook had to know when the milk was ready to be taken from the fire and when and how to add yoghurt.

So here is the very basic for making yoghurt with whole milk.

Supplies: Clean all dishes and utensils prior to using.

1 large pot

1 gallon whole milk

1 spactula

2 small bowls

1 table spoon measurer

2-3 Tbs yoghurt

Step 1: Put one gallon of whole milk in a clean pot.  (Any milk will do as long as it is whole milk…you want the fat that whole milk offers for good period yoghurt.)  Stir the milk every few minutes, while bringing the pot up to boil,  so the milk does not scorch on the bottom.   The pot, the spoons, bowls and jars used for this were cleaned prior so that there was not any extra bacterium to contaminate or turn the milk from yoghurt into some thing else calling out for “Mommy!” at the back of the fridge.  The milk should be allowed to boil and foam, but don’t let the milk boil out of the pot.  Then things just get messy!

boiled milk

You can see where the milk boiled up to before I turned off the flame.  I cut it a little close at the boiling/foaming phase, but just a little!

Step 2: Allow the milk to cool till you can hold your pinky finger in the milk for 10 seconds.  This is a crucial step!!  To hot and the added yoghurt bacteria will be killed off.  To cool and extra floating around the house opportunistic bacteria  will start to grow.  This would be a baaaad thing.

Step 3: Once the milk has cooled, take out 2-3 Tbs of yoghurt from a previous batch (or a store bought container with live culture) and place in one of your two clean bowls.  In the 2nd bowl place a cup of the warm milk.  Stir the yoghurt in the bowl till of a smooth and creamy.  I know this sounds silly as yoghurt is already smooth and creamy but you want to warm up and spread out the cold yoghurt in the bowl.  stirred yogurt

Step 4: Slowly poor the milk from the other bowl into the yoghurt stirring the entire time.

yogurt and milk combined

Here the cooked milk is now thicker and cooler with the addition of the yoghurt which in turn is warmed enough to add to the main pot of milk.

Step 5: Add the bowl of yoghurt and milk to the pot of boiled milk, stirring the entire time.  This is more a dribble then a pour.  Dumping the entire contents of the bowl into the pot while quick will result in less the perfect batch.  So dribble and stir until till the bowl’s ingredients have been emptied into the pot.

Step 6: Pour the pot of milk into clean jars.  I luckily had two large glass jars on hand, cleaned prior to using, and closed securely with screw on lids.

jars with milk

Step 7: Place jars in warm area of the house.  Wrap a towel around the jars to retain heat.  Let the jars sit for 12-14 hours then place into the fridge.

You will then have a gallon of yoghurt on hand.  This is a  LOT of yoghurt.  Luckily for us there are a LOT of recipes from which to use this wonderful tasty treat.  Like herbed yoghurt or Persian dried yoghurt.  There are also a variety of cheeses that can be made as well.  But first, take a bowl of your newly made yoghurt, a spoon, then drizzle a bit of honey over the yoghurt.  This is a sweet sublime treat!

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