Sure Shot

Original Material Copyright 2005 
By Lin Stone

Design and Layout Copyright 2005 
by Browzer Books

Successful yogurt production is easier than you might think. 
Once you have perfected the process there are endless possible uses for it. 

Here are just a few suggestions for yogurt:

    * Mix with fruit and sweeten to taste
    * Freeze fruity yogurt in molds for yogurt pops
    * Add fresh fruit and freeze in an ice cream freezer.
    * Use in baking to replace some or all of the fat in your recipes.
    * Use as is as a substitute for sour cream, like on baked potatoes.
    * Use it in dishes like stroganoff.
    * Use in baking, as in yogurt-carrot cake
    * Make milkshakes, as in banana-yogurt, or cherry, etc.
    * Mix with garlic for a tempting dip
    * Make a carob-yogurt frosty
    * It makes a delicious dressing for coleslaw too.

If you have one of those FREEZEE mixers that were created to make ice cubes and fruit taste like a healthy slush, pour in your yogurt and add any frozen fruit of your choice.

Add sweetener, add ANYTHING that makes it taste good to you and this is the very best breakfast drink you'll ever find.  On top of all that variety, the beneficial bacteria in yogurt (Lactobacillus acidophilus, etc.) is good for you.

Eating yogurt helps your digestion, plus it is an economical, delicious, and a nutritious snack.

How to get Started

 There are several elements involved in the yogurt making process. 
Varying any one of these can change the creaminess, thickness, and 
tartness of the finished product. If your first batch falls a little flat to 
your taste, don't be afraid to experiment. Besides, even those batches 
which turn out too runny, or too tart, they can always be used for pops, 
or mixed with frozen fruit to produce frozen yogurt.  

    There are two steps 
to making yogurt.

    First, you need some yogurt with "LIVE CULTURES" to get started. Dannon is the most well-known brand that still contains live cultures, although any plain yogurt that claims to have live cultures will do.  Although the culture needs to be less than 5 days old for the microorganisms to be strong enough to be effective.

HOWEVER, if you live near a health food store, Natural Grocers for example, go in and ask for YOGOURMET freeze dried yogurt starter mix.  It is easier to get started with this.  And, if you buy the YOGOURMET machine you become a professional.

Note, if the culture is live it doesn't HAVE to be plain yogurt... but if you do use flavored yogurt to start off a batch then some of that flavor will be passed on in the results.

Once you have begun to make your own yogurt on a regular basis, you can "chain yogurt" by using starter you saved from a previous batch. Usually, you can chain your yogurt up to 4 times. However, the easiest and most economical option is freezing commercial yogurt in ice cube trays. Store these in a bag, and thaw them out for use, one at a time. One ice cube equals about 2 tablespoons, which is the recommended amount of starter for each 1 quart batch of yogurt. Your freshly made yogurt can also be frozen so that you will always have "fresh" starter on hand.    

The second thing you need is THE MILK. Any kind of milk can be used, but I have found that milk with a higher concentration of milk solids will yield a thicker yogurt, which more closely resembles the store-bought variety you are probably used to. To make your milk thicker, just add 1/2 cup of powered milk to a quart of liquid milk.

    Now you are ready to Begin the most critical part of the process.

    Heat the milk, by itself, to 180 degrees, or to just under the boiling point. A candy thermometer will provide enough accuracy to get the temperature right. A stainless steel or enamel pan is recommended. This pre-heating kills off any microorganisms in the milk which might compete with the yogurt culture.

 Let the milk cool to about 115 degrees. In a separate container, whisk about 1/2 cup of this now warm milk with the yogurt starter of your choice. Just as soon as you have mixed it up thoroughly, add this mix to the remaining milk, and whisk it briskly until you have mixed it up thoroughly. 

Now, let me be plain on this... You let the very hot milk cool to 115 degrees and you do not stop the process there. 

You do not put the mixture into the refrigerator and start it up the next day. 

You must use it immediately. 

After you have added the starter, you immediately begin to incubate your mixture.  Got it?

You can use any container, such as a pan, or a bowl.  A quart-sized canning jar makes a great container, for example.  

Make sure you have mixed it well, as any under-mixing may result in a failed batch.

Two, four, six, eight, 
How do we incubate? 

This mixture should be incubated (UNDISTURBED) for a period of at least four hours, and up to 12 hours at a steady temperature of about 115 degrees. 

That undisturbed part needs stressing repeatedly.  That part means to LEAVE IT ALONE.  It's kind of like back in the old days when mothers warned against clomping feet that would make the cake fall.  Leave your yogurt alone.  Don't go stirring it up to see if it is working.

    There are two basic methods of incubation
    (a) insulation, or
    (b) by providing an outside heat source.

    Your Insulation methods options might include
    (1) putting your mixture into a thermos which has been soaking in hot water
    (2) Wrapping warm jars in a warm towel and placing in a small cooler
    (3) Wrapping your jars in a heavy quilt.

    The thing to remember in using the insulation-only method is that maintaining a constant temperature of somewhere between 101 and 115 degrees is crucial. Any cooler and it won't work.  Any warmer and it might curl up and die on you.  Consequently the insulation methods are not my first recommendation.

    For an outside heat source, consider putting the yogurt container over the pilot light in your gas oven. A counter top warmed by baking will probably be just right. Another handy spot is a sunny window sill on a warm day.  

WARNING:  The LOW setting on your electric stove oven is too hot.  

What I've found to be just right for our altitude and humidity zone is the back right burner of my electric range when I have the oven set on LOW or WARM.  And like I said, I make a gallon at a time.


What about using the food dehydrator?  
It says on the box that you can make yogurt there.

Yeah, in little dinky cups, but yogurt lovers like me want to make a gallon at a time, enough to last a day or two, you know?  What I do there is put a stew pot (with no handles on it) that is less than half as wide as the trays and set it on the bottom tray. 

Then I take a sheet of aluminum foil and make it fit just inside the tray all the way around and make a tent of it with the top fitting just beneath the bottom of the dehydrator's top, lapping it over the top of the pot to hold it up.  This keeps the warm air circulating instead of evaporating.

The longer you incubate it, 
the tarter the yogurt will be.

Once it has set to the degree of tartness you prefer, your yogurt can be stored in the refrigerator. Any small containers with lids will do.

If you are making gallons at a time you can use these containers to store your produce in the freezer.  Note that I mark the container so that I know what is inside.  If you have ever starved to death because all you found in the fridge was a dozen  margarine containers, you know what I mean.

 And, now that your yogurt is done, here is
    My Favorite Yogurt Recipe

Yogurt Biscuits

This could be started in a bread maker but I prefer a large bowl because I want
my dough EXTRA THICK and heavy before I turn it out.  

2.5 cups of self-rising flour  1 cup of yogurt.  1/3 cup of milk.  2 shakes of salt.

Put the yogurt, milk and salt into a large bowl.  Add the flour and cut it together
with a fork.  When the mix gets thick enough that the fork comes out almost clean 
it is ready to turn out on a flat surface for rolling.  

Spread flour thinly on a flat surface and turn the mix out onto it.  Push the flour down
from the top until it begins trying to stick to your fingers.  At this point flip the dough
over and do the same thing again.  Continue this process until your dough is flat at
the height you want it.

How high do you want your dough?  THICK biscuits should be right at 1/2" high.
I like mine thin so I roll my dough out to only 1/4" high.  More biscuits, more fun,
that's my theory.  One thing's for sure, you get more crust with thinner biscuits.

After my dough is the proper height, and flat, I use a glass to cut out the biscuits,
flouring the glass so it won't stick to the dough.

Bring out your bread pan.  Spray the bottom and sides with non-stick spray.
THEN add another four tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.  Now prop the pan 
up on one corner so that all the olive oil pools to the lower end.

Heat oven to 425, in most regions.

When these biscuits are cut they have a smooth side on top and a not so smooth
side on the bottom.  Pick your biscuit up and dust the loose flour off it.  Then, push 
the SMOOTH side down into the pool of olive oil for one second.  Then flip it over
so the almost smooth side is down in the pool of olive oil.  At this point, move the 
biscuit up to the highest point in the bread pan.  Continue doing this until you have 
filled up the bread pan. 

Bake until golden brown.  Then serve. 

There are many variations of course.  

#1, you can make the dough extra thin and cover the whole bread pan
with it, pushing it out to fit the sides.  Then put beef stew (or chocolate
pudding, for example) inside the dough with thin biscuits on top, and 
bake until the biscuits are a rich brown texture.

#2, Make your dough a circle.  Spread fruit, jam, jelly, or sweetened
cocoa on one half.  Fold the other half over the spread and mash down
the edges with a fork.  Then bake, or fry.  

#3, use strawberry, blueberry, vanilla or whatever flavor yogurt instead
of plain old plain yogurt.

#4.  Using a syringe you can fill the biscuits with your favorite filling.

Here's one more recipe.


3/4 cup of sugar
1.5 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1.25 cup plain non fat yogurt
Dash of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

    In a 12-cup (3 quart) microwave-safe bowl, stir sugars, cocoa, yogurt, and salt together until thoroughly moistened.
    Microwave uncovered, on high, for 10 to 14 minutes. Do not stir. Mixture becomes bubbly, thick and syrupy. Your sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
    Remove from microwave and stir in the vanilla.
    Your sauce may be refrigerated in a wide-mouth container up to one month. Reheat on top of stove, or in the microwave, before serving.
    Yields 2 cups of sauce.

the end


Lin Stone is an author, writer and photographer living in Lexington Oklahoma, thoroughbred country.  He writes about adventures and he writes about the peaceable things of this world.  You can have immediate, and free, reading of many more pieces when you send your little surfer scooting to Lin's home page at where he keeps stirring up more good things for the soul.

To buy an electric yogurt maker, and to find freeze-dried yogurt starter, Click HERE.


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