Tuesday, December 7, 2010
A New Lease on Yogurt
We learned a new technique for making yogurt that promises to be simple and painless. The trick, if you've made yogurt before, is keeping the temperature stable and relatively high, but not too high! This can be an annoying task: testing the low settings on ovens, using coolers with hot water baths and thermometers, building custom thermostats, and many other such nuisances. My mother recently befriended a Pakistani family who lives in her neighborhood and learned this trick from the woman of the house. She takes a thick walled crock and fills it with hot water to heat up the walls. Meanwhile the milk is heated until steaming and too hot to hold your finger in, then cooled to the point where it is warm and you can hold your finger in it ("baby warm"). Next the water is poured out of the crock and a spoon full of last week's yogurt is put in the crock. The warm milk is added a little at a time first, stirring vigorously, then the remaining portion dumped in. Now, the crock is wrapped in a bathroom towel, and placed in an enclosed area, she uses the microwave, we use our canner, and left overnight undisturbed. That's it! Leave it to the people who make yogurt every week to figure out the simplest and lowest tech solutions. It works!
I got my hands on a crock, without spending a fortune, by grabbing an old crockpot at the thrift store and taking the crock out. I spent a whole $6.50 on it. Now we have a crock pot too. I considered trying to hack it with a dimmer or some other circuitry to use as an incubator, but why bother? A little low tech technology is sometimes the best solution.