This started out when I read French Women Don’t Get Fat. I was looking for starter French recipes, interested in reading a story at the same time. The book itself was like many self-help books and many recipe books. Threw out a lot of clichés about diet, exercise and attitude and dressed them up in the French language. Made assumptions about level of cooking ability, left out steps and basic ingredients that obviously would have made the food much more delicious (perhaps less French.) But the book certainly contained some gems that made them worth the price of shipping.
The recipe that I use is a direct adaptation of the French Women Don’t Get Fat version. In the book, it is credited to a talkative Greek cabbie.
2L of 3% cow milk (I have tried skim, 1% and 2%. They all work fine if there are fat content concerns)
1 small container of plain yoghurt (I try to reach to the back of the shelf for the freshest one)
1 large stainless steel pot
5 glass jars with airtight lids
Stainless steel ladle
Medium glass bowl
Sterilize everything! I boil everything in the pot twice before I start. It may be overkill, but I like my bacteria tasty, not vomity. I’ve read on a couple of sites that there are places where you can cut corners and they claim that experience will teach you where. I prefer not to find out the hard way.
Scald the milk over medium-low heat. It’ll be doing that for awhile, but keeping it low stops it from burning the milk on the bottom of the pot. Walk away. Play some Diablo. Once the milk just starts to boil (you can tell from little bubbles around the edges), remove the pot from heat. I think it’s okay to let it boil, just messy if it goes over. At least, I let it boil this time, and my yoghurt turned out excellent.
Let the milk stand. I have read on websites that the temperature should reach 50 Celcius before proceeding. The method that I use and that came in the book is to wait until you can dip your finger in the milk and hold it for 20 seconds. It normally takes about 45 min, I think. I’ve gotten distracted and let it go a little longer, and again, turns out fine.
Once the heat has gone down, scoop out about half a cup into the bowl. Mix in the yoghurt starter. To reduce the number of tools I need to sterilize, I smush it all around with the ladle. Pour the mixture into the pot and stir it in really thoroughly.
Separate it into the glass jars. Seal them, put them in the oven and cover them with the towel. If it’s really cold in my apartment, I’ll turn the heat on just the tiniest bit while the milk is boiling to make it warmer in the oven. But I do turn it off while the yoghurt is setting. I figure it’s better to have the temp a little low and let it sit longer than to have it too high and kill the bacteria.
Now watch a movie. Go and build a snow castle. Beat Duriel. Go to bed. Because it’ll take at least 8 hours for the yogurt to set. I normally start everything around 6 or 7pm, then put it in the fridge at 7am.
I’ve read a bunch of different timelines as to how long it will keep in the fridge. I have always eaten it all by the end of the week, so it has yet to matter for me. Top limit I have read is one month, bottom limit 2 weeks.
I generally eat it with wine-poached pears (also from the book) or peaches or nectarines with granola (of course.) I think I’ve made this recipe at least ten times over the winter. And I’ve been thinking: it’s time to make cheese.
To the internets! I’ve found that some of the most informative sites have .edu at the end. The rest seem to be just articles like this one, personal experience rather than SCIENCE! The one I’ve been looking at the most is http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Fankhauser/Cheese/Making_Laban/Labneh.htm because it’s Labneh! I pretty much followed the recipe aside from one minor adjustment (I added the salt directly to the yoghurt jar and mixed it there, rather than sterilizing and messing up another bowl.) I think I also may have added more salt than the recipe calls for, but I’m not convinced this is a bad thing.
Summary for you click-lazy jerks:
Mix a teaspoon of salt into a jar of yoghurt. Strain out the whey through a handkerchief suspended above a bowl. Let strain for about 24 hours.
My bag o’ curds is hanging from my cupboard door and I’m collecting the whey to try making ricotta.
The biggest problem that I have come across so far is that I like cheese. I really like cheese. I just want to bust open my bag of cheese and omnomnomnomnomnomnom. I have been salivating for the past five hours just thinking about it.
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